April 19, 2003

And Then...

Like any good citizen who loses his bicycle and nearly his life, I make a report to the Portland Police Bureau the following day(3/21). After a hearty breakfast(something I was quite thankful for later on) and some work in the garden, the distinguished officers Maas and Searle came to my door.

I was expecting a straightforward interaction, where they heard my story and gave me a phone number to call in a few days. Needless to say, the interaction was anything but that. When Maas paused in her lecture about the threat to society posed by cyclists, it was only to allow her sidekick to tell me that, if he had his way, he'd "take me in on criminal mischief and disorderly conduct right now".

I got pretty flustered, my incident report devolving quickly into interrogation. Tired of eavesdropping, my housemate Ani came and stood by my side. I was asked about 12 times if I thought a bicycle through a windshield was a threat. Apparently the police spoke with the driver first. He gave this sob story about being surrounded and threatened by cyclists who pounded on his truck and lifted up their bikes in anger(true, this occurred AFTER he ran over my bike). Endangered as he was, he felt that his only possibility for escape would come at the expense of my bike.

I had but only a few minutes to express how preposterous this story was before I was being searched and handcuffed. Ani took down my home phone number as I was removed from my own living room, in custody of the PPB.

My stay at the local precinct was quite bearable. I had a clean cell to my self, with white walls, high ceilings, a steel sink and toilet, and a little window so we could keep an eye on each other. Taking full advantage my cell's phenomenal acoustics, I amused myself(and them) with my most heartfelt renditions of every song I learned last summer at Hawthorne Valley, with an encore of Lucinda Williams' "Concrete and Barbed Wire". My hands kept busy with the best tissue sculpture I could muster in handcuffs.

After about two hours I was transferred downtown. The ride was uneventful, and the music blasted into the back of the squad car provided an insight into the roots of the violent nature of our police force. My recommendations to the officers regarding their poor choice of routes was met with, first, resistance('keep it down back there!'), and, later, agreement(cops hate to get told the fastest route by a cyclist).

There is nothing to say about my stay at the sheriff's building, except maybe that it was a soul-deadening experience. It is underground, fluorescent-lit(when asked how he could stand working without natural light, one officer replied "it's like being in a 7-11."), and it is comprised of two gender-separated seating areas, akin to a hospital waiting room. Each side had a TV, towards which all of the seats were pointed; the women watched the home improvement channel while we were subjected to about 5 hours of March Madness punctuated by propaganda reports from Dan Rather.

The lone high point was talking with the woman who took my mug shot and fingerprints. Conversation revealed that her kids graduated from College Park in the late 80's, and that she used to live in Martinez. When she told me she lived near Rolling Hill Way, I couldn't help but mention my friends on Rainbow Court. Just the mention of the name Small changed her mood, and she began to list the $30,000 in damages that the family caused in the house she rented to them. I felt more than a little guilty, having taken part in any number of adventures in that house. I will never know if my continuing association with her former tenants served to shorten or lengthen my stay, but I was thankful for any contact outside of the warden-prisoner dichotomy.
About 7:30PM I was released onto the cold and rainy streets of Portland, penniless and far from home. I began to beg for change for a bus ride home, when somebody asked "are you David?" The jail support crew was out there, with food and sweaters, and news that my landlord was coming to pick me up.

Twenty minutes later I was sipping pomegranate juice at a Persian restaurant, upset, confused, but thankful to be on the outside again.

Posted by DV at April 19, 2003 01:33 AM

Umm.. so not to bore anyone with a long winded response to Dave's post, I'll simply sum it up in one word.


Ok, I'm done, everyone else can now express the same thing in a more verbose manner.

Sorry this happened to you Dave. Damn the man.

Posted by: gene at April 19, 2003 02:22 PM

Yes. That sucks a lot.

Gene, how much of the $30,000 do you think you were personally responsible for?

Posted by: sean at April 19, 2003 05:19 PM

definitely outrage, but also really enjoying your writing. please get arrested again so that I can continue to read your lovely clean prose.

Posted by: didofoot at April 19, 2003 08:22 PM