November 17 was a busy day for the 99%. By 5:00AM Friday November 18 things had quieted down for most of us but not for the driver of the livery cab taking Bev and me home from the Queens Central Booking Unit in Kew Gardens. How did we get there? Via a very short demonstration and a rather long bus ride.
Around 6:00PM Thursday evening three members of the Granny Peace Brigade, Bev, Pat D and I, joined about 60 other demonstrators and a bunch of cops in a ballet near the Brooklyn Bridge. We had our costumes and our moves worked out well in advance. The demonstrators sat; the cops stood; one had a bullhorn. That cop told us to move. We chanted so loud we couldn’t hear him but we knew what he said. We didn’t move and at the speed of light the officers asked us to stand and cuffed us. That was the end of the fast part.
The rest of the night was larghissimo all the way. Assigning us to officers took time, loading the buses took time (Thanks Buddy for being on the street waving!), the driver’s standup routine took time (he was funny), driving to One Police Plaza took time, being turned away and sent to Queens took time, and driving to the Queens Central Booking Unit really took time. And then it took hours to get all of us processed and into cells.
Each new arrival in the women’s cell was greeted with applause. We were an assorted group of gals; SEIU was well represented with Mary Kay Henry in the cell. There were several women from 1199 and a group from Make the Road. The oldest woman arrested will turn 75 next week and of course we sang “Happy Birthday.” One of our youngest cellmates was celebrating her birthday as an arrestee – we sang again – loud. My City Council Rep Melissa Mark Viverito was with us and was delightful company. We sat, we chatted, we sang a little more, we got hungry. The cops ranging in attitude from matter-of-fact courtesy to warm support and gratitude brought us water, milk and sandwich-like entities. When one ofour cellmates complained about the cuisine another said, “At least they are trying. It’s whole wheat.” Now that’s a positive attitude! What ever “IT” is, it is tan and grainy and might be bread, and if you are hungry enough you eat it unless somebody has smuggled in an extra granola bar.
As the night wore on the heroic support team (it was a lot warmer in the cells) helped newly released arrestees find safe ways of getting home. Thank you Annabelle for being so gracious and steady throughout that cold night. Pat and I were released after 1:00AM and Pat went home to face work the next day. How she did that is beyond my comprehension – she’s tougher than she looks. Bev got out a little after 4:00AM and the support team got us a livery cab to share with 1199SEIU organizers going to Manhattan.
Our driver had been listening to the news throughout his 12-hour shift and thanked us for what we were doing. The car which belonged to the service, not to him, broke down in lower Manhattan. Hopelessly stalled, he called for another car. He called for a tow truck. He was worried that he would not be home in time to give his wife money so that she could get work and have lunch. They live day to day. Our driver was not making money while he was sitting with us in that broken car. The car was quiet but not his heart.
We are the 99%.
for the Granny Peace Brigade