It ain’t easy being Indian… (May 2015)

By Ricey Wild
News From Indian Country

…My bad. Or am I?
Whilst ‘Under the Clock’ which is a euphemism for being in city jail I experienced some of the greatest terror and trauma up till then in my life. My repeated queries as to why I was being detained were only answered with ‘probable cause’. Being the law-abiding citizen that I am I didn’t know what that meant. Now I know it means that any and all law enforcement can pick you up for no other reason than they feel like it.
Just be-cause. Because there was a lull in arrests and the officer was getting bored and didn’t like the look of you; because someone did something somewhere and the vague description is most likely you especially if you walk around being brown, black and not-white. Because of false accusations that are probably a cause so you get taken downtown cuffed up in a cop car in a state of utter panic and disbelief. Because I found myself wearing big white underpants in orange scrubs and some type of plastic sandals on my feet carrying a small toothbrush and paste, a thin mattress and blanket and later at some point I got a nubby pencil with no eraser.
Later I found out I was placed in the less-violent cell block so my new companions were prostitutes, junkies, and women who committed misdemeanors (I guess). I shared a cell with the trusty; I had the top bunk and tried to sleep with the light that never shut off. No sleep was to be had anyway as I had no actual contact with guards at all in order to question them. There was only a slot just big enough to slide food trays through and that, except for a static voice that gave orders or reprimands on the intercom was the only contact to be had with the outer world. The large windows were frosted over too.
It was Saturday afternoon when I got there and time as I knew it became very, very different. Really different from what my plans had been for sure! I had been napping because I was out the night before and later I was gonna shop at the Super Ghetto-Mart for necessities. Then I answered the door wide open to the cops and I even had a chain-lock! Over and over in my head ran the same reel: I know very well I didn’t do anything that could probably cause my stay in jail; I had not been read my rights; no one knew I was there; WHY was I there? WHY DID I OPEN THE DOOR???!!!
I was overcome with anxiety and panic. While sitting on the hard, cold floor I wanted to start banging my head on the cement walls just for a reason for my agony and one thing stopped me, the vision and comforting love of my Grampa who had passed on and was one of my rocks. Paw was laid-back but had a keen, dry wit, he was a center of calm in an insane world so I channeled him, began to breathe again before the next round of unanswered questions began again.
Of course I blundered through jail protocol. The guards come and count you in the mornings and during the day. I was bathing when there was an inspection and had to slide through toward my cell door and mate in wet, soapy, soggy underpants. The guards would revoke privileges if we inmates were not in order and if anyone was the cause of such loss? Well I don’t actually know but how can you shun or shame anyone who is being subjugated with loss of freedom? I was humiliated each and every time this occurred but had no recourse to stop it.
One time during a meal I was asked what did I do? I replied that I am a writer and the woman looked puzzled for a moment then said, “Oh! You forge checks and things!” I was aghast and said no not like that! LOL I was replying to a normal question as if I was at a ladies luncheon! And I was struck by the fact that I could not possibly be innocent of anything if I was in that place now could I? Ennit?
Come Monday morning names were being called and then mine was…finally. I met a sheriff and he asked me what had happened? I cried telling him the story and he sighed then said, “If I had been here none of this would have happened”. Hearing that I completely broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. The officer gave me a ride home and asked me how I had been treated in jail? Furious I said well I didn’t get beat up if that’s what you mean but I’m gonna sue for false arrest!
My mother had a friend of hers who worked in the courts try and get the arrest records. He said well she hasn’t been charged with anything and in further research there were no arrest records at all, no proof whatsoever of my being detained so de facto it never happened!!! Well played crooked cops, well played.

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