portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article portland metro

actions & protests | bikes/transportation | imperialism & war | labor

Initiation into Ritual Cruelty\ Critical Mass Arrest

Critical Mass Arrest I -405
A20
I should be sleeping but need to still my anger by telling my story. When the freeways were shut down in Portland a key turned and into the center of the city a door opened that represented the possibility of individual freedom and self government. The highways are apparently our national treasure. These seem to be the areas where we as humans unencased in preposterous shells, automobiles are most restricted. But we did it. We took our bicycles and our vulnerability onto the highway, and are still living. When we arrived at the bottom of the onramp it seemed we would not be able to stop the impervious cars, but someone suggested turning our bike lights toward traffic. Within minutes both lanes were stopped and we were bicycling on 405! A speed skater who had seen us from his apartment window came gliding along'; weaving about the bicycles. The fumes from the cars were choking us and I thought how minor this was compared to what the people of Baghdad must have stuck in their lungs. Since the war started I have been forcing myself to make parallels between their lives and my own. It pushes me forward to action. The first day I kept my stomach empty, hungry to remind myself where I was and what was going on.
We rode along in a surreal landscape in a hole that is not recognized as such when you're in a car. Some extended cab, super long trucks in metallic colors barreled through our lines. No one was injured but earlier we had left several bicycles twisted on Grand and then on Broadway when "getting somewhere" became more important to motorists than human life. We were riding for around 30 minutes when I looked up to an overpass and realized that cops were swarming. The feeling of safety down in that pit was a lie. We were trapped and discussing a way to get out. I saw the skater go speeding off into the distance. My inclination was to follow him, but my fellow cyclists were standing still. Then people began to carry their bikes up an ivy covered hill. The evil invasive ivy would trap and release me as I ran up the embankment alternately pushing and carrying my bicycle. Upon reaching the top I noticed that I was out of breath. There was a chain length fence encircling the entirety of this "911 Memorial Park" where we had landed. How could this be a park? It was nothing more than a swatch of grass between highways. We waited in line to lift the bicycles over the 6 ft. tall fence. Some were getting away, but most of us were standing between a fence and a 60 ft. drop off into incoming traffic, and the police were arriving. Some went downhill, and others were still running up to escape the pepper spray at the bottom.
We were told to put our hands over our heads and step away from our bikes. I asked an officer if I could get my bag off my bicycle and before I knew it I was staring straight into a set of swollen orbs with no glimmer of light, that must of been eyes. For those seconds I searched for humanity and found none. I was shoved to the ground face first with my arms twisted behind me and locked by a stinging plastic strip. Someone much bigger than myself was sitting on my head. When it happened I screeched at the top of my lungs. Maybe a little dramatic, but I had never had big bulbous hands and an enormous fat body squeezed into weird fabric, forcibly and angrily shoving me to the ground and sitting on my head. I could see his shoe which was close my face and kept inching closer. I said, "you're hurting my head!"
When he got off me he said to stay put and there I lay a few feet from the dramatic drop off. I looked down and saw the white impersonal lights of the freeway traffic. That was what this was all about. A friendly girl scooted toward me and told me to put my head on her leg. I was not alone. We were then moved to another area where we began the waiting game. I wish I could remember the name of the guy with the mustache who entertained us for the next few hours. He was on probation and had a pregnant fiancÚ at home. There was no phone there and he wanted one of us to let her know what happened.
The worst part about waiting is that you genuinely believe them the first fifteen times when you are told that it's almost over. This is part of the intentional psychological attack to confuse and punish you for wasting their time; which they could be spending pulling apart bugs or spitting. Many of the arrested seemed to be looking for humanity within the officers, or maybe trying to show their own. At this point I was in shock. I could barely see through the haze of anger and indignation. The women and younger officers who were taking our information were chatting affably. It felt more like the arrestees were trying to tame the all powerful armored armed abusers into not hurting them too much. I couldn't say anything because I was not going to speak to an officer that refused to have the courage to stand up against others who were definitely cruel.
Lt. Rowley, known for May Day 2001, was my arresting officer so after an hour or so of waiting I met the one I had come to think of as "the abuser" face to face. He was smoking a big fat cigar. He cut my bag off my shoulders and dumped all the contents onto the ground. Advice: You should definitely clean out your bag before you get arrested. I had so much shit in there and it was so painful to see him rooting through the scraps of my life. There were things in there I had not seen in a long time: Almonds, peanuts, pennies. peanuts, lipstick, cards, papers, found bits of plastic, tins of mints, crushed and scribbled on scraps of paper. Why had I been carrying all of that around?
A guy in the back of the paddy wagon had somehow twisted his cuffs under his feet and was sharing a cigarette. I was dizzy already. T., the girl who lent me her leg, was lively and kept us and the cops in conversation. After waiting for another hour, we went to a processing site under the Marquam Bridge. If you really want to know what time is about, go to jail. There we were mostly sitting in the van, but pulled out once for a search and to take our jewelry. I felt sorry for the girls with earrings that had balls on both sides. They just pulled them right out. My hand was swollen from the tension of the cuffs and they couldn't get my ring off of me. They found chapstick in my bag and smeared it on my finger. It wouldn't come off as hard as much as they pulled and wrenched. Water and bathrooms were becoming an issue. It was around 2 a.m.. and we had been arrested at 7:55 p.m.
Then we were separated by gender and taken to a southeast precinct near Mall 205 were we were left for hours in the van before being moved to a bus. We began to meet arrestees from other highways. One guy put toothpaste onto the door handle of the bus and a hefty cop's uniform was soiled. They didn't want us carrying on too loud after that. The guy with the mustache( and pregnant fiancee) was allegedly taken to the psych ward. He wasn't crazy, just obviously alive. After a while they put us in a cell with a communal toilet. When we got back in the van one guy smelled of urine so I guess he didn't make it in time.
Finally we ended up at 4:00 a.m. back at the Central Precinct and were taken through more high tech and invasive versions of the searches and finger prints we had already endured. All of the contours of our faces and palms ecoded into the computerized screens. The most torturous part of the morning was having to watch Fox News and see the pictures of the same deserts we saw in the Gulf War, with the same tanks. Little boxes with men speaking as if they were in a Hollywood war movie. We were hushed when we tried to break the monotony by singing songs from Annie, the musical (more Hollywood).
When we came out Channel 8 was there to interview us. Ofcourse we would be out again; even more so now that we realize the completeness of the corruption of this government. As we told our stories I noticed that the people that were treated violently by the cops were women. It is frightening to the power structure when the oppressed start to act on their ideas. It was so great to have jail support waiting outside with coffee and cigarettes.
found 22.Mar.2003 15:26

