SO… Xris is back in jail.
This time, the crime: RIDING HIS BIKE.
On Aug 27th, 2004, in a show of strength and a dress rehearsal for upcoming
Republican National Convention, NYC police arrested 250-350 bicycle riders
as they took part in the monthly ‘Critical Mass” bicycle ride.
I ride the Critical Mass Bike Ride every month, which I have to emphasize, is not a protest, as some would lead you to believe. It is just a ‘fun’ ride. A ride to celebrate bikes, and show what the streets could look like if there were fewer cars and more bikes. More smiles, less hostility, less pollution, and rainbows actually streaming out of people’s asses.
But not this past Friday. The only colors this time were the red and blue
marks on my wrists, and the black sot covering my body from trying to lay
down in the Guantamino Bay style pens built within a West Side Highway parking
The police, who normally tolerate and even escort the Critical Mass rides,
turned on the riders in several preplanned locations. They penned people in,
grabbed stragglers, including random people who just happen to be riding a
bike. Fun fact, the guy who was on the cover of the Daily News had never even
heard of Critical Mass. He was in a cell with me and told me he was just riding
his bike through the East Village to visit his girl friend when he was grabbed.
Different arrest tactics were used, ranging from penning in masses of people
for mass arrests, to herd tactics of hitting the random giselle that isn’t
in the safety of the herd. Even Chinese food delivery people ( Cwitical Whaa?)
were arrested. The police’s goal you may ask? To send a message to people
coming to city, “We are in control. Our masters are coming to town,
and in order to ensure that the rich, corrupt, heartless corporate commanders
regain power and destroy any attempts for us hard working cops to get a fair
contract, we shall arrest you. Hope you like your cuffs tight. Cause that’s
what’s in fashion tonight.” In fact, the bike rider next to me
had his plastic handcuffs strapped so tight he started bleeding.
Bike terrorist: Officer, my hands are now bleeding.
Lapdog: Shut up.
Bike Terrorist: I think there is something you will want to know about my blood.
Lapdog: Shut UP.
Bike Terrorist: There is something about my blood I thing you will want to know.
Lapdog: I said shut the hell up!
Bike Terrorist: I have a blood disease and I suggest you wear rubber gloves now that you have broken my skin.
This woke the officer out of his one track thinking for a moment, and in
a conversational tone he talked to the rider who explained he has Hepatitis
Luckily, I usually had fairly loose fitting cuffs, due to the fact that the cops all liked my shirt featuring Johnny Cash flipping the middle finger. “Nice shirt” was a phrase I heard over and over again from the men in blue. One prison guard said “Folsom Prison Blues, now you know what he was talking about.” Unfortunately, I already knew what he was talking about, but that’s another story.
SO they arrested me at 13th street and 7th avenue. I had just beaten the
closing of 14th street where the police with an unrolled temporary fence.
I became a bit of a loner as the main procession of 5000 riders were forced
to turn west on Fourteenth Street. I noticed a few riders getting arrested
at the temporary fence. Being a Videographer, my first instinct was to get
out my camera and hopes it would capture and/or discourage overly aggressive
behavior. After filming a few arrests, a white shirted police captain walked
up and ‘tagged’ me, as if to say -you’re it-. And suddenly
officers were holding me on my bike. The videographer next to me made a break
for it, and was thrown off of his bike, cutting up his legs. I later met this
bloodied videographer in a paddy wagon. His name was BEN and turns out I was
in BEN’s loft apartment last Friday when he hosted a Bike Messenger’s
Benefit screening of my film ‘Warriors: the Bike Race”. Another
of many small world experiences of the weekend.
SO I quietly complied and waited for my chance to escape. There actually
were several opportunities to “Team Spider” out of there. I was
able to slip out of one of my cuffs, and eyes were not always on me. But I
decided to ride it out for a while because it would have meant abandoning
my bike. And after recently fighting 3 chain-wielding Chinese food delivery
guys to reclaim my bike after a recent theft, I didn’t feel like just
walking away from my trusty steed to avoid what I hoped would be a glorified
traffic ticket. In hide sight, I should have kissed it good-bye.
So began the next 27 hours of be held, never being told whether or not I
was arrested, never being read my rights, or even told what my charges were.
