Note from Bigeye's Webmaster:
I grew up on a farm in Hudson, Ohio, only a few miles from Kent, Ohio, where I attended my first year of college at Kent State University. After transferring to Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, I worked a number of part-time jobs, one of which, at Cole's Pharmacy in Beechwold (Columbus) involved giving Mr. James Rhodes (then State Auditor) his Sunday paper and chatting with him at the soda fountain. He was a cigar-chomping, marginally verbal semi-rural political type common in those days.
More than a decade later, as Ohio Governor, Jim Rhodes called out the Ohio National Guard at Kent that murdered students because they were in the proximity of protesters. President Richard Nixon had decided to invade Cambodia during the days of America's repugnant war against the Vietnam peasantry who attempted to defend their land and families against what they perceived to be invading Westerners. I recall my disgust, at the time, when most Americans applauded the deaths of these young people at Kent State, saying that they "had it coming to them". Such sentiment seemed to be an open road to military dictatorship. However, one president had been forced from office and Nixon was ultimately obliged to end the Vietnam tragedy.
Now, a generation later, the lovely college city of Kent, Ohio, is witnessing protests sparked by yet another president's decision to invade another country, Iraq. Once again, public police powers are being used to quell dissent. Americans of all political persuasions should be ashamed of themselves. Are the masses in this country now fully ready for our government to become a military dictatorship? This great country was founded in dissent. Have we completely forgotten our roots? See the email address at the bottom of this page.
-----Original Message----- From: Dan Bell [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 5:29 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: My first arrest
I want to share with you a letter I sent to friends and family regarding my experience last Sunday. Feel free to share it with anyone you choose. I will also forward a letter to you which proposes a letter writing campaign to the City of Kent. As for the photo, I'm the one in the orange flowery shirt.
Sunday, I was arrested for the first time in my life.
Kent State and the City of Kent had cancelled a previously issued permit for a peace demonstration and march. I felt this was an unfair suppression of the constitutional right to express dissent against the militarization of our country, which has been growing since 9/11/01. I felt it was important not to let such a precedent stand and so I went to the rally to support those who had organized it.
The rally began at 3pm. There were a series of speeches until about 5. There were about 6 KSU police observing and filming us from about 50 yards away. There was also a police helicopter circling the entire time.
Then the group marched from the field to the location where the 4 KSU students were killed by the national guard on May 4, 1970. The group stopped at each of the four spots where a student had died, and someone read a poem. The KSU police walked parallel to the march and continued to film.
Next the group marched from this spot down a road that cuts across campus and arrived at the northern border of campus. There we found that the entire 4 lane highway was empty because police cruisers had blocked off all access in each direction beyond where the highway becomes the northern border of the campus. All we could see in either direction in the distance were lines of police in riot gear. I would estimate about 50 to 100 police for our crowd of about 400 to 600 demonstrators. The group marched down the highway towards downtown. While I did not hear what the police were saying, others indicated that the group should get off the street and up on the sidewalk. The police then came and formed a line along the street at the curb. The police then grabbed a couple of demonstrators out of the crowd and forced them to the ground and arrested them. We shouted, "Shame on you!".
Then people in the crowd said we were supposed to get off the sidewalk, so the crowd moved back on the grass, wedged between the sidewalk and some hedges. At this point, Daniela and I were in the front line of crowd. Not satisfied that the crowd was off the street and the sidewalk, the riot police joined their shields together and marched towards us, starting from about 20 to 30 feet away. Daniela and I were wedged between their marching line of shields and the crowd behind us. I simply let my body be carried between these two forces backward until some police grabbed my arms, pulled me through the line of shields, forced me to the ground and handcuffed me with my arms behind my back. They then raised me to my feet and took me to a shuttle bus. After a short wait on the bus, they drove me and about six others to the Kent police station.
There, they transferred us, one by one, to a larger bus, which served as a temporary detainee center until they could move us into the jail. One woman on my shuttle was moved to the bus before me. I observed as they tried to make her sit down in a seat. She stood up and they made her sit down again. She stood up again. Then they pushed her violently into the seat and her head hit the bus window so hard that it swung out and a large spider web crack filled it. She was charged with felonious vandalism for allowing her head to break the bus window while the police were pushing her into it!
