So this year for May Day I went out and got myself shot with rubber bullets
and arrested to commemorate the Haymarket Riots.
This is what happened:
I went to a demonstration down in Long Beach, not knowing that the Long Beach
Police Department is second only to the Massad in anti-terrorist tactics. I hadn't heard a
lot about the event other than that last year's had involved a lot of street
theater. When I got there, just about everyone was in
black bloc, and as I had a camera, was dressed for the job interview I'd
just come from, and had never seen cops go out of control on a large scale, I
decided to stay and observe, but not to march.
The black bloc started marching in the street, with a lot of folks not up for
illegal actions on the sidewalks along with observers and people filming or
taking photos. I was on the sidewalk, with the other journalists. The cops lined up opposite the banner,
and started attacking it with batons. The black bloc turned around and started
marching the other way. Variations on the same theme repeated a few times until
the demonstration, including the black bloc, people on the sidewalk, observers
and journalists were surrounded by the police. Anyone trying to get past the
line of cops was attacked. Then something went wrong and the black bloc
panicked, taking everyone else with it. The cops fired rubber bullets and
beanbags into the crowd, then charged. I ended up running so as not to get
trampled by the police, and as I turned to run, I caught a burst of rubber bullets
full on. I was hit from my lower back to a little above my knees. All the
demonstrators hit the ground so as not to be fired upon anymore, and the
police arrested everyone en masse. The charges were failure to disperse,
although I never heard an order given to disperse, and conspiracy to commit
something, some kind of crime I can't remember what. The former is a
misdemeanor, the latter a felony. My bail was set at $500.
A cop searched my bag while another cop twice my
size threatened me with a baton. They put riot cuffs on me and took me over
to a van, the second of many, where another cop took down my name and birthdate.
When I asked for my bag back, I was told to get in the van and that it would come
At the station, we were taken out of the van and shackled together, separated by gender. Our
booking papers were put on us, to ease the process for the police. I started
asking for medical attention. After a while, I was unchained from my fellow
prisoners and taken in to start the booking process. They told me that the
nurse was on her way but stuck in traffic. They decided not to take me to the hospital. I was taken into a room with
about 20 demonstrators and a lot of cops. A cop took down more of my information (address, phone,
emergency contacts, employer), made me an ID bracelet with a bar code on it,
and put my personal belongings into a bag, which was then heat-sealed.
Next I was taken up to the women's jail, got fingerprinted, mugshots taken,
and they photographed my injuries. They attached my ID bracelet to my arm. I
was issued a blanket, paper cup, tiny toothbrush and sample size toothpaste and
sent onto the cell block. All the other women on my block were demonstrators,
which was a bonus.
I was calling to get bail set up and a ride home when the nurse showed up. I
was allowed off the cell block and stripped out of my clothes under the
supervision of a female officer while the nurse cleaned my wounds with hydrogen
peroxide and put big band aids on them. My tights were full of holes and
pressing on the wounds, so I threw them out.
After a while, the women on my cell block started getting called off one at a
time. When it was my turn, an officer read me the Miranda warning, asked me
if I knew why I was there, and asked me if I'd be willing to answer questions.
I was lightheaded and starting to be disoriented from stress and dehydration.
I declined to answer questions, and told her that I was still bleeding.
I was put in a cell with low benches around three sides of it with the other
women from my cell block. I had blood trickling down my legs, and this was
probably four hours after I'd been shot. I bled on the bench. I was called out
of the room and taken to the emergency room, where I found out that I had the
worst injuries after the folks with broken bones. I got to see my wounds
for the first time in the hospital bathroom, while a female officer watched me
piss. I have, at best count, 12 distinct wounds from the beanbags or rubber
bullets or whatever they shot at me. I lay on a hospital bed for two hours
before a doctor looked at my wounds, and another hour or so before they were
After I was taped up, the cops cuffed me again and took me back to jail. When I
asked about my bag again, I was told that there was no way to find out at this
time of night, and that I'd have to ask in the morning. They issued me another
set of stuff and put me in a cell. I curled up and slept, uneasy in the warm
recycled air. I do not remember dreaming.
Around 4 am I awoke to the sound of the cell block doors opening and the door to
my cell sliding back. An officer came in and told me that my bail had been
posted. She took me out to the front area, fingerprinted me again, first on
someone else's sheet, then on mine, and sent me down to reclaim my property.
I asked about my bag again and was told to come back during business hours.
The cop who gave me my stuff back directed me to the front of the building,
where my friends found me. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see anyone
in my life. They took me home, driving back the next day to deal with the bail
bond paperwork and to get my bag back.