Cuisine de Clink

Planning to protest the RNC? Fine dining awaits you at the city's swankiest prisons

It's not different in other cities. Steve Rendall of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) reports that, when arrested after an anti–Clear Channel protest in San Francisco, he was fed solely on stale white bread slathered with rancid peanut butter that made him retch. Pittsburgh protesters jailed for 30 hours after participating in a peaceful march of 5,000 reported that they were fed three meals: "Breakfast consisted of a small bowl of corn flakes with milk; lunch consisted of a very small soggy bologna and American cheese sandwich, two cookies, and an orange drink; dinner consisted of another soggy bologna and American cheese sandwich, one cookie, and an orange drink." The objective of the jailers can't be to ruin your health with a string of bad meals. It's clearly a case of humiliation via food.

illustration: Suzanne Allen

So, is there any way to prepare for your impending culinary deprivation? Among the guides offered online for protesters, United for Peace and Justice strikes a very encouraging note: "For many people of more privileged backgrounds, it is an invaluable education! Even in the post 9-11 climate, arrests for peaceful acts of protest . . . can be a badge of honor!" More realistically, the People's Law Collective collaborates with several other organizations in its online advice to demonstrators: "If you are at risk of arrest, eat a hearty meal. Prison food isn't." The National Lawyers Guild, steadfast to the end, offers what may be the best suggestions of all. Shuck off your personal possessions, expensive clothes, and cache of credit cards and IDs, it says, in its briefing entitled "How Can I Prepare for the Possibility of Arrest?" It goes on to suggest, with admirable economy, "Carry quarters and a phone card for calls, and granola bars, as food is often missed in jail."

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