Saturday, September 19th, 2015 I was arrested for photographing the police in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was my first arrest and I want to talk about it.
I have gradually become involved with the police accountability movement over the last year. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting the most influential and hard-working gonzo journalists and activists in the Midwest, and with them I have found a safe place to fight for the rights of my friends and neighbors here in southwest Ohio, my home. It is my friendships with these people which allowed for the viral outbreak of support after being locked in a cage.
That being said, I was immersed in a new experience regarding the police state in America. Foremost, the risk of losing your own freedom because of principles is real. I was doing nothing more than photographing the arrest of Talis Gage when my hands were grabbed and tightly zip tied behind my back. I tossed my camera to the curb and went peacefully, for there is no reasoning with psychopaths. This video of my arrest was shot by Benjamin Virnston, who was also arrested for documenting the event:
After being kidnapped for 7+ hours, I was released due to the good will of Micah ben David posting bond. I was searched three times, fingerprinted twice, my belongings were taken, and I was given an armband – all normal procedure, but a dehumanizing one which treat citizens like cattle. Once processed, an officer herded me to the top floor of the Reading Road Corrections Center and into an isolated cell, completely alone and without explanation for the next three hours. Frankly, it was anxiety-inducing not knowing if my bail was posted or when I would be released. I did push-ups and read the names of past prisoners scratched into the drab, semigloss-painted cinder block walls to pass the time.
Many have had a night in jail, and sadly many have experienced far worse treatment from police. A fortunate man I would be to escape the brunt of cop violence for the rest of my life. Thousands are not able to say that. There is no comparison between me and them, and I do not think my story to be more important than another’s, however such a thing does not make the behavior of Cincinnati’s Lamest any less condemnable.
I am a highly social person, as many are. In those few hours of isolation, I understood the purpose of incarceration in a new way. Being in jail is not a punishment – banishment from the world is. I realized jail is not a place where bad people go to be rehabilitated, or to serve “their time”, but rather a coward’s device used to silence opposition. Any individual who thinks it is acceptable to isolate another person from all outside interaction – even for a short while – is not human him/herself, and shouldn’t be given the dignity of being recognized as such. Police are sub-mortal creatures mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to perform these duties without apprehension of conscience.
As a mobile person who (to the surprise of some) has a professional life as well, it can be difficult to explain the nature of police brutality to associates and family who have never given it critical thought. Often I leverage my good nature and lighthearted attitude as an example for others as to what the solution for government subjugation entails. All hatred and violence is disarmed by loving your neighbor – by nourishing the traits of peace, forgiveness, hope, and a short memory. Outside of these qualities, there is and will never be a solution to police – or any kind of – brutality.
I don’t know exactly how embracing abstract ideas translate into a better world. But I do know these are the guiding principles for myself and most of humanity. Every person deserves dignity, but that dignity is forsaken the moment initiated violence becomes acceptable. For government officials, understanding this as a reality is paramount.
In closing, if CPD or any government official of Cincinnati is reading this, I implore you to give up the ghost of authoritarianism. It does not work, and if you continue to behave in a manner such as at the March for Justice, you will and should have riots to deal with. Do not mistake the message of peace and love for pacifism. If you continue down this path, your own will die, your temples will burn, and your ruling elite will be thrown into the impoverished streets which you have created. This is not a call to violence, but merely the lesson which history teaches us is the eventual outcome of iron-fisted rule. We are all waiting on justice for the wanton violence of your law enforcement officers, the arrogance of the Fraternal Order of Police, and the careless training of those who wield power.