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Kyle McGruther Arrested with H.L. at The WTC.
from The Hollywood Liberal

by Kyle
I'd rather talk about it than write it down . . . Feeling depressed and I don't want to kick. After I left my sitting place, I walked over to the WTC. Seeing no one I recognized, I walked 4 blocks north, sort of to look for somewhere to pee, but mainly to kill time. Arriving back I saw D and others of D---, so I hooked up w/ them, attaching myself to Dave because he seemd knowledgeable of arrest and whatnot. Not that I intended to get arrested. The die-in would have entailed that, but that was for the end of the march, and I hadn't decided yet what I was going to do, though I would probably opt not to get arrested, you know? There were many cops about, and the whole thing was starting off very disorganized, there being debate over whether we were walking in 4s or 2s. The cops made an announcement that only those at the very front could hear, and then moved us out. We weren't really moving in 2s so much as en masse, being also herded across the street by the police. As D and I were crossing the signal was flashing and I felt reluctant to cross but went with the flow, since D didn't seem worried, and many people came behind so that, once across the street, we were about half-way along the block. As we crossed the police became very loud and aggressive and they closed their trap, essentially. Bike cops ringed us with their bikes, and soon the orange netting was brought out, in a double row around the cars that parked at the side of the street (forgot: as we started, press were ordered out of the street and to the other side, or else they'd be arrested). We were well trapped between the fence for the church (of St. someone) and the net. While putting up the net there was a man sitting in his car who declined the offer to be let out, for some reason. Various people in the march started chanting, shouting, "Let us disperse!" because we were given no option of dispersal. Everyone singing, "Power to the Unions, Power to the People." Good because of what the cops are dealing with, union-wise. No effect of course. Old ladies yelling in cops' faces. A waiting period of I don't know how long, wherein updates on the situation were passed around, I called Jen and Mom to inform them, we sat down to wait, wrote important #s on my arm, gave our names to the Lawyer's Guild (NLG) over the phone, and got to know one another. A legal observer caling NLG to express concerns aboutb eing unable to fully/properly inform or help anyone, then to give own info as preparing for arrest. Indy Media photographger taking pics of each of us and handing out business cards requesting an interview at a later date. Film and cameras were being confiscated and kept for "evidence," so I dunno if he'll still have my pic. Chatting with N, D, J. Our turn came, touching hands with a tearful R, A's girlfriend. Following instructions to put my bag down behind me, hearing How-To-Cuff being explained to rookie cops getting the credit, "Put your hands together like you're prayin', that they won't tighten up so it won't hurt so much." Brought out into the street and searched, "I do not consent to this search." "What?" Repeated. Being searched and berated by non-Arresting Officer (AO), can't recall everything exactly what he said, but if you watch Law & Order or NYPD Blue you'll get the gist. "Don't talk law to me! 'Do not consent.' Shut up! You got anythin' sharp in your pockets? Y'got anythin' sharp?! Anything's gonna fuckin' cut us?!" Comments about my "pedicure" (stick on toenail polish, which I'd forgotten until mention of it was made). Me always looking down. Officer Charismas, like "charismatic"; he's my friend... "Look at the fuckin' camera!" Polaroids taken of us with our AO (mine: Gard #422). THe sun was really bright so I looked all pissed off. Guess I kinda was, too. Sat down in the street by cops, picked back up after 10 minutes maybe, with a cramp in my back. Put on a municipal bus. "Sit up to the front of the seat so your cuffs don't tighten up," said a father who'd been arrested with his son. A cop giving water to a lady up front, then a girl nearby a bottle to give to us, though the other cops wouldn't let her. Captain asking if anyone's cuffs were too tight, need changing, anyone too hot? Cops and prisoners consrting, "Where you from?" to L, my arrest-mate on my left, he from Manhattan, Gard asked me, "You from Manhattan too?" I nodded, he made a "huh" shrug and expression. I felt bad for lying, though it wasn't really lying, it was just avoiding a long story, the usual story, when people ask where I'm from. Bus takes us to Pier 57, pull in, shitloads of cop cars on the ready. File out, bag hard to hold w/ sweaty hands. Lined up against wall at entrance, A getting pic taken again sans hat, L being yelled at to get out of the way of the picture, though there wasn't any place to go to. 7pm ish on arrival. Asked L if I could use his sholder to scratch my nose, he said ,"ok as long as it doesn't leave the building." Sent to a property de- and re- bagging table, surly blonde woman cop, threw away my Nalgene bottle (the one with the cooler stickers), asking, "What's in this?" "Water," sez I. Tossed. Bastard. And my granola bars, too. Keep my driver's license and cash and