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This is not political

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by geshel, Jan 3, 2003.

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  1. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    This goes much deeper than that.

    This is Jack Neis' email of 11/21 about his experience after
    being arrested at the SOA protest.

    My dear friends:

    I was arrested last weekend during a demonstration in
    Columbus, Georgia protesting the existence of the School of the
    Americas; a school that is the symbol of the worst in this
    country's foreign policy. I will most probably receive a six month
    sentence in federal prison. Kate and I are adamant opponents
    of this school, as most of you know. HOWEVER. This missive is
    not about the school. It is about my experience the last few
    days: it is about the erosion of civil rights.

    I would appreciate your attention. I think that you will find it
    interesting. I was one of those fortunate to be in the company of
    the people who "crossed the line" during the School of the
    Americas Watch /SOAW demonstration at Fort Benning. The
    charge we were arrested for is trespassing. No property
    damage. No violence. No threats. It is a Petty misdemeanor.
    In some states a petty misdemeanor is not even legally
    considered a crime.

    In the past, violators of this ordinance, including repeat
    "offenders" were processed, arraigned immediately and
    released on their own recognizance until their trial months later.
    Everyone knew that they could, and repeaters expected that they
    would, receive a prison sentence. This year things were a bit

    As usual, our group of ninety-odd included some seniors. (well
    into the seventies). Keep them in mind as I continue. We were
    cuffed with plastic ties behind our backs, and taken to a
    processing area. We were interrogated (no Miranda), printed,
    and photoed. At this point we expected to be quickly arraigned,
    and released.

    We were then turned over to the US Marshal service. Again we
    were interrogated, fingerprinted and photoed.

    Now it starts getting ugly.

    have not been convicted: therefore assumed not guilty of even
    this charge. We can be HELD (not punished) for up to forty-eight
    hours.) They put us in SHACKLES and LEG CHAINS for
    transportation to the Muskogee County jail. Shackles are those
    things where your hands are locked in a fixture at your waist
    fastened to a chain around your waist that you see on serial
    killers. With leg chains you have to shuffle to walk.

    At the jail, everything was taken from us, and we were issued
    prison uniforms (short sleeved pajamas), one blanket, a towel,
    and a plastic cup. Again we were interrogated, printed and
    photoed. (No Miranda) Muskogee County has just dedicated a
    new jail. Apparently there was no room in the new section: they
    led us back to the old jail for "holding". It was dirty, rusty, and
    COLD. We wore our blankets constantly to keep warm. The
    blanket was just barely long enough to cover for sleeping.

    "Breakfast" was at 4:20 AM, and the "food" was despicable.

    During the entire time we were incarcerated, requests for
    medication were ignored.

    All day Monday and Tuesday, the 34 men spent the entire day in
    a 12 x 15 room as we awaited arraignment. Picture that. The
    women spent the day in a similar room. There were a lot more
    of them.

    I was raised upper middle class, went to a parochial grade
    school, Jesuit Prep high school, and Notre Dame University. I
    spent five years in the Air Force as a flight instructor. Beginning
    my career at Northwest Airlines, I was pretty much sure about
    everything in life, as would most given that experience. Then I
    was laid off (it turns out for almost nine years.) Given the job
    opportunities in 1970, I ended up driving a city bus in
    Minneapolis. Those 3+ years gave me the greatest part of my
    education. I learned about the lives of real folks. I got to know
    the poor, the black and the red, and the unemployed. I learned
    that I really hadn't known much at all about people. This
    experience in jail was another such step. My fellow cellmates
    included priests, college professors, students, Catholic Worker
    volunteers, and even a couple who call themselves "full time
    activists". You know, "those" people.

    What a marvelous and diverse group of men!!!!!! I was humbled
    by their experiences, and their lives of dedication to their fellow
    human beings. As I was sitting Sunday night with some of them;
    feeling the cold and the separation, my stomach twisted in a
    knot mostly from an ignorance of what was to come, I looked up
    and said," I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be right now than
    right here."

    We sang together, we "mantra"ed together in that crowded little
    room, slowly walking around in single file as we intoned for the
    better part of half an hour. We could hear through the walls the
    women singing loudly. We prayed together, we joked and we
    talked. I was in awe Considering my puny contributions to
    humanity, I felt somewhat undeserving to be in their company.

