BLM Protests in Downtown Houston
The Basics of Police Abolition Explained
by Usama Abbas.
I am a UH Student. This is my first hand account.
On Tuesday [June 2] while peacefully protesting in Downtown, my brother (15) and I, were maced, charged at, beaten with batons, and nearly arrested. After being maced, we pulled back all the people we could see from in front of the police line and my brother promptly pulled out a water bottle with water and baking soda to pour on our faces and the people around us (I had conversed with him on the way there on how to handle tear gas and mace which he was following) and the cop grabbed his hand with the bottle and beat his hand with his baton multiple times until he dropped it. Then proceeded to rip off my brother’s backpack and stole it which we had filled with First Aid Supplies for protesters (with the help of amazing people who donated). He then grabbed and pulled at my brother to detain him but Allahumdulillah I was able to pull him away and off the sidewalk and into the parking lot. May Allah SWT bless those fellow protesters who gave us water and ice for my brother’s hand as well as lemons for our throats that were on fire. HPD did all of this, COMPLETELY UNPROVOKED. We were asked by cops to get out of the streets and onto the sidewalks prior to this incident and we complied and got onto the sidewalk. Then they did this. While I am not surprised, this was my first time personally/physically encountering police brutality. It brought me to tears which I held back because my younger brother was there looking up to me. The cause of my tears was that the injustice and brutality that a Black man, woman, and child face became so vivid. I have always used my entire capacity to stand up for what I believe in. And this is something that’s always been dear to my heart, however, now this is cause is going to be one of my main focuses in life. I will be continue to be an Ally of the Black Revolution/BLM Movement, till death do us part.
My purpose of posting this is to show that this happened to me, and my skin isn’t even anywhere close to Black. Now try to imagine what a Black person has to fear for, not just right now, but every single time they step out of their homes. We can not.
By Patrick Higgins
To assess the Houston rally for George Floyd held on June, 2nd, by the official proceedings alone would be to ignore the political diversity found in the streets that day. I’ll therefore remark on the formal event as well as its undercurrents and aftermath.
The formidable size of the crowd, rounding out at an estimated 60,000, prevented me from either seeing or hearing the official ceremony, so I’m forced to depend on the testimony of friends in my recounting of that side of things. The rally was organized by Houston-based rappers Trae tha Truth and Bun B in coordination with the City of Houston. The city-sanctioned plan entailed a back-and-forth march between the Discovery Green plaza and City Hall, a roughly ten-block area. According to friends, the ceremony opened with a prayer for law enforcement, followed by chants emphasizing victimhood (e.g., “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”) rather than resistance. The onstage organizers and city officials offered prescriptions limited to voting (presumably for Joe “Crime Bill” Biden) and pushing for the prosecutions of individual killer cops. The messaging, dead set on themes of peace and calm, offered a stark and surreal contrast to the military-police state that had moved into plain view. In my humble capacity as one person among tens of thousands, perhaps it makes sense that I couldn’t hear the homages to Floyd, microphone-amplified though they were. But I could very acutely hear the chops of helicopters and the buzzing of drones, just as I could clearly see swarms of Houston cops clad in riot gear and the many snipers poised in shooting position on rooftops. While I do believe jailing killer cops makes for a righteous use of people’s power in the short term, it should be a minimal and not maximal demand, as another reality was to me inescapable: what’s the occasional prosecution of a killer cop to a system that greets protests with weapons and personnel fit for a military counterinsurgency?
But amongst the people was a counter force to the pacification liturgy. There were many objections to the organizers’ HPD-friendly approach from Black nationalist and Pan Africanist youth, who came out in large numbers. While for obvious reasons they lack powerful stage managers and glamorous platforms, these were the men and women present who seemed most capable of propelling forward radical ideas and putting up real resistance to confront Houston’s many injustices. They adorned their signs with images of and quotations from Malcolm X and H. Rap Brown (who now goes by the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin and is serving time as a political prisoner in the federal United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona). When word got around that riot cops were antagonizing people at an intersection, these youths were organized enough to pull large numbers of people to stand up to the police. After that particular confrontation, a young man, raising an effigy of a police officer, drew a large crowd for his impromptu speech condemning the event organizers’ “ass kissing,” insisting that such misleaders were responsible for killing George Floyd all over again, even in death.