keys. Worried about my passport. Thoughts on car-culture: you can keep your driver's license, you USA ID, but not your international ID, your passport. And you can keep your cash, because you need to stay active in the economy. Fuck. Cuffs cut off as sent to surly black guy cop, thinking to myself as he yells at me, frisks me roughly several times with much ball-jiggling, and tells me to take off my shoes, that this is an awful lot like catching a plane in th is country... Bend over hands on rail step back farther farther now "spread 'em" wide, wider, wider, ball-grabbing/rubbing, hold me so I can stand w/o falling. Nice guy. Shown to my chain-link and razor wire pen, "Here's your cup, one cup per person. Wlecome to Pier 57, enjoy your stay." Har har.MIlling, drinking water, "I'm reminded of childhood hamsters." Talking with fellow arrestees, port-a-potty trips. Rumors of asbestos and informants on health concerns of our detainment facility. Food brought in: nasty bologna sandwiches and milk. Drank the milk which killed my appetite, tried to give away the sandwich, "Keep it, you'll need it later." Names called, people taken away. Chanting and cheering and applause for new arrestees being brought in, increasingly louder and raucous. My name called, taken for property re-de-and-re-bagging and labelling this time, ooh! Property clerk with a Polish name, I asked to make sure if it was. A pause on my bandana (others' had been taken away as "arresting evidence"), folding, thinking, shrugging, labelled as "1 gray handkerchief." J kara moratta keychain causing more pausing, "Whazzat, Miss Kitty?" "It's a keychain, a Polish girl gave it to me. You can write down '1 token of affection' if you want." They let me have it for my keys. Excellent. It was to provide me many hours of time-passing through the spinning of it. After going through property checking and what all, got moved to the other side of the Pier, where I made a good friend, B.K. Bonded. Good guy. Haven't heard from him since. God dammit I hate that so much! I've met so many people that I've never heard from again, and most of them I guess it doesn't really matter. But when you feel that bond. Know there's something special about the linking of these two psyches, lifelines, energy paths, souls however the hell you put it. Dammit I'm embroiled in it daily, right now. Especially with Justyna, who claims she's going crazy and can't be bothered to see me. All of this, following "BK" wasn't actually "straight from the journal". Deal with it. All over it. Get up in it. Unh! Ok, enough. Um... BK was a Red Sox fan, which is how we got started talking (see? Sports can serve a useful purpose!). Journalism major, nabbed while taking photos. Retained the business card of the photographer who took my picture before being cuffed (which I'd dumbly consented to the throwing away of by the property officer, dumbasses that we are, he for being a cop, me for being a dumbass). When BK laughed, it was through his teeth, which created an amusing whistling on the exhale. I enjoyed it greatly. Reminded me of when I was younger and wanted to laugh like Bert (of "Ernie and"). Well, similar, at any rate. I'm extemporizing a lot more here... oh well. Verbatim has its drawbacks, you know? Like monotony. Yes. BK said he'd try to remember my email to send me the address of the aforementioned photographer, but that was many hours before we were let out. I saw him as he was being called away, later in The Tombs, but couldn't catch his attention. Much later I tracked down his photography website and wrote to the address listed there, which he probably doesn't check, so, oh well. Another one lost in the e-ther. At this time in the Pier things were livening up, as more and more people were brought in. Much chanting and singing, cheering as each new group of arrestees was paraded by, whether in or out. At some point I started smelling carbon monoxide from the buses idling inside, waiting to disgorge their load of terrorists, anarchists, communists, whatever. Some guy had smuggled in a PayDay candy bar, and I jealously, ravenously watched as he generously split it up with those in his immediate vicinity. But at that point, too, I was considering a "hunger strike" (mainly at the prospect of having to eat bologna sandwiches, but also in keeping with ideas of fasting, lately, as well as a recent drop in the need/desire to eat... "tachycardia, insomnia, and anorexia"), but damned if'n that PayDay didn't look tasty, and it made me think fondly of my 2 granola bars ceremoniously tossed in the trash by the pigs. Ok, a bit more verbatim for awhile, because though boring, it's easier, and we got a ways to go here... Eventually called out and cuffed again (tighter this time), to be put on a Corrections bus and taken to Central Processing ("The Tombs"). Boys in the back half, girls in the front in solitary boxes. Rowdy group, fun. Taunting each other and the police. Overhear Corrections Officer Dejesus talking something about, "Shouldna been out there anyway" is all I can recall, but it was, you know, anti-protesters, "they're all terrorists" kind of stuff. From inside the bus a verbal barrage on a variety of fronts from "Fuck you" to more political and better-thought out stuff. Continues from outside, CO moves into the "I support our troops, you don't you coward communists" type of stuff, which draws a big response since pretty much everyone in the bus is associated with anti-war groups, "What's brave about killing babies?!" and such. CO Dejesus storms onto the bus and so like a 3rd Grade substitute teacher gives us a, "I am Corrections Officer Dejesus [stabs a finger at badge], I am not a police officer, I don't give a fuck what you were arrested for. This is my bus and while you're on it you just shut the fuck up!" Very Hollywood. We all laughed at him. We would have pointed, but, you know: cuffs. Which were very uncomfortable on a very uncomfortable bus. Poor me? Poor enough. A started reciting lyrics to a very moving protest song, then started singing it, all the way to The Tombs, where we arrived around 2 or 3 AM. Apparently there were supporters in the park across the street, including Sh and others from DC, who I couldn't see from my side of the bus, but it was nice to know they were there. Called off the bus one-by-one in groups of 5, stand up against the wall, chained, led inside. Once inside it gets a lot more confusing. By their nature The Tombs are confusing, and we were led hither and thither, and even yon. Up and down, around, from one room to the next, for various durations. In the first room I ate a cheese sandwich. Excuse me, a "processed cheese-like food" sandwich. OY did it hurt! Having only had a small salad, water, and a quart of milk in the past 20 hours, yeah. Waiting in this first room to be called out, a cop kept calling out names of people that weren't there, at which points everyone would call out, "Escaped!" A booming noise coming from the air shaft in the middle of the room (from people leaning on it in our cell or up/downstairs) causing folks to speculate, "It's the revolution!" Called, another cell. Called out again, chained in 5s with new people. Taken for fingerprinting (for a non-fingerprintable offense, mind you). Neat new fingerprinting computers that of course really don't work well at all. The cop ("Just relax and let me do this.") had to scan my fingers about 10 times each. Some funny guy commenting all the while how he plans to redecorate the whole building, each room, once he buys it, when he's a millionaire (from the lawsuit, perhaps). A series of cells (one an interview room playing New Age mood music... quite nice, really, but we were only there for a few minutes) and hallways, chained and unchained, sitting, standing, walking. Taken for mugshots, prior to which sitting in one hallway with cockroaches for some time. Cops there yammering away. One decided to inform us how lucky we were we weren't being sent to Ryker's, talking all about the "bad shit that goes on there." Yeah, thanks. Stuff it. The other cop just being unnecessarily crude. And all talking amongst themselves about overtime pay and how to fill out the forms. Sounds like a pretty shitty job, really. The cops amused themselves by printing out "Bush/Cheney 'O4" posters and putting them up all over the place, for example right where you had to look when getting your profile mug shot taken. Har har. Whatever. Some Kramer-resembling guy in my chain-gang shouting at me to smile for my mug shots, which got him yelled at and messed up my "wry smirk" look I was going for. Bastard. Then taken down, down, down (I think!) past the surreal zoo of occupied cells, solitary cells, with people in various states contained within. Paused at one cell, had half of another sandwich, this one with "peanut-ish sugary spread". Atrocious. Taken to EMS for a "physical," amounting to: "Are you healthy?" "Yes." "Back to your cell." Put in a cell without enough room where I got my first (and only) sleep of the night, with my feet in the air, legs up against the bathroom stall wall. I think I managed to get 30 minutes in total, broken of course. Fortunately I had Opeth stuck in my head, and a keychain to twirl. Wrists sore from clapping for everyone, and from playing with my sideburns. It all becomes a big blur from here on. Stayed on the same floor, but was moved around a fair amount. Ended up in one big cell with friends, which was good. L, D, BB were there. Others. J-W, tall long-haired rabble-rouser was interesting company. He'd just been taken out and then brought back because of a "problem with his fingerprints," fingerprints that were unnecessary to begin with. He was irate. It was entertaining. Passed the first chunk of time by occasionally resting my eyes while stretched out on the floor and twirling the keychain, talking, telling jokes, staring at the walls, staring at the floor, listening to political conversation. Someone had started a pool, $1 buy-in, winner take all, the winner being the last person in the cell. One of the cell block guards played her radio for awhile, and even obligingly tuned to WBAI Pacifica radio at our requests, which was nice of her. She had to turn it off when the Warden came around. There were frequent visits by the Warden and Corrections Oversight Committee members who, we learned, were investigating the conditions at the Pier, but were otherwise unhelpful, being simply politicians who smiled, and nodded, and strolled through the cell block smilingly asking, "How are ya?" How the fuck do you think I am! L, BB, D, and a few others, we watched new guys come and go, and never got called ourselves. As the 24-hour