Monday, January 04, 2010

Tumbling

Was it really one week later when we went to the Center to confront Newsom? The cops were already there to block us from entering. Wait a second -- wasn’t this our Center? Newsom arrived, and a phalanx of cops escorted him inside. As soon as Newsom made it to the other side of the glass doors, the cops started bashing us. I stood with my back to them, encouraging the small crowd to challenge our exclusion. I was thrown into oncoming traffic, and probably would have tumbled face-first onto the asphalt if it wasn’t for Zee, who broke my fall, and we tumbled together into the middle of the street. Four of us were arrested. One arrestee was put into a choke-hold until she passed out; afterwards, a cop hit one protester in the face with his club, shattering one of her teeth and bloodying her entire face.

We knew that the Center wasn’t on our side, but we didn’t expect that Center staff would call the cops and watch while they bashed us. Or, that even with news coverage all over the place, the Center would never even make some limp statement of regret. Instead, those of us who were arrested were held in jail for up to three days and faced ridiculous charges like assault on a police officer (four counts for me) and felony “lynching,” an antiquated term for removing someone from arrest. But that night was emotional for more personal reasons as well. Zee and I were no longer that close, but here he was catching my fall. Crying inside the police van, of course we couldn’t help but remember the first time we’d met, and bonded inside a different police van, although that time we’d planned our arrests well ahead. This time I was worried about the pain in my wrists -- my fingers were turning blue, and I asked an officer to loosen my cuffs. Of course he tightened them; I was released that night, in part because my hands were swollen and even the jail staff were worried. The pain in my wrists and arms was debilitating enough in general; I was scared it would get much worse. It was already overwhelming; soon it would become systemic, and I wouldn’t be able to call it repetitive stress injury anymore, or not just repetitive stress injury, although this wasn’t because of my arrest. Back then it got worse for a few weeks and then it was back to the usual. It’s now when I can’t even imagine wearing those glamorous outfits, just the arrangement of fabric would make my body hurt too much.

Walking out of the jail in layers of glittery makeup and a red gingham dress, but without my wig, my hot pink jacket or accessories or even the big stuffed flamingo originally wrapped around my waist as part of my ensemble, I spotted a trick of mine, walking his dog. Or was it the next morning, I think it might have been the next morning. Why do I remember 16 hours, but also it seems like I came right out? I am sure that the trick didn’t recognize me. He and his boyfriend hired me the first time, the second time it was just the two of us; both times were hot, hotter than most of the sex I had when I wasn’t getting paid. Driving me home, he had pointed out a homeless man knocked to the ground by the cops, who were holding him face-down on the sidewalk while cuffing his hands behind him. That’s the worst, the trick had said, and I’d hoped for solidarity or analysis or understanding, but instead he continued: “having to arrest a dirty person.”

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