This same general mood prevailed after the rally officially ended at Discovery Green, the main site of police aggression from HPD riot cops and State Troopers. Officers from both units surrounded and trapped the crowd from three separate locations in and around Discovery Green (which included releasing cascades of troopers who’d been hiding in the adjoining George R. Brown Convention Center), and also at City Hall and just about every street in between. At the same time, hours after the “official” event ended, cars and trucks driven by protesters circled the blocks. Out of the vehicle windows Black youth joyfully blasted music and waved the Pan African Liberation flag of Red, Black, and Green. HPD dealt with the wide spread of the protest by forming car squads and relentlessly driving circles of their own while smothering passersby aurally with close-range siren blares. The concurrent stand-off at Discovery Green ended with police tear-gassing and arresting hundreds of protestors, a repeat of an earlier mass arrest that had taken place on Friday, May 29th, when the sweep-up was so exhaustive the cops yanked and handcuffed non-protesters before shipping arrestees to jail en masse on metro buses. On both occasions, the HPD skillfully held populations captive at jagged intersections, away from all local media view, waiting until dark to unleash their brutality.
The problem the people of Houston face when it comes to police violence starts with the Chief of Police, Art Acevedo. By way of contrast, it helps to look at the aggressive, openly hateful leadership of the NYPD. On June 9th, a video appeared online of Mike O’Meara, the President of New York Police Benevolent Association, snorting about police being portrayed in media as “animals” and “thugs.” Few could’ve missed the layered irony of these words, on account of the tables turned as well as the pig’s plea to be disassociated from the rest of the animal kingdom. Snarling with his face flushed red and dousing his microphone in a torrential downpour of rage-spittle, O’Meara might as well have been sent from central casting to fit the archetype of the Angry Irish NY Cop. His weird fascist rant is unlikely to have won him many new champions outside of white America’s (admittedly not insignificant) Blue Lives Matter cult.
Acevedo, however, possesses the quality of cleverness, rare among cops. He contributed to the Internet viral clips of his own in which he announced his supposedly deep sympathy with protestors, laying it on thick with references to his family’s immigrant background, implying he has a first hand understanding of the plight of “people of color,” and, without any evidence, blaming tensions between the HPD and protestors on troublemakers from Austin. (That last bit was his localized Texas variation of the “outside agitators” theme.) It’s up to organizers and principled journalists in Houston to expose the dark truth of the HPD that lurks behind Acevedo’s PR stunts. A worthy start would be to add pressure to existing demands for accountability over at least six recent HPD killings that have occurred in as many weeks. On June 8th, family of Nicolas Chavez, a 27-year-old man shot to death by HPD officers, held a press conference. Chavez’s father Joaquín said that the HPD hasn’t allowed him to view body camera footage of the shooting. Meanwhile, publicly available cellphone footage contradicts Acevedo’s interference-running claim that Chavez represented an aggressive threat: in fact he was shot while surrounded and on his knees. The great poet Gil Scott-Heron was referring to the HPD when he spoke about the “racist dogs” who killed his “common ancient bloodline brother [Jose Campos] Torres” in 1977, the murder that sparked the Moody Park Chicano uprising, and we’re dealing fundamentally with the same HPD in 2020. For his part, Acevedo reveals himself as several things at once: a skilled operator, a talented performer, and a major city police chief with a department to protect. For educational purposes, two sets of records should be kept: one of HPD’s crimes against the working class and poor, and another of Acevedo’s filibustering tactics designed to hide those crimes.
Black Power and George Jackson’s Message to White Workers
As Houston is home to massive working class Black, Chicano, Central American, Asian, and Arab communities, populations who are right now the most immediate targets of the US ruling class’s offensive, it’s worthwhile to add some considerations about what’s unfolding nationally. Recent events show clearly that the US state managers view much of their “own” population as reserve forces of a potential military threat, lying in wait. But that view is not new for “our” rulers, even if their military and surveillance weapons have over the years undergone dramatic technological upgrades. In the late 1960s, the National Guard greeted what were often termed “urban rebellions,” which were then erupting at a rate of hundreds per year, with war. Some troops had been re-appointed to crush revolt in US cities after they’d returned from waging war on the socialist revolution happening in Vietnam. In one case, in Detroit in July of 1967, Michigan Governor George Romney (father of the ever so charismatic billionaire and failed presidential candidate Mitt) even drew up the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions to be used against the uprising.
