Archive | Current Events RSS feed for this section

What to Expect When You’re Expecting… To Get Arrested!

2 Feb

Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 8.03.59 PM

I don’t know how you honored Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy in January, but I got arrested for civil disobedience on Wednesday while protesting the Senate’s refusal to call witnesses in the Impeachment Trial. Obviously I have a LOT to share on the topic, but since this blog is called pithypants, I’ll start with the lighter stuff first.

So here’s a quick primer on what to expect if you decide to take your outrage to the next level this year…

Lesson 1: If you’ve not yet been arrested (I hadn’t!) I highly recommend coming to DC and letting your first experience unfold with the US Capitol Police. They are professionals. While the experience isn’t exactly pleasant (I mean, it’s uncomfortable having your hands cuffed for hours), I didn’t encounter a single officer who seemed to be on a power trip. They were friendly, civil, and – if I’m being honest – entirely deserving of the salaries we pay them. In fact, when I learned that they probably wouldn’t be able to make change when I paid my fine, I suggested that they take the extra $10 and buy a six pack of beer.

Lesson 2: You shouldn’t offer unsolicited money to the police. Turns out, even if you’re being funny, they will get big eyes and respond seriously, “We can’t take that! We don’t do bribes!” Um… oops? Sorry about that. I wasn’t looking for a second charge!

Lesson 3: When you’re arrested in a “mass arrest,” you will be processed as a group. Which means: you’re only as fast as the slowest member of your group. The larger the group, the longer you’ll be in custody, because everyone has to go through all the steps before they start releasing people.

In a nutshell, the process consists of getting:

  • cuffed
  • patted down
  • having all your personal property (except clothes, ID and cash for the fine) removed and placed in a plastic bag
  • photographed
  • loaded in a paddywagon and transported to a processing area (in our case, a drafty warehouse over near the Navy Yard)
  • searched again (more thoroughly but still with your clothes on, thankfully!);
  • your cuffs moved from behind your back to in front of you
  • read your Miranda Rights
  • to sign your arrest certificate (after they run your ID through their database to check for priors)
  • fingerprinted
  • to pay your fine
  • your stuff back
  • released!

In our case, it took about four hours.

Lesson 4: Consider your clothing carefully if you think there’s a chance you might get arrested. I say this because most of my regrets were around aspects of my clothing. I was grateful to have my big winter coat for the hours that we were sitting in the cold warehouse. I was also glad to have worn a sports bra rather than a regular under-wire bra because it made the bra checks (performed by a female officer) easier. (In case you’re wondering, for a bra check, they ask you to lean forward slightly and they grab and shake the band of your bra so that if you have anything there, it will fall out.) Conversely, I kicked myself for wearing skinny jeans. Had I known my stomach would be exposed, I probably would not have worn something that showcased my tubby muffin top. Next time I might wear a dress. ūüôā

Lesson 5:¬†Know what you’ll be charged with. In my case, I learned a new vocabulary word: incommoding. Look it up.

Lesson 6: If there’s a chance you’ll get arrested, be sure to carry cash (to pay your fine) and a valid ID in your pocket. If possible, ditch anything else because it just slows the whole process down (see Lesson 3). In our case, our fines were $50, payable in cash, so for the people who didn’t have cash on them, we pooled our money to cover them.

Lesson 7: When possible, team up with an organized group that knows the ropes. I was fortunate enough to have been with a group that was familiar with the process. They let us know what actions might lead to arrest, made it clear what consequences we might face if we were arrested, and provided forms for us to complete before protesting to secure legal representation in the event that we got arrested.

After I was released from custody, I walked out the back door of the station, completely disoriented and unsure how I’d get home. As I was fishing my phone out of my plastic bag of belongings, I heard a small group of people cheering and chanting, “Thank you, we love you!” from a hotel parking lot across the street. I had not expected a welcome committee, but it was incredibly nice to be met by a lawyer who made a copy of my arrest record, asked how I’d been treated, and verified how many people were still awaiting release, while another person brought me food and asked if I needed to use a bathroom. They planned to stay there until the last person was released so that if anyone hit any hiccups or needed help paying the fine, they would be covered.

Lesson 8: Be sure you have an Uber/Lyft app on your phone so you have an easy way to get home. I was one of the few people from the DC area who got arrested. The others were from Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and even California. Which is to say: I’m probably one of the only people who had a remote sense of where I was in the city. And even so, it was after dark and I didn’t know how close a metro was, so I was grateful to grab an Uber.