mark approached, some started getting agitated. We started thinking of ourselves like the grizzled veterans in a war flick who never die and don't want to get to know the new recruits. L and D on either side of me constantly checking the time, bugging me out. I was trying to do the hopes-high-expectations-low thing, figuring on being there at least 30 hours, and yelling at them to shut up about the time because it just makes it worse. Well, L had an excuse, cuz he wasn't even a protester, I guess. Whatever, we all deal with the passage of time differently. Some new guys started tossing loose change into an empty milk carton, which morphed in a game of hacky-sack with the crushed version of the same milk carton, which then became a round of 2-on-2 basketball with the same milk carton, in which I participated. D getting really uptight about getting out of there, about 24-hours coming up. L too, and BB, and a Chinese tourist who hadn't checked out of his expensive hotel, and a Hungarian tourist who had to catch a plane. D, L, BB drawing me reluctantly into their efforts to harrass the COs, COCs, and NLG to get us the heck out of there. I did it for "solidarity," but my heart wasn't in it, and it showed, and they gave me some shit about it. No one likes a Nihilist. ("I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism... at least it's an Ethos!") At about the same time, around maybe 5pm we all got called. But wait! There weren't enough cuffs for me, so they sent me back! Blast! Well, got talking with this guy "Air" who lives a truer gypsy lifestyle, riding the rails, dumpstering, etc. He taught me some good tips. He tried to get everyone to give me the Last Man Pool, which I would've taken in a silent, "Well, if you insist..." sort of way, but nother guy brought up, "It's for the last guy in here." And right he was. And it was on $15 anyway. Eventually they called me, and I was taken up, up, up to a cell with interview rooms attached, where in the hallway there were frosted windows through which we could almost make out natural light and trees. It was nice. Met a guy who works for MLB. Confusion about whether or not to talk to the legal aide or to insist on someone from NLG. I chose the latter, but then got worried that I wouldn't be able to take the ACB or ACD or whatever it's called (the 6-mo. "probation" plea bargain), so I cut back in and asked the aide about it, and settled it. As I've said, I feel guilty but determined about this, because I want to be able to go back to Europe. A bit more time passed and we were taken to court, which was a bit shocking, with carpeting and wood and windows! Wow! I was the last of the three brought in with to be called up, the rigmarole, and let out. Snap. Outside was beautiful. Caught the end of the sunlight. Met by reps of the NLG for "check out," interview, and all the people waiting in the park cheering, supportive, Food Not Bombs supplying food. It was beautiful. But they needed Huggers. I needed a hug. I didn't get one until later, from Jen. But it was still good. Called Jen and my mom. When I said, "I just got out." A passing girl sincerely called out, "Congratulations!" Touching, really. Stuff happened. Saw D outside, but no one else. Went to the Property Reclaim area with a guy from the last cell. Waited in line for 3 hours or so. Saw a few people from inside, including L and his friend A, J, others. Food Not Bombs bringing food, coffee. I made a coffee run into Chinatown earlier, it was really good. Not until then did I realize exactly how badly I smelled, when I returned to the line and got a whiff of everyone else. Pungent. People in line passing the time by whistling tunes, singing when someone brought a guitar. The cops being bastards and fucking with us by taking long, random breaks, and only three working the entire process, and all of them looking for an excuse to refuse service, to shut the whole thing down, to re-arrest us. Whatever. One guy appearing in a window blocked by a plastic garbage bag, so like the Wizard of Oz. You give him your idea and claim form, and get sent around the other side, where you're not allowed to sit on the ground. I asked a cop why not, and he said, predictably enough, "...You know I don't even know. They just told us that's the deal." Right. Fucko. Keep up that uning loyalty. It'll do your captain/mayor/president proud. We passed the time by playing limbo under a guy's legs. Eventually got my stuff back from the Ron Jeremy resembling cop, and that was, well, it. Got lost trying to make my way to the WTC Path station, really feeling the exhaustion now, so close but so far, 1am or so. Dreading having to sit down on the train because I'd fall asleep. Feeling, on the platform, that familiar feeling of wanting to scream out, "DO YOU KNOW WHERE I'VE BEEN, MAN?!" Spied a Republican on the platform, so hung out near him, waiting for a break in his PDA-ing to strike up a conversation. No luck until we were on the train, and the conversation, though civil, was too short, and entailed pretty much him asking me, "Where does the urge to protest come from?" Man, if you don't know, I can't tell you. I dunno. I didn't know where it came from, really, myself. And I still don't know, except that I feel it stronger now. "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." -Martin Luther King, Jr.