During the titanic period of struggle in the 60s the ruling class would’ve had an impossible time credibly blaming Black resistance to the white racist power structure on the specter of “white anarchists.” On the concrete of 12th Street in Detroit, where the uprising got started, the rebels drew up the words “Black Power” in big letters and radiant white chalk. The character of their resistance was made clear as a reflection of growing revolutionary Black consciousness, embraced by masses of Black proletarians ready to fight back against a US regime that had long been waging war on them. The term held special meaning for some white radicals as well. In the words of political prisoner David Gilbert, from his memoir Love and Struggle: “’Black Power’… taught an important political lesson: the need was not, as we had thought, to ‘shake the moral conscience of America.’ Those in power knew very well what they were doing. The point, rather, was to shift or overturn who had power—from the small elite in top to the vast majority underneath them.” There is now unfolding a deluge of psychological campaigns wrapped in corporate branding, meme-powered and audience-tested, whose primary aim is to bury talk of revolution with baseline appeals to the white middle classes’ sudden revelation that Black lives do, in fact, after all this time, as it turns out, matter. At its worst, this PR flood is designed to isolate anti-racism from the issue of class power, to keep conditions and consciousness cleanly separate. But as was apparent in Houston on June 2nd, beneath the sponsored ads, the slogan of Black Power is rumbling and growing louder, and the class contradictions are only heightening around us.
We are almost certainly entering a sustained period of global class struggle, including here in the United States. The ruling class used the “lockdown” to implement a gargantuan structural adjustment program, complete with brutal austerity cuts to public programs, increased corporate monopolization, an unemployment number hovering somewhere well above 40 million, and yes, the expansion of police powers. These are the conditions in which the police murder of George Floyd sparked the biggest and most widespread street rebellions since the 60s. These rebellions began with accumulated knowledge from other “homefront” anti-imperialist uprisings of living memory—in Ferguson and Baltimore, as well as the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. This uprising did, for a time, pierce the police’s shield of perceived invulnerability, even if the full extent of the state’s counter-attack, sure to be ghastly, is not yet apparent. Among the more spectacular moments occurred on June 1st when demonstrators sent Trump into his bunker and breached the White House lawn. An expanded security fence has since been erected around the White House; let it stand for the time being as a monument to bourgeois fear and a people’s symbol for what’s possible.
The images of smoke and fire rising from Washington, DC that night added life to the words of the incomparable revolutionary theorist George Jackson in Blood in My Eye: “We must accept the eventuality of bringing the U.S.A. to its knees; accept the closing off of critical sections of the city with barbed wire, armored pig carriers criss-crossing streets, soldiers everywhere, tommy guns pointed at stomach level, smoke curling black against the daylight sky…” I’ve been thinking much about Jackson in light of recent events. He has much to impart to the Black Power cause; he was also a Communist with much to teach all of the working class, including white workers. Part of the reason that Jackson wrote in the language of war is that he felt certain that fascism had long since arrived to the United States of America in its purest form. For him, fascism was less a subjective nationalist ideological expression than it was an objective economic arrangement. The imperialist triumph of the US after the Second World War was “the prototype of the international fascist counterrevolution”: the consolidation of monopoly capitalism through a pact between the State, the Corporation, and, at various key points in history, the support of the reformist elements of labor. Jackson insisted that monopoly capitalism precluded the possibility of bourgeois democracy as it had been practiced in the 19th century, when competition still more or less drove commerce.
