On Monday, 24 singing protestors were arrested for interrupting a foreclosure sale inside Bronx Supreme Court. While 23 of them were released after a few hours, a 56-year-old unemployed woman named Madeline Nelson was held for over 24 hours…and she has no idea why.
Runnin’ Scared spoke to Nelson, a regular of the Occupy Wall Street and People’s Bailout movements, about her experience.
You were singing in the court, just like the other protestors, but they were released after a few hours and you were held overnight, do you know the reasoning behind that?
I have no idea. The guard who arrested me was the captain of the group, and he did seem particularly angry compared to the other guards. He actually told me “you’re going through the system” as he made the arrest.
You were held separately from the other protestors from the get go, right?
Correct, they took me to a jail cell in the courtroom, where I was held for five hours. Then they put me through Bronx central booking and I was held there until 6pm the next day.
Did you ask why you were held overnight and why you were singled out? Do you recall doing anything differently than the other protestors?
I asked the guards and never got an answer. As for what I did in the court, I didn’t do anything different, I stood up and sung like the other protestors, perhaps it’s because I was the last one to sing and the nearest to the captain, so I stood out?
What was the experience, being held overnight in jail?
It was an eye opening experience. One of the correctional officers–the nice one–told me and several other ladies to be careful because the cells have been overly crowded. These accommodations were originally built for 8 to 12 people, but I was told cops are now arresting over 80 women a day.
So was the overcrowdedness a problem, were you worried for your safety?
No, I actually made some friends in there. It was very eye opening to see how many people were in there for these very minor, petty violations. One woman was in there because she had an open container. It just seems like they’re really busting women these days, especially women of color.
What did they charge you with?
In the end, after all that, they only charged me with disorderly conduct and trespass, just a violation, not a misdemeanor. I had a clean record previously, so I was held overnight for a violation.
Will this experience stop you from participating in more protests and movements?
No, if anything I’m more inspired, because the system is a mess.