Once I was on the big bus, I realized that I could no longer feel my fingers. I informed one of the officers who told me they would deal with that later and left. Then a couple minutes later, a different officer came on and I informed her. She checked my hand and saw that I was not kidding. She removed me from the bus and bumped me up in line for going into the station where they could cut off the plastic restraints and put me in a holding cell with other detainees. By this time it was about 6:30. Eventually we had about 14 people in the cell including two people who were there for unrelated events. At 7:30, they took me out and filled out a few forms and led me to believe that I would be able to post bail and be out by around 8pm. They allowed me to call Pachy and I told her that was what I expected. For the next two hours, I remained in the holding cell. About half of the group were released one by one as people from the outside posted their bail. Then one of the others asked if he could post his own bail. They came back a few minutes later and took him to do this. So I asked them to let me do the same. They came back a few minutes later and said they were not processing any more bonds. They were transferring us to the County Jail and we could post bail there. I used the collect call phone in the cell to call Pachy to let her know what was going on. When they heard me explaining that we were being transferred, the cut off the phonecall. Later, I heard one cop telling another that they didn't want people on the outside knowing that they were transferring us.
They put handcuffs back on my wrists behind my back and moved me to the transfer vehicle with the others. These were metal and almost as tight as the earlier ones. There was no particular reason they could not have put them on less tightly and allowed me to have my arms in front. They simply wanted to send a message of intimidation to the detainees. By around 11:30, we were at the County Jail where we were searched again and placed in holding cells to await booking. At no time, did they provide me with food or drink during the 8 hours I was detained.
When I had arrived at the County Jail, I told the officials there again that I wanted to post my own bail. Pachy, in the meantime, had called back after our phone call had been interrupted, and the Kent police lied to her telling her that I didn't want to post bail and didn't have the money. Pachy had just heard me say on the phone that I wanted to post bail, but they refused to let me do it. The police also documented my possessions, including two valid credit cards and $342 in cash. Bail was only $100!
The remaining members of the detainees were called out one by one and were being bailed out by a collection taken up by other demonstrators. At 1AM, they finally brought me out and let me fill out the forms to post bail. They also allowed me at that point to answer a phone call from Phillip, who had been calling every hour on the hour. I told him not to drive out to pick me up, because I could catch a ride to Kent with the others.
We were finally released at 1:30 AM.
One of my fellow retainees, a peace and justice coordinator for the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Cleveland, decided to stay at our house rather than driving all the way back to Cleveland. Pachy and the kids were waiting up and had dinner for us.
In the morning, I had an arraignment at 8:15 AM. A lawyer friend of ours who is active in the Catholic Diocese peace and justice activities accompanied me and we pled not guilty. There will be a pretrial meeting between him and the prosecutor where he says there is some hope that the charges will simply be dropped. Disorderly conduct has a lot of technical aspects, which are hard to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. While the police had the chance to send their message, it may be possible that the prosecutor does not want to be tied up with trying to make these cases for the 12 detainees. If this does not go to trial, the legal fees will probably be between $500 and $1000. Going to trial would up the ante quite a bit. The group of detainees will most likely be represented by a committee of lawyers, and some fundraising for our mutual defense will go on.
All in all, it was an interesting experience. Hopefully, a few more consciences around the country were peaked and the trend toward dismantling civil rights in the US was slowed a tiny bit. The cost to me personally was the loss of 8 hours of freedom on a Sunday,
the loss of feeling in the top part of my right hand (which hopefully is just some temporary nerve irritation and not permanent damage) from the excessively tight handcuffs, and what ever the legal fees end up being.
When I was being arrested, a tv cameraman began filming me and asked why I was being arrested. Later, I wish I would have had the presence of mind to say, "The real question for your viewers is, 'why aren't they here today being arrested with me!" Unfortunately, since I didn't plan to get arrested, I had not prepared myself to say anything eloquent. I simply mumbled something about the efforts to suppress my dissent against Bush's increasing militarization of our country.
Dan Bell International Program Coordinator Ohio Employee Ownership Center Kent State University Kent, OH 44242 (330) 672-0333 Direct number! (330) 672-3028 general office number (330) 672-4063 fax email@example.com http://www.kent.edu/oeoc/ http://cog.kent.edu
There is a Kent City Council meeting at which City Councilman Bill Shultz is going to
raise the issue of excessive use of police force at 7:30 PM, Wednesday, May 7.
If you would like to express your opinion about the events, which occurred last Sunday,
you can send your letter to:
Mayor of Kent and Members of Kent City Council
Please send a bcc: to firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can keep track of the response. I will
be attending the meeting and I would like to be able to know if they undercount the
number of messages received.