The power of Jackson’s observations can be partially attributed to Jackson’s position as a prisoner of empire. Viewing the world from a cell within the walls US’s latest mass industry, its prisons, Jackson implored, what democracy? Jackson’s observations must also be credited to his role as a leader of the Black liberation movement. He believed that Black people, disproportionately represented among America’s exploited, would inevitably lead any revolution that occurs in the US. He did after all declare himself a “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist-Fanonist.” We see in this self-description how he did not write from the position of an “American citizen”; he wrote as an American subject. This is not a distinction intuitively grasped by white people raised in the United States; Jackson’s exact words were that, for the lonely Black revolutionary, “No one can understand the feeling but himself.” Jackson nonetheless championed the science of class struggle. Over his 11 years in prison, he saw that prisoners were disproportionately Black men, but he also observed that never in his time had he met a prisoner of any race who was not from the working class. In referring to the leadership of the “Vanguard Black Panther Communist Party,” Jackson saw the party’s role as the creation of the “revolutionary commune in the city center” that could shake the rest of the working class, especially white workers molded and trained by ruling class design to think as racists, out of their anti-social slumber.
Blood in My Eye presents racism as the key to the insidious success of US fascism, the secret ingredient needed to elicit the defection of the reformist elements of labor to the ruling system. Racism is also a matter of deep “psycho-social” conditioning, a “psychopathic destructiveness evinced by a people historically processed to fear… to hate freedom.” Jackson argued that the “morbid, traditional” white fear of Black people doubles as “a fear of revolution”—effectively it is the white worker’s fear of their own freedom. Contrary to US ruling class abuses of the word “freedom,” these past weeks should by now have made clear to more people that helicopters acting as low flying sound weapons are not freedom; phones operating as surveillance tracking software are not freedom; curfews are not freedom. For the people, a depression is already here. The reserve army of the unemployed is still rapidly growing, a surplus population the ruling class loathes, attempts to control, and desires to reduce in number, while those workers still employed walk into ever more dangerous work plants under the contemptuous watchful eyes of bosses so paranoid about the communal prospect of unionization that they’d deny even bathroom breaks. In stark contrast, Jackson proposed that real freedom means “warmth and protection from the harsh exposure of the elements,” “food, not garbage,” and “truth, harmony, and the social relations that spring from these.”
George Jackson was right about the relationship of white supremacist terror to broader class exploitation in the US. “Black, brown, and white are all victims together” because eventually conditions “will move us all to a violent encounter with the system.” The monopoly-corporativist state Jackson described will sooner or later come for the whole of the proletariat, and everyday the proletariat swells larger. Just look at this ugly world being co-created by the military bureaucracy, the high-rise CEOs, the financial aristocracy, and the devoted social engineers of Big Tech. In response, George Jackson speaks from the past to beckon white proletarians to follow the path carved by the Black liberation movement and, in so doing, to stop fearing freedom.
As we were making our way to the protests Downtown through Ea-Do, we were greeted by black cowboys in Floyd George shirts riding their horses to the protest. Prior to this, the only horses I had encountered at protests were mounted patrol units, so it was beautiful to see protestors with horses. By the time we made it to Discovery Green, the march to City Hall was about to get underway. The atmosphere at the protest was mesmerizing: thousands upon thousands of people—mostly youth—taking to the streets against structural racism and institutionalized police violence. Everywhere I looked, my eyes caught vibrant signs that reflected these sentiments, demanding racial equality and an end to criminalizing black bodies.
Brandishing a Keffiyeh—a black-and-white scarf symbolizing Palestinian nationalism—my partner and I marched alongside a Palestinian contingent protesting the heinous murder of George Floyd. The banner we marched with read “Palestinians for Black Liberation,” which was popularly received throughout the protest. Every few minutes, people would stop to ask for photographs of the banner—or to be photographed alongside it. At one point when our contingent moved to the sidelines to regroup and distribute water and snacks to protesters, scores of protestors shouted, “Free Palestine!” while others cheered loudly in support as they walked past. At one point, an elderly black activist from the march joined us and began engaging with passing protesters on the shared struggles and the rich lineage of Black-Palestinian solidarity, urging those passing by to read up on Palestine and America’s role in supporting and sustaining Israeli colonial rule in Palestine.
The protest in Houston against the structures of white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence that took the life of a Houston soul was by far the largest I had witnessed in my short time living in Houston. An older activist I interacted with informed me that they had not witnessed such mass mobilizations here since the 1970s. Though this protest was coopted from the onset by Mayor Sylvester Turner and HPD chief Art Acevedo, many in attendance made it clear that this movement is also geared toward ending police violence in Houston. As we marched, protestors chanted the names of the six people murdered by the HPD since late April. These chants were a reminder that behind the publicity stunt engineered by Acevedo lie a viciously brutal police force.
