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.