I did some audaciously brave and crazy shit back in the period between 1969 and 1972 during the period when I was pre-op.
I was arrested during one of the People’s Park events for disorderly conduct. I had to go to trila rather than plead and accept the 10 days in jail that most other demonstrators were taking because I was on hormones and was so in-between at that point the police treated me as neither male nor female.
Fortunately I was acquitted.
It should be very obvious where my sympathies are regarding the 99% and various Occupy demonstrations.
I’m an openly left wing anarchist. I support the demonstrators. I think that it is a noble thing for people to stand up and put their bodies against the wheels of the machine when the operation of the machine has become so odious as to call out for resistance to the machine.
But I also consider it unconscionable to urge pre-op and transgender folks to endanger themselves by getting arrested without alerting them to the possibility that they will suffer special abuse at the hands of the police.
The good news about demonstration arrests. You usually are not alone. Often times there will be hundreds of you. Often times you will never actual make it much further than the processing holding cell. At that point, after being photographed, finger printed and checked for outstanding warrants you will be permitted to make bail.
You may be taken before a judge. That is your arraignment. There they will read the charges against you and ask how you plead, in many cases you will have been offered a small fine in exchange for a guilty plea. Depending on the conditions you might consider taking it, particularly if you are from out of town, as the alternative may well require you to make court appearances on a regular basis for as long as a year. If you choose to not plead guilty and go to trial, you face the risk of losing.
In the halls of justice all the justice is in the halls. If you face trial it will not matter that you are on the side of the angels and the police are lying scum. Also the liberal judge is somewhat of a myth. Actually you will go through the same court machinery that has filled the prisons of America with people of color and has a ling history of harshly punishing dissidents.
You will not be offered as good a deal as you were when you were arraigned with all your fellow demonstrators. If you go to trial and lose, you will in all likelihood be sentenced to jail time.
Things are much trickier if you are transgender or pre-op. From the case that caused me to write this post pre-op specifically means genital SRS, not top surgery plus hormones for the guys.
The cops are rarely nice or respectful to transsexual and transgender people. They are especially mean to and treat people whose genitals do not match their gender of presentation in a degrading and abusive manner.
I never believed I should let being transsexual and pre-op stop me from standing up for what I believed in…
So I went to demonstrations. Including as part of an action faction/black bloc.
You have to gauge for yourself the level of risk you are willing to take.
Have proper identification. Write contact numbers on your arm with indelible magic marker because if you are arrested the police will take your phone and all other property while you are in custody.
Do not carry any weapons. A demonstration is a demonstration, not a revolution.
Know the people close to you and watch out for each other, share names. You may be called upon later to be a witness.
Don’t let the police box you in. Never strike a police officer, remember you are part of a demonstration not a revolution.
Be careful of people who want to lead you to more violent actions or who advocate using weapons such as bombs or Molotov cocktails on the police. Automatically assume people advocating such action are police until proven innocent.
Do not talk of the actions of others. Never volunteer information regarding the actions of those who might be taking actions outside the realm of demonstration related activities. Particularly if those actions are illegal.
Keep such knowledge to yourself. Talking about such knowledge implies involvement, which could in turn lead to your being prosecuted.
By all means go…
These demonstrations are about issues that affect all of us.
Just be careful. Avoid arrest if you are in a vulnerable place in your life. Keep moving, avoid illegal actions and don’t antagonize the cops. Don’t get boxed in and stay on the sidewalks.
From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/10/04/335270/transgender-protester-police-mistreatment/
By Zack Ford on Oct 4, 2011 at 10:45 am
Justin Adkins found out the hard way that the New York Police Department does not have a protocol for how to treat transgender people when they are arrested. Adkins, who serves as assistant director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College in Massachusetts, was participating in an Occupy Wall Street protest this weekend on the Brooklyn Bridge. When he was arrested, he informed one of the protest’s legal observers that he was transgender, and that is when the disrespect began. In a detailed statement, Justin describes his alleged mistreatment, including being handcuffed to a handrail next to a toilet for eight hours, being denied food when others received it, and being humiliated by police officers:
Throughout the night it became clear that they wanted my fellow protestors to think that I did something criminally wrong. That I had done something different from them. That I was not just a peaceful protestor exercising my rights on that bridge. That I deserved to be handcuffed to a railing in the side of the precinct with violent criminals. Everyone seemed to wonder why I had been separated. When other officers chatted amongst themselves about why I was separated, one officer suspected aloud that I was a “ringleader.” The woman officer stood a few times outside the glass wall with the door open as male officers asked about me. It appeared that she told them that I was transgender as they gawked, giggled, and stared at me. This was embarrassing and humiliating. Only I have the right to out myself as a transgender person. She was using my identity to get a laugh with men who she thought would find me curious and freakish. It felt at these times that I was behind the glass of a freakshow where people could come look at the funny transgender guy. I decided that when they looked at me giggling I would just catch them off guard and wave. It at least made the time go by.
If there were any question that the NYPD has been treating protesters inappropriately, this is certainly an important case study to consider. Please read Justin’s full statement to appreciate how the experience of being transgender can compromise the respect a person receives.
Watch video of the 70 arrests that took place on the Brooklyn Bridge (Justin’s arrest can be seen at around the 10:30 mark):