As soon as the march dwindled down by the time we returned to Discovery Green, police in riot gear began to descend onto the streets from every single corner to encircle and kettle protestors into tight spaces to charge and arrest them with trespassing on private property. Now that most of the protestors had left and nightfall approached, unit after unit, armed to the teeth, clustered to barricade and harass the remaining protestors. Moments after, protestors began scrambling in all directions after the first canisters of teargas and flashbangs were projected onto the public. I left shortly after to make my night-shift as an online educator, hoping that the massive turn-out that day would expand and grow in Houston into waves of mass resistance that have developed across other major cities in the United States.
My Saturday night begins at 9:30 pm. A friend and I link up at his apartment with plans to bike around downtown Houston and see what the state of the protest is at. My street knowledge is not sharp but a good starting point for all this is Bagby and Westheimer.
We bike downtown towards discovery green and find no one. We then head towards city hall and encounter protestors marching on the street and join. This period is pretty hazy for me but includes us running from police at one point, in reaction to them running to “guide and control” the protestors but easily is perceived as them coming to get us or if anything is scary as fuck just because of the time of night and we’re marching against police brutality.
We cut a turn into this connecting street with a large building (I cannot remember the building name or even what it was) facing the road. All of us realize that police are at both ends of the street, no way out but to go through the building and so we do but the national guard (based on the difference in uniform and equipment that was visible in their shadow profile with those intense lights on top of police vehicles blasting in our direction behind them) were waiting for us at the other end of the shortcut across a grass lawn. With no way out some protestors go back to the connecting street where police units march to entrap us. My friend and I along with a few protestors cut through a construction site adjacent to the walkway between the connecting street and the lawn and make it out to a street without police vehicles (they definitely did not expect people to take that detour.)
From there more hazy memories of the next hours but I’ll skip to the part where shit got real. As we’re marching and running away from police (parts of the protest are split into smaller groups w/ plans to link backup; honestly a lack of leadership at this point meant we were all just running away from where the police were).
Recollecting my memories and using Apple Maps, I’m piecing together this moment as us running towards the Toyota Center on Clay street, we will position this moment at Clay street and Louisiana street. We run towards the street, I’m still on my bike, tossed that shit over a metal fence to get to the street without police presence. As we approach the stadium, some white kids get hella hype and start breaking windows, a friend I made during the process later tells me that it looked like an art store. Police cars chase after us and we start picking up the speed before a big ass firework goes off behind us. Cops put the pedal to the medal after this and everyone is running for their lives. I take a left at La Branch then take a right at Polk street and police SUV goes over the curve hops out and catches some people. Swear they were like 3-5 yards away from me when they get out of their car but I make it out and lose them. I see cop cars head to toward 59 so I turn back toward the area in front of the Toyota Center (Root Square, will be very important in all this). As I bike I’m getting anxious af cops pulling up everywhere as they conduct some pretty brutal arrests (one man in front of Toyota facing Root had been tazed and is detained; two women pull up on foot to video and I’m pretty sure were arrested).
I call my friend and decide to meetup at the corner of La Branch and Bell. Other protestors were there with my friend but as I approach police begin to form a line around us. My friend was the last to get out as a cop encloses the line around us w our backs to the building on the corner. As shit develops and chaos continues, a swarm of police come onto the scene, shit felt like the whole force was out in on this intersection and there were easily hundreds of them including hella members of the National Guard.
This is where my 35 hr experience of the mass arrest that took place in Houston on Saturday night.
12:11 am Sunday May 31st. We’re surrounded and no cop says anything to us. We plead and beg to be let go, that we were just observing the fallout of this police blitzkrieg on the protestors, and that we clearly followed their instructions to move to the sidewalk. Keep asking cops “whats going on?”, “are we being charged with anything?”. This continues for the next two hours as bus after bus comes in to place protestors that were caught around the area, in particular Roots Park where everyone has described as a crazy wave of police beating people with batons just for being in the vicinity. One story that stands out is of a man walking in the area, not even participating in the protest. A police officer strikes with his baton toward his head/upper body and he catches it and wrestles with him. After realizing its a cop, he lets up and he is beaten and five cops come up on him and put their knees on his elbows, knees, and back.
