To the editors:
I would like to thank Bill Wyman for what I found to be a very balanced and realistic account of what happened after the Public Enemy show at the Aragon (January 18).
There is a point made in the article about what happened to the picture IDs of the women that I would like to emphasize. The article states, "that station (the 19th) would not release their IDs without some other form of identification." Since our IDs are never mentioned again, the reader may get the impression that they were released when we provided some other form of identification. This was not the case. All subsequent inquiries to the 20th District by Kristie and me have been met with, "Nobody here has any knowledge of what happened to your IDs." In fact, the officer at the 19th District who took a phone call from the person who was helping to bail me out told her, "They probably threw them out." Throwing out your picture IDs increases the time you are held by as much as 24 hours--not a very plausible explanation.
At the 20th District, a young man came into the room where we were being held just after the verbally abusive officer left, and asked for our IDs. We took them out again and gave them to him, and he left the room. Soon after, we found out that we were going to be transferred, and asked about our IDs. The two female officers who had been watching us the entire time said they did not know who took our IDs, or where they had been taken. We were asked to describe the man. When we did, we were told that there was no such person there. As we left, we were assured that our IDs would be sent on to the 19th District. As we were being booked at the 19th, we again asked, and the officer said she hadn't been told anything about IDs by the 20th. None of us were released until someone brought other picture IDs to the station.
Immediately after getting home that morning, I called the 20th District to ask if our IDs had been "found." Since both of the other women were from out of state, I thought I could help get them released sooner by picking up their IDs and bringing them to the 19th. The officer on duty told me that they had changed shifts. None of the officers then on duty knew anything, and the previous shift had not left any information regarding our IDs. Kristie was met with the same reaction at 5:30 that evening. Just for kicks, I decided to call again tonight as I write this. The 20th District's reply was "We don't keep anything like that here. Everything goes with the prisoner in a plastic bag." Since we weren't booked until we got to the 19th, I'm not sure what plastic bag he was referring to. The 19th District left me on hold for a while, and then said they didn't have any IDs.
The disregard for my civil rights I experienced throughout the arrest procedure has been an eye-opening experience for me. Several people have asked why we gave up our IDs in the first place. I can only answer that having never been arrested before, I assumed the police knew what they were doing, and I felt it was in my best interest to cooperate. Unfortunately, the police did know what they were doing, and I must say, they did a pretty good job. I still would never walk away from witnessing police beating someone who is not resisting, but I certainly will know what to expect next time.
Bill Wyman replies:
Thanks for clearing this point up. I originally wrote that the station would not release them--i.e., the women--without some other form of identification, but it got garbled in the editing and I didn't catch it.