    The court arraignments dragged on. Although some of us made
    personal statements, I believe most of them were shorter than a
    minute. There was a constant repetition of our "rights" and the
    charges against us. In spite of our attempts with our legal
    people to expedite the proceedings, and therefore the release of
    those yet to come, the delays were unbelievable. One woman
    late in the afternoon (after 4) was asked why she was shaking.
    The courtroom was cold, and she had not been fed since 4:20
    that morning. Everyone else in the courtroom was wearing
    either heavy long-sleeved turtleneck shirts or suit and tie. A good
    number of the spectators were wearing their jackets and
    sweaters. Another woman who was diabetic had had not only no
    food, but no meds since arrest. The judge evidently thought it
    somehow entertaining to throw in adolescent humor.

    The proceedings lasted until just short of the 48 hour deadline.

    Finally came the last surprise. $5000 each for bail. High school
    students, college students, unemployed, poor, rich, first timer or
    repeater; whatever. Unprecedented! In the history of the SOAW,
    NO ONE has ever not shown up for trial! The judge mentioned,
    "These are different times"! I know that I broke the law. I am
    ready and willing to take the consequences. I will probably
    receive 6 months in federal prison. I do not agree with it, but I
    knew the risks.

    But evidently the word has come down from above. Possibly
    from John Ashcroft himself. We have committed the most
    grievous of crimes. We are attempting to bring attention to and
    to criticize our government's foreign policy, and we must be dealt
    with. In a nation founded on Dissent, Dissent will not be
    tolerated. Make life for those protestors as miserable as you

    Of course there's also the chance that once in jail, regardless of
    whether convicted, and regardless of for what, all persons not
    only can, but should, be treated as animals. What would you
    think if you were mistakenly arrested, held for 48 hours and
    were treated like this? Is this sort of treatment OK?

    Well, one of our number will be found innocent. He was
    dragged onto the base by a soldier. He has many witnesses.
    Yet he received the same treatment.

    Michael Parenti has warned that wars are between the rich and
    the poor. Poor countries don't need government. Government is
    all about money, and its purpose is to move it from the
    population to the rich. Laws are written to protect the rich from
    the poor. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT! After our foreign
    policy has made use of the backs and lives of the poor around
    the world, the system will begin to attack and subjugate its own
    people. They need only fear as a tool. I think it's starting.

    We are at a crucial point in the history of this country. We must
    decide whether it should be an ally in a world of nations, or an
    empire. Before you answer, find out what an empire is, and who
    runs it.

    George and his regime want to rule the world. Do you want that?
    I didn't say he wants the United States to rule the world. He is
    not in this for us. There is always the possibility that he might
    actually think he is. But if so, he is governing from a position of
    ignorance "..as would most given that experience."

    Sometimes you have to question what you have always
    believed. It's hard. It's uncomfortable. It's unnerving. And it can
    be painful.

    Believe me, I know.

    Jack Neis POC
  2. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    That's very chocking, and horrible. I'd like to see the other side of the story too, though, but if even half of it is true, it's appalling.

    I thought they couldn't do anything to you if they forget to read you your rights?
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    It's when I read things like that I'm glad I'm not in America.
  4. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Agreed, very horrible situation for those arrested. But it's one side of the story, and from a person who was directly involved. I'd also like to see the other side to understand why the police felt it was necessary to use those tactics. Perhaps not all of that demonstration was peaceful, and keeping 90+ disobedient people under control can't be easy.

    And, on the "this is not political" disclaimer, I don't agree. If everyone's replies are confined to the police's treatment maybe this will be kept out of politics, but as the whole reason for the demonstration was a political statement, and the views printed are political as well, I can't see how that will be possible.
  5. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    "It's when I read things like that I'm glad I'm not in America."

    How long do you think it will be before stuff like that happens here?
    Not too long with "Poodle" Blair around!

  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Heh, I really don't know... I'd like to think it wouldn't.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

    I've got zero sympathy for these people after they admitted to breaking the law. Maybe they'll start protesting the treatment of criminals now.
  8. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Im not going to delete just lock it up for a little while longer. We dont want anyone to think that posts like this are wrong, but we have a hold on it for a few weeks.

    Got to stick to the guidlines.

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