During the waiting period, we are completely in the dark about what they are going to do. We tell them they are entrapping us without pressing a charge and they do not even look in our eyes or say anything. Some officers are smirking, talking amongst themselves as we freak out over this bullshit. One of the members of this group comes to a conclusion that they are just conducting an investigation and leaving the enclosed circle of cops will result in getting obstruction of justice. One guy has had enough and approaches the line in an attempt to force his way out. They immediately arrest him. Moments throughout this include hella cops holding batons and/or riot shields while other members including the National Guard are armed standing behind them. At 2:30am some fat white cop comes out with a speaker phones stating “this is the Houston Police Department, you are all going to be under arrest for obstructing a highway/passageway. If you do not resist, this will be your only charge. We’ll be coming to get you one by one.“
We’re all in shock, some in such disbelief that this has to be some sort of joke and we all work to write down numbers on sticky notes. They start sending in five man groups into grabbing each person. Each time it is the same setup, the arresting officer comes up and puts us in zip ties (many have told me were tight af, some having their hands turn purple due to the tightness of the grip) while being live coached by some white cop. After zip tying, three cops post up in front in a line w/ their batons in front. Shit looked like a fascist claw machine game but the toys are actual fucking human beings.
I would say I was the fourth or fifth person to being picked up. Officer Ramos searched my pockets, did the whole “got anything that’ll poke me” line. Unreal. We are then put on a bus to be taken to the HPD Central Station. We are walked to the Herbert Gee Municipal Courthouse, each of us escorted by our arresting officer to a gymnasium inside. The setup is as such. At one end of the basketball court (where the entrance to come in is) there are four tables, one to the right of the entrance with three computers, one behind the hoop which has cops giving instructions as to what to do with our belongings and what to write on our baggy, a table a couple feet in front of that table with an inclination toward the left side. There is a woman with her laptop and a big ass line of cops each with their own personal belongings bag. On the left side of the court outside the lines of play is a huge table with multiple laptop setups. On the opposite side of the court from this table is a makeshift pen (barricades creating a circle and having us just stand there) and another pen underneath the other basketball hoop. The men were placed in the barricade circle under the hoop and the women at the other circle. Note: a transgender woman was placed in our space, no cop took her seriously and she endured some emotional abuse from the men in the space. Felt awful for her.
Further note: there is no way we did not have more than two feet of space for us to separate. Social distancing was thrown out the window and never returned for the rest of the night. From here until 8 o’clock we are held until a bus comes to picks us up to take us to Harris County Jail.
Notable events: a man pukes on the outskirts of the barricade, takes hours for them to get a janitor to come clean it up; responses to our questions of what and when things are going to happen are either met with silence, lack of knowledge on their part, or just given arbitrary times for when the bus is coming that are quickly shown to be bullshit. As a sign of mercy, they give us the leftover Whataburger meals and Subway sandwiches that were meant to feed the force and that were about to be thrown away. That shit was beyond fucking cold and stale, only ate the fries and even that shit was tough as fuck to swallow but did not eat before I left my friends apartment. This takes place around 6am. I manage to get my left hand loose from the zip tie and I sleep for 2 hours at around 4am. Furthermore, captives and cops constantly engage in these violent exchanges with veiled threats of further and worse punishment. We get our first bathroom break around 6:30/7am. Zip-ties would make this shit impossible but I was lucky enough to have my shit loose, others were not afforded this luxury.