this little snippet

organizer Mario Santos of International ANSWER: "There's no point to civil disobedience. It's Saturday. Everything's closed."

Ritual Cruelty 22.Mar.2003 16:23

Mark IV

Jeez... Wotta drama queen... You're lucky the cops were there to prevent some pissed off motorist from running your ass down and leaving.

Maybe if you put a little thought into your "protest" people would pay more attention to your cause. Cranking off citizens is the fastest way I can think of to turn them against you, and without a majority of citizens behind you, you're just a bunch of whining cry babies throwing a somewhat larger than normal tantrum.

Ritual Cruelty 22.Mar.2003 16:23

Mark IV

Jeez... Wotta drama queen... You're lucky the cops were there to prevent some pissed off motorist from running your ass down and leaving.

Maybe if you put a little thought into your "protest" people would pay more attention to your cause. Cranking off citizens is the fastest way I can think of to turn them against you, and without a majority of citizens behind you, you're just a bunch of whining cry babies throwing a somewhat larger than normal tantrum.

Is it just me... 22.Mar.2003 16:48

Pepe

...or are the Chomskybrats of Portland way more pussy than anywhere else? Civil disobedience carries an implied risk of arrest. Suck it up and I could at least respect you.

--Robert

Off the Mark (IV) 22.Mar.2003 17:11

Peter Tosh

Next time consider posting your comments about 4 minutes earlier in order to mitigate your loss of reasoning skills.
Off the Mark (IV)
Off the Mark (IV)

To a masser 22.Mar.2003 17:48

an observer

Thank you for sharing your story. It's going to take a lot more truth telling before those fucking pigs finally pay for what they do.

I saw the police "arresting" people the other night, the night you were taken in. I was a police officer once. I am thoroughly disgusted by these portland pukes. I joined the force because I thought I would be helping people. It seemed somehow heroic. I know a lot of people do it for the same reason...at least at first.

But there is a mindset that takes over. It's a game, a competition. It's you against them. You figure out how to win, and it doesn't matter if they're right or not. You have all the power. You have the uniform, the badge, the gun. You have the legal right to use deadly force if you want to. Aren't you grand.

I'm sure a lot of those fucking pigs went home and became sick to their stomachs after that was over. After they realized they had spent the night torturing and beating helpless, unarmed people who live in the same city they do. The people who usually look to them for help. They were absolutely disgusting. They laughed, they taunted. I saw it all. I was so ashamed of them.

These chicken shits all wore heavier armor than I have ever seen used in a "livable" urban environment. They were completely protected, and heavily armed, and they attacked peaceful, unarmed, unprotected people.

Today I saw on the news that most people think the police were justified in what they did. If that's true, and I have my doubts, perhaps those people would have felt differently if they had seen it for themselves, as I did, and not mitigated through the lens of a hostile tv reporter.

If not, then perhaps they will feel differently when the jack boots are at their own doors, which they surely will be if we allow this to go on unchecked.

We are living in Nazi Germany, right before the rest of the world learned what evil lurked in Hitler. Those pigs are the gestapo. We are living in Iraq, before Rumsfeld and Cheney stopped publicly shaking hands with Hussein, and those pigs are the Republican guard. We are living in fascist Amerika, and those pigs are the violent automatons there to protect the system from the people.

