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Wally gets arrested

One day soon I'll be working again, yearning for just half an hour of the all-day free time I've been living these last few weeks. For now, though, next month's rent is ready and I have four dollars in my wallet. There's no hurry unless I'm a responsible adult, so there's no hurry. 

While all this time is mine every day, what have I done with it? Nothing, baby. The emptiness of an unemployed man's agenda is underpowering. I lie in bed and eat chocolate frosting sandwiches. I lie in bed and read zines. I lie in bed and do things you'd rather I didn't describe. 

 ♦ ♦ ♦

My plan for today was to go flyering in San Francisco again, "anything legal" and all that rot, but the best-laid plans remained lying in bed. Eventually I moved to the recliner in the living room and laid there for a while. After that I wandered into the bathroom to scrub yesterday's sweat off my face, and then, what the hell, pulled on my pants and took a leisurely walk around beautiful Berkeley. Even brought some of my flyers with me, to make the walk tax-deductible.

Force of habit took me toward Telegraph Ave, where I leaned on a wall, watched the college co-eds, and said howdy to both of the vendors I don't hate.

Then something interrupted my gloriously lazy day.

Two cops on bicycles came buzzing across the sidewalk, missing my shoes by inches. Gosh, I thought, ain't that reckless endangerment? They hadn't even rang their bike-bells in warning. What could be the emergency that requires two policemen on ten-speeds in such a rush?

Deciding to be an investigative reporter, I followed the blur of blue to where the cops got off their bikes, and saw them talking to a street kid. He'd been sitting on his backpack, bothering nobody far as I could tell. I was still too far behind them to hear what the cops were saying, but they must've demanded ID, because the kid reached for his wallet, and handed something to one of the cops. 

Close enough to hear now, what I heard was a cop speaking copspeak into his radio/lapel, reading the kid's driver's license (or training permit; he was awfully young) to someone at Headquarters.

They frisked him, but found no weapons, and then the three of them, two cops and a kid, stood on the sidewalk, talking. The cops were telling each other that the kid was nothing but trouble, but the kid said nothing except to politely answer their occasional questions.

Their police radio/lapels squawked, and word came back that there was a warrant for the kid's arrest, for a number, but I don't know what the number means. All crimes are numbers, you know, but you know something else? 

You can see trouble in some people's eyes, and I saw it in the cops' eyes, but not the kid's. He looked like Wally Cleaver. Looked like he might cry, as they roughly turned him toward the wall, handcuffed and arrested him.

A few minutes later a squad car pulled up, and the kid cooperatively climbed into the back seat, as a cop pushed his head down just like they do on TV.

Through all this, the kid said nothing much, and none of the bystanders said anything at all. I said nothing. There was nothing really to be said. The cops hadn't been especially brutal or even mean, and the kid they'd said was "nothing but trouble" hadn't given them any trouble. 

The bike cops were laughing about it all, and I wanted to ask them what the kid's crime was, but didn't, and there's even an excuse for my silence. Not driving any more, I've let my license expire, so if I'd said anything but "Support your local police," they might've demanded my papers, and I'd have no papers to show except expired papers. Expired papers are probably worse than no papers at all, so might've pushed my head down too, and shoved me into the cop car. as an accessory to the kid.

And the kid — was he a killer, a rapist, even a burglar? Maybe, but I'm skeptical. From his demeanor, most likely he was wanted for vagrancy, or public urination, or possession of an open bottle of beer. Perhaps he'd had a pinch of pot in his pocket on a better day than today. Thank Christ the cops were there, to keep Berkeley safe from the Beaver's big brother.

♦ ♦ ♦

Yeah, I don't like cops. If I need to explain why, then you're hopelessly naïve, but I'll do it, briefly.

I have seen cops using unnecessary force, unnecessary threats, unnecessary intimidation; cops utterly infuriated because someone said "Hey" instead of "Sir" or "Officer"; cops who can't be reasoned with or even spoken to; cops speeding and fighting with other cops; cops beating the hell out of people; and cops simply interacting with people, but treating them like they're not.

You might think that those cops on Telegraph weren't such bad cops, but there were lots of witnesses on the Ave. Maybe those cops are bad cops when there aren't witnesses.

And absolutely, inarguably, those two cops know exactly who Berkeley's worst cops are. Yet even so-called good cops never rat on bad cops, which means they're aiding and abetting the bad cops, so say it with me: All cops are bad cops. 

Even saying the word 'cops' is just a quicker way to say 'bad cops'. 

♦ ♦ ♦

On my walk home, I posted seven flyers — four on telephone poles, two on newsboxes, and one on a bus's back bumper. At home, I ate two vanilla frosting sandwiches, typed all this, and now it's time to sleep. Tomorrow I'm gonna BART into San Francisco and put up a lot of "I'll do anything" flyers. Maybe.

From Pathetic Life #16
Sunday, September 17, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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