Some people think I’m a badass because I’ve been arrested a bunch of times for protesting. But I don’t know.
My friend Ed, now he’s a badass. He sometimes introduces himself as Ed of the Chicago 15. That’s because in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, he and 14 others broke into a draft office in Chicago, seized the draft records, took them out in the alley and burned them. They were arrested and tried. Ed not only spent 18 months in federal prison, but the prison was in northern Minnesota! American Siberia, eh?
Ed is a badass. And he has a bunch of badass friends. I know they’re badasses because they too have a city and number after their names: Pete of the New York 9; Sally of the Chattanooga 12. That means they all did something politically badass, like chain themselves to a nuclear warhead, and stood trial for it.
I don’t have a city and number after my name. When crippled protestors get arrested, it ain’t the same. Just last month I witnessed about 40 crippled protestors get arrested right outside the White House. Now back in the good old days it was easy. Any old mope with a beef and handcuffs could walk right up to the White House gate, lock himself to it and get arrested. No questions asked. But now they’ve erected a “security perimeter” around the White House. There’s a line of yellow DO NOT CROSS police tape stretched from tree to tree across the street and it runs about a half block around in all directions. Cross that line and it’s prison in northern Minnesota for you, pal!
Well these 40 cripples crashed through the tape like runners at the finish line when the cops weren’t looking and they got all the way up to the White House gate and whipped out the handcuffs. At first the cops were furious. They wrestled down all the verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who walk). The cops huddled. How should they handle these disobedient cripples? They broke huddle. An ominous van pulled up. It said Department of Homeland Security on the side. Uh oh! Could this be the infamous Dick Cheney Torture-Mobile? The cops opened the back doors of the van. They took out a folding table and chairs and set them up on the street. They lined the cripples up, wrote them tickets and let them go. Catch and release, like a fishing outing for pacifists.
Now suppose 40 verts brazenly crashed the White House “security perimeter” like that. First they would have been tasered then bound and gagged with duct tape and hauled off to Guantanamo, never to be seen again. But cripples get tickets, like common jay walkers, because tasering cripples don’t look so good. It plays right into their hands. Plus, hauling off 40 cripples is a pain in the ass. Cops can just fling 40 verts into a paddy wagon. But for 40 cripples you need a fleet of school buses with wheelchair lifts. And it takes about 20 hours to transport them all. So the cops say screw it.
So about all I have to show for all my arrests is a bunch of carbon copies of tickets. I suppose that’s a good thing. Spending 18 months in prison in northern Minnesota probably isn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds.