Former cop-turned prosecutor-turned judge William H. Lyons said I owed “the state of New Hampshire” 248 FRNs. His claim is without merit. I did no harm to person or property. “The state” was not a victim that I was responsible to make whole. But I recognize that if I failed to act, I could be killed.
It wouldn’t happen right away, but if I ignored ever-more threatening letters sent by faceless strangers that I never wronged, their associates with guns would come for me. If I remained steadfast still, they’d use force, including lethal force. And most wouldn’t question their actions. After all, they wore badges. They’re “just doing their job.”
Looking over my shoulder doesn’t sound like a good way to live. So I’m forced to engage in damage control while remaining true to myself. Rather than pay the ransom, I decided I’d sit the time. Using “the state’s” math, 248 FRNs equated to four days and three nights at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections.
I wanted to share a bit about my jail experience to personalize what stemmed from an incident last June when I and seven others were arrested when trying to hold aggressors responsible. The natural reaction of the aggressors and their friends has been to target those of us who point-out the double-standards (Ademo is threatened with 21yrs).
I stand by my actions on June 4th. I am confident that I did nothing wrong. In fact I was doing something good – I was trying to hold people responsible for their rights-violating actions. Most anyone familiar with the situation will say the same.
I hope to help draw attention to the injustice inherent in the current monopoly-provided institution and force people to question their own actions. When man-made legislation conflicts with natural law one should be true to their conscience.
From Mark Shepard’s essay “Gandhi and His Myths,” included in the Strength Through Peace compilation:
Gandhi pointed out three possible responses to oppression and injustice. One he described as the coward’s way: to accept the wrong or run away from it. The second option was tro stand and fight by force of arms, Gandhi said this was better than acceptance or running away. But the third way, he said, was best of all, and required the most courage: to stand and fight solely by nonviolent means.
I was caged just after 9am on Friday until about 7:30am on Monday. Overall, it was pretty much what I expected it would be: never scary, just boring and uncomfortable (previously I’d been caged for half a week at Cheshire Co., a few hours in Denver, CO, a night in Greenfield, MA, and half a day in Jones Co., MS).
Since I declined the TB shot I was put under “quarantine,” which pretty much meant I wasn’t allowed to leave my cell. Still, I attempted dialogue with everyone I could. That netted conversations with three “correctional officers” (COs) and three others caged.
More than one CO asked me if I was a “Free Stater.” I replied that I had moved to the ‘shire to be around liberty-oriented people. One CO said that he supported a lot of what the Free Staters advocate then said “obviously I’m not as hardcore though since I work here.” We both laughed.
Other conversations had with COs happened during booking. Both began with an adversarial tone and morphed into more of a friendly banter. One CO, Beaudoin, said at one point “I hate the government” and “power to the people!” His colleague, L. Frender, said that he’d seen a YouTube video of my conversation with public officials from Nashua, NH and made some generally pro-liberty remarks.
After being fingerprinted, photographed, doing an inventory of my tattoos, and lifting “my package” I was handcuffed and led to a housing unit. It was essentially a circle cut in half, with the CO-staffed control desk at the hub, providing clear views of the two-levels of cages around the curved wall. Almost everything but the toilet paper was concrete or metal. My cage, #15, was on the extreme left of the lower level.
I was let out only twice: on Saturday evening to converse with Adam Mackler, a lawyer friend from Manchester, and on Sunday afternoon to take a shower. My “quarantine” status meant I gloves and a mask when outside my cage. Other than that, I attempted sleep, read two books, stretched, and brainstormed.
Through the narrow, wire-covered opening in my cell door I could see the COs doing paperwork and pushing buttons. I was struck by the seemingly business-as-usual attitude exhibited when caging fellow human beings, many of whom who were alleged to have engaged in actions that even if done, had no victim.
I counted just two statements made by others caged that could be construed as pro-liberty or at least questioning of the Statist Quo. One individual yelled “Heil Hitler” to mock the just-received string of orders a CO delivered to a group of new arrivals, and a second individual, when making clear that he felt his caging unjust, said that his “individual rights” were being violated, which was promptly ignored by the COs present.
Almost all of the COs I encountered shied away from open conversation. Friendly greetings were ignored. Perhaps they know it’d be harder to cage a person once they’re seen as a person? Or perhaps they know, deep down, that their actions don’t align with their stated values – life is easier if they can maintain the cognitive dissonance.
Hopefully one of the conversations I was able to have, or this post, or anything else from this whole Manchester Chalking 8 cause at least one person to both realize how skewed is the present system and act to proactively improve the world around them, first by deciding to live free, then by inspiring those around them to do the same.
Everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks about changing himself.
*A couple of lesser details might be off, such as the meal time when I had a specific food, but the below is accurate to the best of my knowledge
Friday – 8:30am
I realized I’d be late for my 9am “appointment” thanks to the pair of slow plow trucks on Rt. 9. I called the jail and updated them on my situation. No worries I was told – they’d expect me 20 or 30min late.
Friday – 9:10am
I went into the small entry, picked-up the phone and shared my reason for being there. I was told to “Get rid of the entourage” – friends from Keene and Manchester, and even a pair visiting from Cali, who had come to see me off. After exchanging hugs and goodbyes they left and the metal door buzzed unlocked.
I was led down a hallway with rooms on the left into a rectangular room dominated by a long counter on the right. Behind it were a handful of men and women wearing brown “Hillsborough County Department of Corrections” badges. Adjacent was a small office staffed by other “correctional officers” (COs) wearing white shirts and badges.
L. Frender (sp?) told me to stand “on the feet” – black silhouette outlines of shoes adhered to the floor in various places facing the counter. My Cop Block hat was taken then, due to other business, I was told to wait in the holding cell – a room maybe 10′ by 30′ visible from the counter due to its wall full of windows.
I joined three others. One gentleman, laying on a bench facing the door, complained that he’d been waiting for hours to be transported to the Phoenix House. The second individual, a younger kid sitting on a bench near the door, vocalized his displeasure that he was being brought yet again to court. Both had come to the attention of those in the criminal injustice system due to their selling of substances that some strangers deemed “illicit.” I tried to encourage them to think not in terms of “getting caught” but see that it was their captors in the wrong. That so long as their actions were consensual and didn’t initiate force, they weren’t in the wrong and thus should never have been harassed and caged.
The third man, who later told me he was 50 (a pretty fit 50 for sure), largely remained quiet as he paced the cell, at times stopping to do some reverse dips on a bench. He was caged because some folks with badges had showed-up when he and his significant other had a disagreement. Though neither he nor she thought either of their actions warranted anyone be caged, some strangers who call themselves “the state” thought otherwise.
Friday – 9:30am
L. Frender entered the holding cell. The kid closest to the door shared his displeasure at his treatment. Frender turned so he was facing the kid and asked in a not-too-friendly tone, “Do you want to take a swing at me?” The kid said that that wasn’t the case, but his displeasure was evident. The first gentleman asked when he was to be transported. Frender said “soon” as he beckoned me to join him to complete my processing. I indicated that I thought the first gentleman had a legitimate question and hoped he’d take a moment to provide a more informative response. A short conversation ensued then I got up and followed Frender out of the holding cell.
Immediately Frender turned to me and said that my failure to leave the booking cell when told was tantamount to disobeying an order from a CO, and warned that if such behavior continued I’d face repercussions. I reiterated my rationale for encouraging him to be more forthright with those caged. I pointed out that he obviously would prefer to work in a less-stressful environment, so why be so short and not straight-up? He said something to the effect of knowing and appreciating where I was coming from, but that the situation in the jail was different. I told him that I hoped one doesn’t check their values at the door simply due to their place of employment.
I moved on, and asked why his default when the younger kid solicited more information had essentially been to square-off in an aggressive manner. Again, the default was that I didn’t know what he had to deal with at the jail (a variation of the standard “I’m just doing my job”). He noted that he had previously had to clean up feces that the kid had decorated his cell with. I noted that such actions would probably not occur but for the criminal injustice system. If that kid hadn’t been caged for engaging in consensual interactions. And if people didn’t unthinkingly cage others.
I was asked if I’d cooperate with the rest of the processing. My intention, I noted, was to sit the time and move on. Eventually our convo was more congenial. Frender asked if I “was a Free Stater” (someone who moved to the ‘shire as part of the Free State Project). I told him I choose to live where I lived due to the active and supportive liberty-oriented community present.
We moved into a small side room where I was fingerprinted. Frender commented a couple times that my hands “were the hands of someone who does work with their hands.” His colleague Beaudoin, who had joined us shortly before, jokingly asked “do you want to give him a manicure next?” The mood was generally pretty congenial, all things considered.
I was told to stand on another set of black shoe outlines in front of a camera and my picture was taken and added to yet another database (and by now, other databases thanks to fusion centers). At one point Frender asked, “Didn’t I see you on a Nashua video?” – saying that he remembered the public official that I had called wasn’t as forthright as they should have been.
