Kiss-in organisé le 29 août 2004

par le groupe new-yorkais Queer Fist. Lire plus bas une entrevue effectuée avec un queerfister arrêté à cette occasion-là.


 

Thursday 2nd September 2004
An Interview With an Arrestee
at the NYC Queer Fist Kiss In

There were perhaps 78 people arrested Sunday, August 29, 5:30 p.m. at the “Kiss In”, not all of whom were Queer Fist. The action was satire highlighting the hypocrisy of the mainstream gay agenda.

Vince: “Did you think you’d be arrested?”

I had no idea that I would be arrested. I went down to meet in occasion to not to get arrested. I wasn’t planning on doing civil disobedience or direct action or anything to do with the police.

Vince: “Why were you arrested? Did the police tell you to disperse?”

Evidently we didn’t have a permit. I never heard a cop say disperse. We were moving through the theater district around 8th Ave and 46th Street.

My image is we had been moving and shouting. Cops were walking along side of us reminding us not to block traffic and stay on the sidewalk.

We crossed the street onto a traffic island. The cops were moving toward us. The street medics thought they might need to be prepared and put on goggles. The cops may have assumed they were masks. They jumped on the medics and threw them to the ground. People were really freaked. Cops were throwing people down. People were yelling at the police and trying to get close to the medics to pull them away. Police brought in medics. Some form of crowd control

There was very aggressive energy. We made it across the street to the other side. We kept walking. This is where I’m not sure what happened. Maybe police stopped us or moved us along. The group divided. When we reached the next block. We were blockaded. I read accounts that there was a net, but I just saw police.

Clearly they must have found out what our route was. I believe they had a previous idea to get us off the streets. Were we targeted in advance? We are a lot of queer and transgender people. I’m not sure if that was pre-planned or not.

The arresting officers were assigned to five activists. They took our photos with the person who arrested us. They asked if we had anything in our pockets. They placed these in plastic bags. They eventually started loading people into a police bus. We were the first and put on the back of the bus. By the time we got down to the piers, it was 8:15 and we were arrested at 5:00 They dragged off some people. I’m not sure where they were taken.

Since we didn’t have any idea that we would get arrested, we didn’t have any group solidarity plan, whether or not we’d give names, or do passive resistance.

Vince: “You mean during processing some were separated from the main group? Do you know why?”

Because they weren’t giving names. Originally, I thought they were being targeted for being more gender variant, but evidently it was because they were going limp.

Down at the pier there was a procedure of, “May we have water?” And told, “No, you can’t.?” Asking, “ What are we being held for?”, and being greeted with silence and stoicism on the part of the cops.

Vince: “Did they read you your rights?”

They did not read us our rights. They wouldn’t, evidently.

The cops were holding a video camera, but it might be standard procedure. They were sitting around the protestors videotaping.

Vince: “Did they use excessive force when they made the arrests?”

They were definitely using excessive force. They are street medics. There job is not to instigate anyone. They were putting on goggles. The police slammed them to the ground. Maybe the police thought the goggles signaled some sort of intention.

Vince: “Why did the street medics put on goggles?

It got down to the police, just in case any sort of gas that might be used. There was not any sort of violence.

Vince: “Back to the piers, the procedures...”

Eventually they did give us water. It was a long procedure of letting them take your property.

Vince: “The condition at the piers?”

An impromptu prison sectioned with razor wire. The floor is disgusting. It’s a warehouse. There is diesel fuel on the ground. There might be an investigation as far as how harmful that was. People were getting rashes.

Vince: “Where did you sleep?”

We had to sleep on the floor.

Vince: “On mats?”

There were no benches, no mats.

Around 4:00 in the morning when they brought us to the tombs. There was incredible amount of bureaucratic procedure: transported, fingerprinted, and photographed. Interesting, since most of are being held for violations. Ordinally they don’t . Increased surveillance. You are being held for a traffic violations. They don’t have a physical record of you.

They searched us again. EMT’S checked us. A lot did report bruises and swollen hands from the plastic handcuffs. Certain property we were allowed to keep. We were not allowed to keep cigarettes and cell-phones.

Vince: “It sounds like you were searched a lot.”

I believe I was searched two times as central booking, as far as being patted down, emptying my pockets. Drop your shorts, felt underneath my binder. I don’t know if that’s standard.

Vince: “Were protesters given access to any medications they had?”

One of my friends had medication. I believe that she had access. I cannot say that everyone who needed meds got them. I’m not sure that was an across the board thing.

One girl arm was injured. Her friend was unsure whether she was being treated. While one person was allowed access to medication.

Vince: “What were you eventually charged with?”