Lesson 9: Even if you’re tempted, don’t tell your Uber driver, “I just got out of jail!” unless you want him to go silent, drive quickly, and look at you suspiciously in the rearview mirror. On second thought: definitely tell your driver you were arrested. Way better than making small talk for 20 minutes.

Lesson 10:¬†Listen to the stories of the people who took the leap with you. (Not that it’s difficult ‚Äď without a phone or any other source of entertainment, all you have to pass the time is each other.) You’ll be inspired by the retired Army Colonel who has been in town from New York protesting every day since January 6; by the soft-spoken college student who came out from Wisconsin because she doesn’t see the point of a college degree if our country continues on the path it’s on; by the young nurse from California who flew in that morning just to protest, knowing she might miss her return flight back because she got arrested; by the Marine running for US Congress, whose uncle was the regional president of the NAACP in Mississippi; or by the man who now wears a body camera to protests after losing multiple teeth in the violence at Charlottesville in 2017. These people made me proud to be an American.

And finally, if you want to see what we did that led to arrest, here’s a link to a pretty thorough video from that day.

 

 

Live from DC… it’s EQUALITY!

26 Jun

copyright pithypants 2015

I was home on my couch, nestled in for the night, when I heard a rumor that the White House was rainbow-colored. So I had no choice but to change out of my pajamas (and into my only marginally more appropriate workout clothes) and walk the eight blocks down to the White House to witness history.

I may have shown up alone with only my iPhone for company (and documentation), but the crowd was INCLUSIVE. People were welcoming, joyful and celebratory, handing off cameras so strangers could help each other get better angles than traditional selfies would afford.

I saw women jumping, men hugging, and more than a few people squealing. I took my share of photos (and helped others with theirs), then stood quietly under a tree, taking it all in. There may have been a few tears as I marveled that for once we got it right.

In a week that has contained much pain, it was a balm to see LOVE come out on top.

 

See This Film: From This Day Forward

23 Jun
Title Art - created by Trisha Shattuck

Artwork by Trisha Shattuck Рpending permission for use

Last week was the AFI DOCS Film Festival in DC. If you couldn’t gather it from the name, it’s a documentary film festival.

Friday night, Alan and I made a beeline for the theatre on E Street so we could screen, “From This Day Forward,” which is¬†described on its website this way:

From This Day Forward is a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother, Marcia, to accept, but her parents stayed together. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage survived the radical changes that threatened to tear them apart.

In the wake of Caitlin n√©e Bruce making headlines, it’s a timely topic, but that’s not what drew us to the screening.

It was on my radar because – some years earlier – my sister ¬†told me that one of the students she had become friends with¬†through her job at the University of Michigan was using kickstarter.com to raise funds to make a documentary about her family, focusing on her father’s¬†transgender journey in northern Michigan.

I’m something of a kickstarter and gofundme junkie because I believe¬†there’s not enough art, beauty or understanding in the world, so if I spot an opportunity to help reverse that, I do what I can.

Admittedly, most of my gambles have not paid off – aside from Calligraphuck,¬†which seems to be thriving yet somehow lost my donor gift¬†of profane greeting cards so I still haven’t actually handled the product. (Probably for the best or half my Christmas list might disappear in one year!)

So imagine my joy when I learned that a film I had contributed to actually made it to the big screen! There was no way I was going to miss it Рand since Alan is pretty much the best partner ever, he accompanied me without even knowing what we were going to see.

Turns out? Incredible movie. Not only did Sharon Shattuck (the director) do a fantastic¬†job with the images and videography, she also crafted a clever backdrop for the story by using her father’s¬†artwork and her own wedding to unravel the threads of her parents’ marriage and their family dynamic.

Early in the movie she quotes her dad, Trisha, as saying, “Sharon, whenever you get married, I hope you’ll let me wear a dress when I walk you down the aisle…” The rest of the movie then builds to her wedding day, with the suspense of the reveal (will her dad wear a dress?!) flowing like an undercurrent, subtly tugging us forward as we learn about her parents’ marriage.

I won’t ruin the reveal. I will just say this: the film is loaded with gorgeous¬†imagery – both in the form of Michigan landscapes and Trisha’s artwork;¬†even so, the most beautiful part of the film is actually the message – that¬†a marriage unfolds in many unexpected ways, and love actually can conquer all.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only person wiping at my cheeks when the credits rolled. And I’m probably not the only person now trying to get one of Trisha’s paintings in my house.

Check out the trailer here, and see if it’s coming to your city soon – you’ll be glad you did:

“And justice for all?”