To the person arrested 22.Mar.2003 18:04

Lasso

Courage. This is only the beginning. But we are stronger than they are, and we are right.

WTF? 22.Mar.2003 19:37

This and that

To a masser:

I was a little taken back by your angry comments. It would seem as a "Former Police Officer," you hold a lot of animosity for your former brothers in blue. May I kindly remind everyone involved in this cause, that it is the police and military who protect your right to voice your opinions?

I can not recall anyone getting arrested just for stating their opinions in a civil and orderly way that does not intruded on others rights to move about freely unmolested. While you may have bitterness about how you performed your duties as a police officer... no one ever said you had to be a cop. Matter of fact it is probably better off you are not.

Despite how you see police officers and how they perform their duty it is vital for a democracy. I would not be so judgmental in your assessment of all police officers. George Orwell said it well and I will paraphrase
"People can sleep at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

You may not agree with this, but show me a civilization that does not need police because everyone gets along peacefully. Who do you think you would call if a group with a different view attacked your peace rally? Or if your house was being broken into?

You may not agree with how police do their business, but the state of affairs as they are now require police to be proactive and aggressive catching criminals. I think we would be in a far worse situation if the police were of the opposite mind frame. This could lead to anarchy and vigilantism. The fact is we have the best system of justice in the world, and it is not always perfect but it is the best we have... so ask your self are you part of the problem or part of the soloution.

Respectfully

Defending freedom 22.Mar.2003 22:06

Sick of that

Listen. Over the past few days, I can't even begin to tell you how many people have approached me to say, holler, or scream that I only have the right to free speech because people are walking around with loaded guns and big testicles. Bullshit. When was the last time a soldier ever fought for my right to free speech. Never. NEVER. They have fought for US and corporate interests. Nothing more. Before anyone blows a gasket, this is not meant to disparage "the troops." On the contrary, I support them because I want them to live. They're just doing their job. But their job has nothing to do with my freedom. If it did, they would have a completely different target.

But this is the first time I have heard anyone talking about the POLICE being there to protect my right to free speech. Wow. If you haven't seen the police beating or arresting people who weren't being disorderly and/or violent, then you haven't been around the streets of Portland much lately. Holy shit.

Distinctions 22.Mar.2003 23:25

ApHugh

A person doing non-violent civil disobedience (e.g. blocking a bridge in Selma, blocking a freeway in Portland...) should expect to be be arrested. However, the counter expectation is that the police will perform those arrests non-violently (e.g. no dogs, no beatings, no sitting on people's heads, no mace, no ripping holes in ears...). Unfortunately, many police officers, departments, and political powers-that-be, including notably our own Mark and Vera, have no interest in distinguishing between the (very rare) actual rioter and the civilly disobedient, or even sometimes the person just standing around with a candle. I think this gratuitous and undifferentiated cruelty (bravely carried out by "rough men" against people who aren't fighting back and in many cases actually tied down) is what A. Masser is objecting to, not the fact of the arrest itself.

One of the masses 09.Nov.2004 04:03

One of the citizens

I have called on the police for assistance in an unrelated problem, on several occasions, and the "law" for the law enforcement is very strict! Their hands were tied just as securely as the protester in this article. I am shocked that there was brutality! It can happen. Someone who takes many lives in there own hands and try's to make a statement. "Please" I would never ride the wrong way on a one way street, much less a highway! Have you no sense! The media is just as much a problem as the people who protect them. Since the police came to "try" to help me the law prevented them from doing so in the way their personalities would have dictated. "WE" passed those laws. Their hands were tied more securly than most straight jackets on a mental patient. One got in trouble for simply warning a violent person from harrassing a citizen! I believe in our right to state an opinion, to march, and the many other "freedoms" we have, but if you really want change, do your part! Support the "freedoms" that were earned only by the blood, sweat and tears of those who up hold the laws, "WE" passed by majority. You don't like how it is? Change it legally! That is the foundation of our who country! I have done so my little self. You think they were wrong? Be "smart"! Documentation, camera's, witnesses, votes, change the laws! The technology available to the public cheap and is endless. Simpathy is O.K. Truth is, reality is! Next time don't endanger innocent people in your protests, change the laws that you feel infringed on your rights! In our society numbers count. Organize! Costs nothing but time, and a reasonable point! The eyes you "saw" thought about the woman with her unborn child in one of thoses cars you stopped. Or the men with families at home to take care of, they were angery. I don't blame them. I don't blame you, I think your actions weren't thought through, you were impulsive and impatient for change. the The library is free, and there is plenty of information on how to do, legally, what you want done. The internet has all the infomation, take the time look, connect with people, make a difference that won't kill you or anyone else! "We the people of Oregon" must have thought that bikes riding the wrong way down the highway was dangerous or there wouldn't be a law prohibiting it.