By: Lindsey Wainwright

Superchief Contributer

Photo credit to Occupy Hartford media

 

DEAR SUPERCHIEF,

I was arrested on April 20th, 2012 following an Occupy Hartford street theater action called “Clean the Banks.” We dressed up and brought cleaning supplies to Bank of America and Wells Fargo at State House Plaza, handing out pamphlets along the way. The goal was to spread awareness about these banks’ corruption, greed and bailout participation. We were asked by security to leave each bank, and so we did.

The arrest took place Main Street in Downtown Hartford, CT. We were about 3 blocks away from the site of the action. At the time we had finished and were walking back to our meeting point before dispersing. At the time of my arrest, I was dressed as a French maid. I was holding a digital camera in one hand and a feather duster in the other. I was the only person filming when the police approached us. I was also the only person arrested

As I was arrested, the police officer did not specify what I was being charged with. After I was arrested, I waited alone in the car for about 15 minutes. Then the officers opened the car door to ask me if I was wearing underwear. Apparently one of the security guards from the bank had been screaming about being able to see my vagina, which would have been odd, as I was wearing full tights and boy shorts. The police then asked me an array of other questions, which I refused to answer, about Occupy Hartford and about the action itself.

On the way to the station, my arresting officer pulled over and asked me for my personal information so that he could fill out my arrest form. He then told me that I would be released with a PTA (promise to appear). Once we got to the station, however, the desk sergeant decided that I should be held on $5000 bail. At this point, I was finally told what I had been charged with: disorderly conduct and (retroactive) trespassing. I was also told that the bail commissioner would be stopping by around 5 or 6 if I wanted to discuss overturning the bail. I used a phone call to talk to my Occupy Hartford friends, and we decided to wait until 6 to see if I could talk to the bail commissioner. Otherwise they would bail me out.

I waited in a cell at Jennings Road for about 5 hours. I had a cellmate for the first hour, a really cool Puerto Rican chick who had been taken in on what seemed like a bogus domestic violence charge (she had been defending herself against her 16 year-old brother, a 6’2” kid, and had been arrested for assaulting a minor). We spent a good amount of time joking about the “hardened criminals” the “courageous” Hartford police were arresting today. Her whole family, including her little boy, eventually came to bail her out; we could hear them partying in the waiting room.

After that I was moved to a cell with a toilet so I could use the bathroom if I wanted. However, there was a surveillance camera pointed directly at the toilet, so I held it. I tried to sleep in the cell, but I couldn’t. Eventually I decided to occupy my time by loudly singing whatever songs I could remember: mostly old jazz tunes, Irish prison songs and French ballads.

Around 6:30 pm the bail commissioner still hadn’t shown up. The police came to my cell and escorted me through the station. They sat me down next to a woman who was on serious drugs and put ankle shackles and handcuffs on both of us. Then they loaded us into the paddy wagon and transported us to holding on Lafayette Street. A word of advice – if you ever have to climb into a paddy wagon in ankle shackles, try NOT to be wearing stilettos.

In holding they left the shackles on us. They gave us food with absolutely no nutritional value, nasty bologna sandwiches on white bread and boxes of “orange drink.” I offered mine to my cellmate. She ate everything ravenously. She was trembling all over. Soon after, they took her to the hospital, and I was alone again. I rested and sang some more. Then, around 9:30 pm, I was put back in the paddy wagon and driven back to Jennings Road, where I was released. Around 10:15 pm, still in my french maid costume, I walked out of the police station. A bail bondsman was waiting out front to drive me back to my Occupy Hartford friends, who had posted bail. Thus ended my 9 hours in jail for recording in public.

Last week I went to community court and refused to take community service on the basis that I am not guilty of either of these charges. My case is being sent to trial by jury. The pretrial will take place on May 22nd at 9 am at 80 Washington Street in Hartford, CT. Witnesses who were involved in the action will be called to testify on my behalf. Their presence is especially important considering that my arresting officer lied in his report, claiming that I resisted arrest.

After the officer forcefully grabbed my camera from my hands, he left it on in his pocket as he arrested me. So here is a video of the events leading up to my arrest. This is what a police state looks like:

I maintain that I was wrongfully arrested. Nobody should be arrested for filming in public.

Resources:

The Right to Record
Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful Arrest
7 Rules for Recording Police
Occupy Hartford: Clean the Banks!

Que la lutte continue avec rage et joie!

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