25 Nov

Image Source: https://ionetheurbandaily.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/mike-brown-street.jpg?w=660

Last night I went to bed shortly after learning of the Grand Jury’s decision to not indict the officer who killed Michael Brown. I was sad and outraged.

I’m not saying that the officer should necessarily be convicted (I’d need to see all the evidence to decide), but¬†I can’t understand how – in a case where an unarmed teenager was shot six times – there isn’t enough evidence to at least charge the shooter and move forward to trial. At least, that’s my understanding of what a Grand Jury is supposed to determine.

As I turned off my light for the night, I thought about Michael Brown’s family – and my friends who weren’t born with white skin.

About¬†45 minutes later, I was awakened by what sounded like screams coming from my alley. I bolted out of bed, grabbing my cell phone, thinking someone was being attacked and I’d need to call 911. Once I got my bearings, however, I realized¬†I was hearing shouting, not screaming, and there were many voices, not one.

I pulled my shades and looked out to see waves of red and blue light, indicating police were already on the scene. Waking up a bit more, I realized that I was hearing a crowd of people protesting the Ferguson verdict. Because¬†my windows don’t face the street, I could only see the police lights and hear the chanting.

My mind raced – was it a peaceful protest or was it teetering on the edge of a riot? I stood at my window, listening, and finally deducing that the voices and lights were moving – presumably marching down 16th Street to the White House.

I sagged back into bed, contemplating my reaction. I’d¬†instinctively grabbed my phone to call the police and had found some reassurance when I¬†realized they were already involved with whatever was happening.

 

One the whole, police do far more good than bad. And they’ve voluntarily signed up to put themselves in the line of danger¬†to protect and serve their communities.¬†I appreciate their service. But I wonder how different my view would be if I hadn’t been born with pale¬†skin… if I were pulled over because my car looked “too nice” for me to own, if I had to worry that by wearing a hoodie I’d look “suspicious.”

If that were the case, I can’t say my first reaction in a potentially threatening situation would be to call the police. And that’s the conversation I think we need to be having.

Rather simply looking for¬†justice in the conviction of his shooter, wouldn’t Michael Brown’s life be better commemorated¬†by opening a real dialogue about white privilege and racial profiling,¬†so we can begin challenging the thinking that prompts officers to read threats where they don’t exist – and that can prevent¬†minorities from seeing police as their allies?

So let’s keep this conversation going. But let’s also remember that¬†conversations aren’t people.¬†Michael Brown was¬†a “gentle giant,” a student and a son.

While he might not have gotten justice, I hope his legacy brings justice for others.

 

I have a BETTER bucket challenge for you.

19 Aug
Don't laugh - he's raising awareness.

Don’t laugh – he’s raising awareness.

I think it’s great how the Ice Bucket challenge has raised awareness of ALS. I’m glad people started clarifying that really, the thing to do is¬†BOTH share a video of yourself getting iced AND donate to the cause.

That said, I’m kind of sick of seeing the videos in my newsfeed. With the exception of one college friend (go, Hoyt!) who attempted to re-enact his best dance moves to “Ice, Ice Baby” before getting drenched, there’s nothing really amusing about watching people (in the heat of August) suffer from a mild dousing.

I’d like to up the ante in TWO WAYS.

First, there’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart (or my¬†belly button, if we’re speaking in literal terms) that almost no one talks about: Crohn’s Disease.¬†Perhaps that’s because the sufferers very often shit themselves. (Though actually, I don’t know – taking a flyer on that since it seems like most of¬†my friends over 40 like to share similar stories without even the benefit of an official diagnosis.)

Second, I think there’s a¬†better challenge to be had. Rather than dumping ice water over your head – which looks mildly refreshing in this August heat – I propose that to raise awareness for Crohn’s, you film yourself pouring some edible and biodegradable brown mixture (pudding? chocolate sauce?) down your shorts. Because unlike the non-existent connection between ice and ALS, there is a very real connection between food and Crohn’s – and messy pants.

Finally, because¬†we need a hashtag to help this thing go viral, I’d like to abbreviate the challenge. Instead of calling it the way-too-lengthy, “Spreading Crohn’s Awareness Together Challenge,” we’ll just go with the much more tweetable SCAT Challenge. Or #scatchallenge if you will.

So who’s on board?¬†Send me your videos or post and tag @pithy_pants so I can see your handiwork.

I’d do it myself – but I don’t have a yard… Seriously.

(Oh – and here’s where you can read about or donate¬†to the cause.)¬†