Just being shuttled from pen to pen, cell to cell, corrections school bus
to corrections school bus, with a group of people ranging from a freaked out
flamer (“I’m too sensitive for this”) to a Japanese guy,
who had never heard of Critical Mass, to the Daily News cover story boy who,
after being told how epic (aka Great) it is to be on the cover of a major
New York Newspaper could only respond “who ARE you people”, and
a guy, again, not participating in the ride, who was just leaving his house
to catch a plane to Nevada for the Burning Man festival. I guess looked like
enough of a hippy to warrant arrest. By the end of his stay he was very interested
in riding the next Critical Mass. As was the Japanese guy, assuming his wife,
who listed him as a missing person, would let him.
Well, I wish I could say it got more interesting after that. But in reality,
we just proceeded with the endless wait to be shuffled and then shuffled again.
Photographed endlessly. Asked how much you make a week, list your roommates.
A lot of these questions were asked by people in the cell hallways, after
we were already detained, by mysterious men who typed the answers into Palm
Pilots. I don’t want to say I ‘lied’ to these defenders
of liberty, but lets just say that until I am told what my chargers are, my
roommate(s) remain anonymous. I later found out my roommate was arrested on
the bike ride too, so much for protecting him.
We were made to sit far too long in boiling hot buses during Saturday’s
record high temperatures. Requests for the fan to be put on were met with
mocking remarks. We were made to sit through one beauracratic screw up after
another. It became clear we were a training exercise for everyone. One funny
(disgusting) conversation I heard took place when we finally end up in the
Tombs ( NYC’s infamous underground ‘Central Booking’ area).
We were not going anywhere, and the one guy whose cuffs were so tight, his
swollen skin was bulging over them, asked to please have his cuffs loosened.
A young healthy looking guard started to take him to a room to cut the cuffs
off. His fat pig partner said “Where you takin’ him?”
“To cut off his cuffs.”
“ They’re too tight.”
I can’t even begin to describe the contempt and disgust contained in his chuckled “So.” The disgusting pig of a human then mocked his partner with “Why don’t YOU go ride a bike.”
The young cop responded, “ I do, I rode it here today.”
Then, the out of shape, short, fat, probably dead before he can spend his overtime, guard just rolled his eyes.
That was refreshing.
Most of the guards have been so broken like dogs; they don’t have a
freethinking bone in their body. One of the common questions I had to endure
was “Was it worth it?”
To which I would respond, “What, riding my bike?”
The ones who wanted to continue conversations would usually say I took their
questions the wrong way. I would respond, “If you just walked out your
front door and were lynched, how would you respond to someone Klan member
asking, -was it worth leaving your house?-…It’s pretty offensive.”
Others were convinced I, or the others, were arrested for protesting. The
guards would exhale and muttter in disgust “ Protestors.” Others
would say, “You think you accomplish anything?” I would insist,
I wasn’t protesting anything. I was just out on a monthly bike ride.
But I would sometimes remind members of the predominantly black guard population,
that if it weren’t for ‘protestors’, you be riding in the
back of the fucking bus.
Ignorant fucks need to learn their history.
A hundred some years ago you were considered ”Property.” So,
maybe you should stop snap out of your broken haze and use your brain. Your
blind obedience to the laws of a corrupt system are why you may be able to
sit on you fat ass for 50 bucks an hour with ridiculous 6 inch long fingernails
painted like an 8 year old child, but your kids are going to lucky to get
a job that lets them see a doctor when they’re sick.
Anyhow, where was I, oh yeah. Jail.
Ah, enough reminiscing. It was all pure dumbness, we were beauracratic test
subjects for fat cats who would love to see anyone who doesn’t neatly
plug into their plan disappear. Half the people in the cells who WERE planning
on going to the protest on Sunday now said they were not going. It’s
NOT worth it. (Good work prison guards). Others said they were telling their
FRIENDS not too go to the protests. (That actually was just the Flamer’s
plan, I’m not sure his friends will listen to him, he seems to have
a flair for being overdramatic).
First thing I did upon release, was pick up my personal belongings (minus all of my keys which they conveniently ‘lost’), and head to the Leftover Crack show, which unfortunately was over as I arrived. Bastards. Fortunately I was released in time to make it to our gig, after which I went home and nursed my ice cream headache gained from sleeping on the tomb floors.
---------------------Helpful hints if you are arrested:--------------------------------
Hang with vegans, their bologna sandwiches make for good pillows.
Don’t bet on the cockroach that’s already moving when the race starts.
Wear Johnny Cash memorabilia.
Keep lots of change in your pockets.Peace in the mid west