do not be afraid

12/05/2011

for editorial clarity, not in jail anymore, just processing the experience.

we are in jail. it is the first time i have been arrested, though i have been in custody before. one of the other people who was arrested with me is crying, it is their first time here though i doubt it will be their last. they seem young and hard to grind down, almost fearless despite how anxious they are now. they and one of the other occupiers keep making these foolish hopeful condescending pronouncements that make me want to hide under the table with embarrassment (“you know, you could like, get out of jail and become an activist and stuff!”), but the other inmates are still kind to us, kind to eachother. i had been told that despite popular myth that mutual aid is a very real thing in jail, and this situation only confirms it. the other inmates tell us, “you will totally get out tonite, it is going to be okay,” and __ stops crying.

i have not given up hope, but i have resigned myself to spending the weekend in jail because it’s better to be ready to stay than to have your hopes crushed when you are expecting to be released. one of the inmates who has spent the last month or two shuttled between jail, prison and more jails tells us about advocating for another inmate who had a serious illness. “[several inmates] called our parents, who called other people and who started hounding the [institution] to start getting this person the care they needed when their condition got really serious. it worked.”

at some point i murmur (sure no one hears me) “sometimes just continuing to exist is an act of resistance.” i look at the people around me and know this is true as they relate the various circumstances that have led to their incarceration, their self-recriminations about drug use and coping with mental health diagnoses. they don’t ever mention racism, sexism or other inequities that have been present in their lives from day one, tho the occupiers prattle on about these subjects like they have just discovered them, just discovered how unjust the prison-industrial complex and the world at large. they preach and rail hysterically about the dehumanizing nature of prisons without seeming to grok that they are surrounded by people who yes, have been treated like cattle, but who are nonetheless choosing humanity, choosing to aid one another.

Do not be afraid
(You cannot be afraid)
Your arms are wrapped around
(Do not be afraid / There’s nothing to do)
And the claps your hands resound
(Do not be afraid / Do you feel really afraid?)
Your feet they map the ground
(Do not be afraid / It’s not being afraid)
You’ll have night visions
(Do not be afraid / Of not being afraid)
Your window when it’s jostled
(Do not be afraid / Do not be afraid)
We’ll spend time
(Do not be afraid / To go / Around friends)
Over and over
(Do not be afraid)
We’ll spend time in the mountains

-Mount Eerie, “do not be afraid”

“knowing that it will all be taken away and refusing to let that keep us still.”

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