I was charged with two violations: parading without a permit, and disorderly conduct for blocking a sidewalk.

At this point, it was perhaps seven in the morning on Monday. Court officials were trying to get information, so that we could be processed later, names and addresses. They took our photos when we were arrested.

Our group had no previous plan, as to how we were going to deal with this. The started leading us to believe that we would be processed on Monday morning. I was moved to another cell at two in the afternoon. I was not arraigned until 6:00 p.m. Some were issued DAT (desk appearance tickets). You are free to go with a later court date. Which means you would have to come back to court. People were released at different times throughout.

We did have legal aid from the National Lawyers Guild, which is good.

Vince: “We’re you allowed to make phone calls?”

They had a payphone downtown. At the pier, we didn’t have access to telephones.

Upon arrest people NLGT were trying to get our names, but we couldn’t use telephones until we got to central booking. In one holding cell I was in, the telephone didn’t work, but in the one previous to that the phone did work, and I did have access.

I only mention that because in the cell with the non-working phone, we‘d ask the officers to see if we could call. We were told things like, “It‘s a shift change” or “The lawyer will be in shortly.”

Vince: “When did you get out?”

I got out at 6:30 It was incredible relief having the end of the ordeal in sight. We were moved into the court area. While we were walking into the court we were told to be quiet. I heard an officer say, “They better be quiet ,or I’m going knock they’re fucking teeth out.”

That was upsetting. I’m going to get justice and then I hear that.

I plead ACD. This means that as long as I’m not charged with anything with in the next six months, I’d be free to go. My lawyer that it’s okay to protest during that time, as long as I’m not arrested for anything stronger.

Some people did plead not guilty. If the charges aren’t dropped, they have to continue to follow-up on it.

Volunteers from Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which is an advocacy group for trans people, were notified. They were there, and wanted to make sure that everything went okay being a gender queer prisoner. That was incredible to know people cared and were helping.

I spoke with someone from The People’s Law Collective, as far as police misconduct, and how to negotiate the legal system. Food not bombs met us with food to eat. There was also Herbal medic stuff. There was lots of post jail support that was good to come back to.

Vince: “Did you get your cell-phone and other stuff back?”

I guess if I had I.D. on me, I would have been able to claim my stuff.

Vince: “Anything else you’d like to add?”

It was an ordeal: very bizarre, sensory deprivation, not knowing what time it, not knowing what the procedure is. I’m being held without having done anything to warrant this. I know that a lot of people were planning to risk civil disobedience.

Vince: “What was the purpose queer radicals, the kiss-in?”

This was intended to a visible queer action without any intent of having this happen, this arrest and detainment.

With the group called queer fist, before I joined up with them did “Married to the State“, in which people were in costume dressed to marry others same-sex people dressed as mainstream oppressors. It was a very theatrical way of protesting the mainstream GLBT assimilationist agenda that is putting the right of same sex couples to marry at the fore-front to the exclusion of other pressing issues.

The kiss-in sprung off from that to show that there are radical gay people that aren’t about the state sanctioning of certain relationships to the detriment of others. It was very in your face. We were showing that in the face of intimidation we were out and around and protesting. There is still a vibrancy about getting up.

It’s my understanding that people were participating as a way of demonstrating a more radical queer agenda, one which takes issue with a mainstream assimilation gay movement bent on sanctioning same-sex couple, rather than say getting health care for all people. Sanctifying and sanctioning queer marriage in the same way that straight marriage has been bolstered. It was an action that takes issues with homophobia and also with the mainstream gay agenda and gay politics represented by such assimilationist groups as HRC.

Vince: “Are you intimidated from participating in future demonstrations?”

It’s a very physically jarring event to be arrested. I’m really not intimidated. It was scary, but now I have a better idea of what to expect. I have a increase sense of why it’s important to get out there. There are really great people who are organizing.

I’m shaken and somewhat disillusioned with regard to this democracy as it is enacted now.

Vince: “Could you tell me about yourself?”

I’m 19. I identify as a boy dyke. I’m from out of state, but I’m going to school in Poughkeepsie, New York.

It was the first time that I have been arrested. I was excited to see radical queers out doing something from the radical gay agenda. These were great fucking people to be locked up with. The jail solidarity was exciting.

This was not my first demonstration. I’ve done the world economic forum, and previously in the day I had marched with Jews for racial and economic justice.

Editor’s note: for background on Queer Fist information see also: See also: http://newjersey.indymedia.org/feature/display/13591/index.php

This article was also published on NJ IMC http://newjersey.indymedia.org/feature/display/13678/index.php

Editor’s Note: Due to concerns raised from legal solidarity, we have chosen not to release the name of the young activist.