Beaudoin brought me into the adjacent room. My tattoos were inventoried. I was asked what the “V” on my right calf stood for. I said it was for voluntaryism – essentially that I support anything that’s consensual. Beaudoin paused in thought and a couple of seconds later said, “I can support that.”
I removed my hoodie, kicked off my shoes, and stripped off off my pants, socks, and underwear. I was told to open my mouth and lift my tongue. Then to “lift your package.” Nope, not trying to bring any “contraband” in with me…
The thermal undershirt that I was first handed was replaced with another after both of my arms went through holes in the shirts sleeves. On top of that went an orange shirt and pants emblazoned with “Hillsborough County” in black, some medium-thick socks and a pair of orange shoes that looked like low-top Converses with elastic instead of laces.
Before the end of the process Beaudoin asked me if I was a Free Stater. I gave the same response I’d given Frender. He said he was familiar with Cop Block. I tried to point out the perverse incentives inherent in an institution based on violence. At one point he said “fuck the government!” One of his last statements to me was “Power to the people!”
A third correctional officer put my recently-printed photo ID in my breast pocket (my lone pocket), handcuffed by wrists behind my back, and led me – his right hand holding my left upper-arm – down a couple hardened hallways to an elevator that wisked us up one level where, after entering through a pair of locked doors, he handed my ID to a colleague, removed my handcuffs, and left.
The unit was essentially a circle cut in half, with the control desk in the middle hub to give its operators a clear view of all activities in the area. The room had a high ceiling with two levels of cells, accessed by metal staircases on either end. To the right of the control desk were showers. Privacy came from an ankle to upper-chest-high wall. Bolted to the concrete floor between the control desk and the cells were tables with affixed chairs. The common area. A plastic bookshelf was mounted to the wall 20′ in front of the control desk near a solitary shower with a shower curtain.
I was handed a guide about the rules of the facility, three sheets of lined paper and three envelopes, two sheets, a light/medium blanket, pillowcase (though I never had a pillow), a small tube of Freshmint (from India), a plastic toothbrush the size of my index finger and a roll of toilet paper. Then I was led to my cell, #15 on the extreme left of the lower level.
Friday – 10:00am
A man with a badge on his chest pushed a button and a couple dozen individuals in matching attire exited their cages. Seated at the tables were a facility nurse and a couple of people (who didn’t look too happy) who met with one-on-one with those caged to converse about their adventures in legal land.
I approached the bookshelf. It contained 20 books – about half were christian in nature and half were fat fictional paperbacks. Acting on a suggestion from Ademo, I grabbed not one book, but two books. The two least-worst-looking books from my browsing seemed to be The Slaves Champion by Harry Wheeler and Nemesis by Bill Napier. I chose the former to learn a bit more about the abolition movement in the UK and the latter because the plot seemed more palatable than its competition and because a friend in Keene has a car with the same name.
I approached the control desk, waited for the CO to look up from his paperwork, and asked if I could borrow a writing utensil. A few minutes later he gave me a pencil and said I could only use it during time allowed outside of the cell.
I stood against a pillar and people watched. When the TV flicked to life many others dressed in orange sat down and, like moths to a lightbulb, remained transfixed by a movie.
I decided to write, since I knew that I may not have the opportunity to do so later. I jotted down notes and quotes from my jail experience thus far. I read and took notes on the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections Inmate Handbook ACA Ref #4-ALDF-2A-27 I had been given. The booklet included a threat inside the cover – if it was returned torn or abused I would face repressions. The introduction stated continued the “or else” theme already established:
All that is required of you is that your behavior conforms to the established rules and regulations and that you respect both facility personnel, as well as, all other inmates.
My first thought – why differentiate between “facility personnel” and “inmates”? Why not just say “others”? Oh yeah that’s right, because those with badges believe they have extra rights.
While aggressing against “facility personnel” and “inmates” were both couched under the “Serious crimes” category, significant repercussions didn’t happen until the third instance when the receiver of the assault was an “inmate.” It happened after the first when the person was considered “facility personnel.” Double-standards, after all!
In the “Orientation” section, which gave an overview of the verbal instruction COs give to those newly caged, the lack of two-way communication was underscored with “. . . is an informal session and not an open forum for debate or dispute regarding policy issues, rules and regulations.” Meanwhile, the “Sexual Abuse/Assault” section claimed that “Inmates are not subjected to personal abuse or harassment.” Right.