At around 8 we are loaded up into a bus to be taken to county. We arrive at county and proceed to wait an hour to an hour and a half for all of us to empty out the bus into the jail. Three groups, first the women, then the first wave of men, then the final wave (I was in this wave). Driver won’t speak to us about whats going, few times he speaks he tells us to shut up. We go into the jail, strip down to our boxers, and our temperature is taken and we are given a face mask. Then we are taken to the holding cell in the basement. Holding cell at max capacity, wanna say 18-24 people in it. Fuck the processing cop who complimented my shirt and conversed with me in Spanish as if that would alleviate the situation. Windows are one way mirrors so psychologically the surveillance aspect of all this is fucked up. Not gonna lie though, kinda funny when the door opens and you see others looking through their glasses trying to see what is going on. We are here for an hour maybe more, from there we go to processing. They gave us our first meal in holding which were pieces of white bread, pieces of processed sandwich meat (literally have no idea what that shit was) and some of the worst american cheese I have ever tasted in my entire life. Shit tasted like artificial death. I eat the pieces of bread and the cookies. Food count: four pieces of white bread, three cookies, and the Whataburger fries from earlier. We are seated in a waiting area and they call out our names one to two at a time depending on which cops are open to look at what we are getting checked. Someone reviews the items we are coming in with. Find out they lost one of my rings. No idea how to engage this issue so I just give up and tell them note there is only four rings. From there we go to a waiting room next to the area where they are reviewing the stuff we were arrested with. They call us by name, we come forward and they ask the standard COVID-19 travel and mental health questions (if you ever been to jail, you probably recognize this process). From there they send us upstairs at maybe three to four people at a time. This is the scene where we wait the absolute most in. It is a two hundred person capacity waiting area with ten kiosks with bonds people ready to receive us and give us our bond or info on extra charges some may have gotten. We get our finger prints and mug shots taken. Note: some bathrooms would not flush, especially disgusting when the setup has the sink right behind the toilet. Could barely stomach the stench or breathe while trying to wash my hands. After a while lots of us are placed into “tanks” which are basically communal living spaces for inmates. Its a huge room with eight to ten seated tables, toilets and water dispensers, and bunk beds. If y’all played matball as a kid, now those mats are what we can lay on. From 1pm to 9pm we are here. Cannot make a phone call and we are never given information about what is going on (fucking bullshit since we asked if we could make phone calls there and were told yes we could). I slept for a majority of this time. Second bag of the same food minus the cheese slices are handed out. Food count: eight pieces of bread and five cookies. They come get us on groups to be sent back to the pretrial area. Cop who guides our group again threatens us with more time if we disobey or disrespect her, honestly fucking hate that bitch, I’m glad an inmate punched you in the face (her words). Other groups of protestors had been put into other tanks, some with inmates already present. One friend tells me he lays on his bunk mat and underneath finds two shanks made out of ball point pens. We are back in the pretrail area and wait for someone to call our name so we can get our general order bond. I do not get mine until 4:20am the next day. Even with that, I needed to go up to the teller and ask if our paperwork is ready. Some workers went with it and some did not, turning into a trend of people moving close to the kiosks and just hopping in with hopes that they will process you before they read out a name. Throughout this waiting period we cannot sleep because we are threatened with losing our spots if we do not respond when our names are called. Threats of being booked and spending an extra 48 hours here are always weaponized and thrown out to maintain compliance. We get another bag of the same make your own sandwich bullshit at 3am (fucked up because they said chow time was at 11pm). Mind you, EVERY part of this process we interact with inmates in jail doing what is slave labor and the way some of the cops engages them is so degrading. “Hurry up bitch” says a cop when they are not performing to standards. From there those with their paperwork are taken to a pre-release waiting area. We spend hours here doing nothing. One man says he has been there since Sunday 7 pm and deservedly calls out the cop for this unreasonable shit. Notable parts of this moment: literal good cop bad cop type moment between two cops, black man playing as a bad cop and old white woman as a good cop. We asked good cop when things were going to happen or how long, she proceeds to blame us for not asking night shift what was going. Highlight of this whole fucking thing: my friend asks “will you be feeding us like the other times while we wait here?”, cop replies like a lunatic “back in the day, my momma use to tell me don’t mess with that guy. I’M THAT GUY. You should be grateful to be in this part of all this” note my friend literally asked if we were going to be fed again and we are told to be grateful. Literally he and I could not stop laughing for how utterly ridiculous and cruel this moment was. Especially after being at Harris County Jail for a day and two nights. We are moved group by group into release. More threats come out from cops to extend our waiting time and to put us in these holding cells next to the rows of seats in the waiting area. Super fucked up seeing this especially when on our side we can see everything going on in these holding cells and seeing how people act when they cant see shit outside the glass. I’m given my stuff and I’m released at 11am Monday June 1st. I’m not allowed to protest and if I’m arrested again I will be fully charged with the obstruction of justice.