Jail Solidarity, Part Three

ryan griffis (CC)

“As his face faded from the television screen, the light in my eyes dimmed.”

Natalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media:

My gentle friend was returned to state custody even as I willed otherwise. Three days later, my Occupy Chicago brothers and I sat on cold stone benches, watching families visit their fathers for the hallmark holiday. We drove together to visit our comrade together because that’s what families do. It was a hot Sunday, and I had finally entered the waiting area after being reminded my tank top was not welcome and I had to cover my body in a tee-shirt. At our comrade’s cellblock division, the guards did not perform the vigorous pat-down we found in other sections, even though they’re all part of the same Cook County system. In this division, number 6, my brothers and I simply dumped our nearly-empty pockets into bins and walked through metal detectors. At this entry point, the guards didn’t slap my breasts around, for which I was grateful. The last time I tried to visit my comrades and forced to consent to the state touching my body, my tits ached for days. Even though female guards were the ones searching my delicate skin for weapons, drugs, or maybe cigarettes, they still used the backs of their hands while I stood stock-still, rooted to the ground, choking on rage.After turning in our identification and while waiting for our background checks to clear, we sat on chilly marble benches, no phones or cigarettes to pass the endless time. We had hoped to also visit one of the NATO5 political prisoners that day, but it was looking unlikely we’d even see our solidarité comrade.

One side of the cavernous waiting room boasted lockers, above which a sign reading “Visitor Lockers” was posted. Across the room, another sign read “Gun Lockers”. One of my brothers remarked it was like a high school football scoreboard: home versus visitors. He was right. They have guns. We have car keys and chapstick, our cellphones locked in my car. It’s truly an unfair fight and we are on their turf. Occupy Chicago’s lawyer told us recently that we were fighting an information insurrection. At that moment, we were defenseless. We could only compile mental notes.

Theoretically for aesthetics, tiny windows were cut in to the towering, multistory beige walls, making the square panels into block-shaped cartoon faces, with thin straight lines for mouths. I imagined them whispering to each other, reporting the sadness they had collected from the day after visiting hours were over. The energy was oppressive, depressive. At times, I could barely breathe with the weight of it all. I was waiting on the state, watching the minutes tick down as I gave them my coerced consent to check my background for warrants, forced permission for them to learn my name and address so I could offer some comfort to a fellow activist who had committed no crime. I would lean my head on my nearest brother’s shoulder, seeking reassurance that being locked in this bastard cop nest was the right direct action to take. Realizing the entire situation’s gravity, my brothers and I reached consensus that we would appear as boisterous and happy as humanly possible when we speaking with our comrade. We were all uncomfortable with Cook County’s chill, the process, and the environment and we’d only been there a few hours. Unlike our comrade, we could leave. His cold concrete cell was not our home. We were just the visiting team.

The guards would bark at the guests, uncaring they were addressing humans, with earnest need to see their dearests. Looking around, the floor in the waiting area was covered in food scraps and garbage. The restrooms had no toilet paper. Not only were the prisoners treated as subhuman, undeserving of quality and care, we, their visitors were as well.

Groups of visitors, mostly children, mothers, and daughters came and went in 25 minute intervals. After each, I chirped to my family, “we’re up next!” Until the room cleared out and finally the three of us, a couple and a man in wheelchair were directed into Visitation Room One. The visitation room was an ugly smoker’s yellow, the walls used to be white but had been exposed to so much exhaled nicotine, they begin to turn a sickly morning-piss color. I longed for the open sky. Possibly as a cruel joke, we sat in plastic outdoor chairs. They were rickety and dirty. Our eyes were drawn to an unwieldy contraption before us and as one, we grimaced. A communication unit divided us from our fellow visitors and their time with loved ones, but that didn’t offer much space or privacy for conversation. In front of us all, a large black metal box with a centered video screen, an ATM-camera, and a payphone handset was the only connection to our comrade. There were no windows, just walls and a protruding box. We picked up the phone preemptively and the guard yelled at us, making everyone jump. Apparently, one mishandling of the 1990s-model telephone and the entire prison-industrial complex collapses.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media.

21 Comments on "Jail Solidarity, Part Three"

  1. Yo Occupy Chicago? Are you still shitting on Police cars and raping people? Solidarity, dude!

    • How many people have they raped?

      • Depends on how you google it. I suggest “rape’ OWS’.
        Or for fun write in ‘feces OWS’- just to see how many metric tons of human feces each OWS movement has left behind itself. They have so much to be proud of.

        • Jin The Ninja | Jul 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm |

          unlike the bankers right? how many wars have they profited from? how many third world countries have they devasted through resource extraction? how many labourers do they exploit? how many dictators have they installed/supported?  we’re talking about GROSS inequalities in both substance and character.

          • Sure let’s pick on the Bankers. I’m sure they are trembling in their boots.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jul 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

            of course! you’re a rethuglican, so you always victimise the easiest, most accessible, most vunerable targets. my bad. anything that requires actual thought, compassion, human experience does not qualify.

          • Sure. Stereotype me. Makes you feel like a real man doesn’t it?

            You know nothing about me. You are so sad.

          • MoralDrift | Jul 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

            thank god you finally came to your senses! Coke is far superior to Pepsi!

          • Actually Dr. Pepper is my favorite.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jul 15, 2012 at 3:24 am |

            a republican is not a disenfranchised minority seeking justice for historical and systemic injustices. you are not exempt from refute nor rebuttal. when you attempt to portray yourself as under the attack of state, capital, or society, your are further marginalising the marginalised. you may not know this, but that actions further disenfranchises rightful minority and subcultures that deserve redress. repubs are the mewling unread masses, yearning for the days of acceptable wasp privilege. and neither are you my senior, i do not respect you, you are simply trying to dominate me, using a meaningless and (ironically (get it?) juvenile conceit- age to attempt to divert the substance of our exchange. however, seniority is only viable if it is accompanied by wisdom, not blind obedience. good day to you sir.

          • And GOOD day to YOU!

          • Jin The Ninja | Jul 16, 2012 at 12:42 am |

            appreciate it.

          • “i only became Republican a year ago”
            Why does born again christian come to mind?

        • I found more articles about military rapes than I did OWS rapes.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jul 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm |

            of course, imperialism just wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t subjugate the ethnic population using sexual violence.

          • They weren’t even about ethnic populations.  They were about soldiers raping other soldiers.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jul 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

            i had assumed that, but i felt compelled to make the adjacent conclusion. there is nothing like subjugating your OWN population through sexual violence.

          • Well there is that too…

  2. Score one for the Bankers.

  3. If this was happening in China
    Hillery would be all over this like a fly on commies.

    If this was happening in Syria
    the US puppets would be calling for regime change.

    But since it’s happening in the Land of the Free
    we all get to see what Freedom really looks like
    in The Land of the Free.

  4. Silent.

    The Red Star will rise again.

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