Friday – 10:30am
A metal industrial cart with stacks of plastic molded trays was rolled in. I grabbed a tray and a cup of “juice” (flavored water?) and was told to eat in#15. In the spaces on the tray was chili, carrots, an apple, wedge of bread, and scoop of rice. The chili actually was alright. I also ate the fruit and veggies and put some butter on the bread, as I know it helps with the uptake of certain vitamins and minerals.
I heard a female call my name.
I sat down in front of the nurse and said hello. She asked about the length of my stay. She handed me a sheet that informed me of my “right” to have certain medical and dental services while housed at the facility, and asked me to return the form with my signature. I told her I was going to read it over and she sat back and gave me a minute.
I couldn’t, in good conscience sign the document since I didn’t want to give my word that I’d obey the text since I planned to decline the TB shot. “Why?” she asked. Because I believe in self-ownership. I don’t think a stranger has the right to put a substance into my body. She told me if I declined I’d be quarantined for the safety of the facility. That I would get out for only an hour a day. I expanded on my statement and she paused for a second, seemed appeased, and said to the CO nearby that I “declined the shot” – the CO acted on that information by taking a step toward me and aggressively inquiring why that was. Immediately the nurse corrected him and said I wasn’t being difficult. The CO changed his demeanor and walked me the 50′ or 60′ back to cell #15. He reminded me that my decision meant I’d be quarantined. He said I’d get out for only an hour. At 3am. Twenty minutes later a female CO opened my cell door and reiterated the same. Shortly after a page was taped to my cell door that said “Quarantined.”
Friday – 11:00pm
I decided to start with the fictional book and was already a couple of chapters in. I laid on the top bunk. The thin plastic-covered mattress was almost non-existent. My back wasn’t too happy on the metal so position changes and stretching were frequent.
Friday – 5:00pm
Dinner was delivered in a foam take-home container under the 4″ gap under the door. The clearance was just enough to also allow foam cups with “juice” to remain upright.
I had became more-familiar with statements left by former tenants in pen or the scraping of metal. The cell itself was a weird shape – six walls but roughly a rectangle about 10′ by 6′. The cinder block walls were painted light blue and the bed frames and desk were purplish. The thick metal door, which had a heavy wire see-through area, was door green, surrounded by dark blue trim. I wondered how much research had been put into determining the colors in the facility to try to achieve the desired results – obedience and complacency.
Friday – evening (?)
Everyone else was out of their cages in the common area. One CO demanded their attention and proceeded to shout instructions in a continuous monotone. Echos reigned. I’d definitely prefer to be listening to a favorite album.
Saturday – 5:00am
I awoke. It was still dark outside but the lights inside were on. At first I thought there was an “emergency” that necessitated a response from the COs. Then I realized that things just started early.
Saturday – 5:30am
Breakfast was brought. Cinnamon oatmeal (with apple slices), wedge of bread, apple, milk. The tray with back with the bread. I down canisters of quick oats pretty this actually wasn’t too far off my norm. The only thing I’d probably add would be a scoop of whey or a couple of eggs (microwaved on-top of the oatmeal then mixed-in).
Saturday – 10:30am
Lunch: scoop of rice, bread, apple, carrots; (imitation?) tuna. I ate all but the non-fruit/veggie carbs.
I overhead one of the COs saying that the same kitchen shift does breakfast and lunch, hence their incentive to churn out both in a somewhat narrow time range.
Saturday – 5:00pm
Dinner: soup (elbow pasta and green beans), two slices of white bread, a condiment-sized plastic cup with peanut butter and another with jelly, apple, chocolate cupcake (?), milk. Two cups of juice. I fished the beans out of the soup, ate the apple with some of the peanut butter, and put the rest and the jelly on one slice of bread.
Saturday – 7:00pm
I was asked if I wanted to see my lawyer. “My lawer?” I asked. “Your lawyer.” Sure. I was given a pair of latex gloves and a mask to wear. The CO already had on the same. I exited my cage and was told to put my hands on the wall. I was handcuffed and led past the control desk, out one door and in another on the right into a room that was barren but for a table, affixed chairs, and my friend Adam Mackler.
My handcuffs were removed. The CO left us and Adam and I caught him up on what was going on. The wall behind me shared with the housing unit was dominated by lots of heavy glass to allow our activities to be visually monitored by the COs. He noted that he’d just seen Wes Gilreath – a mutual friend that recently was told he’d be caged for a year (with six months “stayed.” His statement at the time? “Do you think that will make me become more pro-government?!”).
