Getting arrested — a love story

I’ve started putting photos on a site called Photos O’ Mine, if I’ve got them, relating to the stories on this site.

It’s not going well. I think the site is a little screwy. When I click save, fonts change, captions merge or move, pictures disappear. It looks wacky right now, but I’m diligent. Bear with me.

I was putting in pictures for How we met when it occurred to me I never wrote about the arrest.

So far I’ve taken you through the first two days. (See How we met, continued for day 2.)

On the third day there was a Save the Rainforest festival. My new boyfriend and I walked hand in hand and learned about each other. We seemed to be made to be together. At nightfall he said, “People say when you meet the right person you just know. I always thought that was stupid. But I met you, and I just know.”

The fourth day was the protest. More than 1,000 people met at the chain-link fence True Geothermal Energy Co. had erected in the Wao Kele O Puna rainforest. It was the biggest demonstration of its kind.

The first night of our stay we had ridden over to see where the demonstration would be. Mr. Blue Eyes had hopped out of the truck bed first and approached the fence. When he put his hands on it, he made like it was electrified. ‘Note to self: gorgeous eyes, environmentally proactive and funny.’

The protesters were not anti-geothermal power. It’s in fact a clean source of energy. The gripe was that True had bought different land for its drill site, but Mount Kilauea erupted and buried that site in hard, black lava. The allegation was that True then made an illegal land swap, taking without permission the last lowlevel rainforest in North America, which was also sacred religious ground to the natives.

So there we were, drowning in a tie-dyed throng in an emotional embrace, watching people squeeze one-at-a-time through a break in the fence. From there they were handcuffed, identified and put on a bus.

Hundreds were children. My boyfriend tried to point this out to me, but he choked on the words with tears. ‘Note to self: senstive. Take this one home.’

We took our turn as accused trespassers, then took our turn to reject the charge, based on our being on public land. Into the bus we went, joining the singing, “This is land is your land; this land is my land….”

One hundred thirty-three people were arrested. We didn’t fit in the Hilo jail, so they put us in a storage garage.

We sat on the cement floor and discussed our strategy of solidarity. By law, I learned, they had to arraign us within a certain amount of time. We had the right, the leader said, to remain incarcerated until that time.

With our numbers, this was impossible. They would have to release us until our court date. We were instructed to refuse to leave. “When they hand you your ticket, don’t reach for it,” King Hippie said. “Do not walk out of here.”

As luck would have it (or because I’m little, and they didn’t want to start with a child), I was the first one they went after.

I didn’t take the ticket, so they shoved it down my shirt. I wouldn’t stand up, so two large men scooped me by my elbows and knees and carried me out of the building, unceremoniously dumping me on the grass.

This was met by wild cheering. I couldn’t see anyone, though, because of the bright lights: the crowd outside included news cameras.

Eventually we were all out — after a few oustings people gave up the solidarity plan — and back at the Big Island Rainforest Action Group camp.

I had come under ridicule for showing up to an environmental action camping trip with a battery-operated television (I didn’t want to miss General Hospital,) but was suddenly popular. As many as could gathered around to watch my squinting form being dumped on the grass.

I had about seven rolls of photos from this adventure, but they belonged to the newspaper, and I didn’t get to keep them.

I kept something else, though: a blue-eyed, funny, sensitive man and a new understanding of solidarity.

link to photos

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6 Responses to “Getting arrested — a love story”

  1. gunky Says:

    it’s fun getting to know you.
    that’s an awesome last line in this post.

  2. cb Says:

    This is one of your best stories. I felt like I was right there with you.

  3. Mike Says:

    What a great story…I’m adding “environmentalist protests” to my list of good places for my daughters to find the right man.

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