Saturday – 9:00pm
I finished Nemesis. It was alright but I kinda guessed the plot twist early on. Still, it helped pass the time. And it’s always interesting to infer how others think by how they tell stories.
Saturday – 11:00pm
Sunday – 5:30am
Every time I heard a CO approaching I’d wave or give a nod or say hi – just generally friendly disposition. This morning, after saying “Morning” and “Thank you” when breakfast was brought the CO stopped for a moment and had a conversation.
He asked how long I was in for. I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind getting out sometime to take a shower. It wasn’t long before he posed the “Are you a Free Stater?” question. He said that he supported a lot of what the Free Staters are doing but pointed out, “obviously I’m not as hardcore though since I work here.” I agreed and we both laughed. He said he’d be back to talk more but never returned.
Sunday – 10:30am
Lunch: chop suey, carrots, jello and same beverages.
Sunday – 4:00pm
While approaching my door a CO who looked like he just stepped out of a Marine ad barked “Don’t be fucking taking off your mask!” It was a condition of being able to leave the cell to take a shower. No worries. I was told to use the shower in the middle of the room. While walking there someone yelled from their cell door “Operation!” I thought it was funny. I was given two small paper cups with soap. I took a quick shower. The empty paper cups were put into a medical/hazardous red plastic trash bag. I was “quarantined” after all. [I think the reason why the COs seemed to have encouraged me to get the TB shot was simply to streamline their operations.]
Sunday – 5:00pm
Dinner: beans, two hot dogs, jello (red), wedge of bread, cooked carrots. I ate all but the bread.
Sunday – 5:00pm
A 20″ x 6″ rectangular window (with a stout horizontal bar across the middle) faced to the southwest. Visible was a Napa across the street, a couple hundreds feet of busy Elm Street (Manchester’s main north-south road through downtown) and beyond that, the river and West Manchester. I stood, with my right foot on the lower bunk and my left hand on the wall at my 9-o-clock, to watch the sun set. It was orangish pink.
Sunday – 8:00pm
The two wall-mounted phones used by others housed in the unit when in the common areas were less than 10′ from my cell door. Since Friday I’d inadvertently heard snippets of conversation due to the close proximity. The present conversation caused me to recognize at once the overlapping characteristics: swearing, apologies, requests, statements of “I fucked up.” It caused me to think about why that was.
Why were many of those caged ok that they were caged. Not that they’d choose to be there. But that they “admit” that they “got caught.” But again, in most cases there is no victim. Yet they’ve allowed themselves to buy-into the statist rhetoric they’ve been peddled. And for those actors who did cause harm, would that have happened by for the massive distortions caused by the believe in arbitrary authority? Probably not.
Also, how can so many who systematically harm others (I’m not talking about your common criminals but those, who based on their place of employment, believe they have the “right” to do things they wouldn’t dare do when not on the clock) believe their actions just?
Sunday – 10:00pm
I finished The Slaves Champion. I had hoped to have a more informative look at tactics used by the UK abolitionists but instead found the book allocated the bulk of its time to harping about how great a man was William Wilberforce. By all accounts its sounds like that was the case, but what exactly made it true? What specific lessons can be learned from his actions and applied to today?
But an even bigger failure on behalf of the author was to take his views to their conclusion. If it’s agreed-upon that man can’t make another man his property, then why focus attention on the end of the slave-trade, brought about through many decades of politicking? Why not see that it was the very system itself that allowed for and “legitimized” slavery? Why not advocate just as tenaciously for the abolition of that institution based on violence?
Monday – 5:00am
I woke up and laid listening to sounds from the COs and others in the common area.
Monday – 5:30am
I lay on my bunk, wondering what time I’d get out. Hoping it’d be earlier so I could get back to being productive.
Monday – 7:15am
I heard my name mentioned. I was told I had a few minutes to get my things together. Everything was already folded, together and ready to go.
Monday – 7:20am
I was masked, handcuffed, led back to booking, and got back into my own clothes. Out I walked.
The cold and my lack of a jacket couldn’t deter the fact that it was nice to have my freedom of movement. I passed an idling Manchester PD squad. I asked the individual behind the wheel if he could tell John Patti – the man who ordered me and two colleagues arrested on June 4th – that “Pete just did four days at Valley St. – he’d know what it’s about.” Who knows? Maybe, after seven months of being reminded that his actions did harm people, Patti will think about being another cog in the machine.
After a short walk I reunited with friends, made it back to Keene, and continued doing what I do. Lyons and his colleagues had my person immobilized for four days but try how they might, they can’t cage an idea.
The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable. . . ”
-H. L. Mencken