June 24th, 2018
Kenosha is not an interesting town, not even in the best of circumstances. At 3:00 in the morning, it is utterly desolate. Karin and I were parked in the nearly empty juror’s parking lot at the county jail. We were waiting for somebody we loved to walk out the back door. This particular door is drab and grey, and it is the only door through which inmates are released. If a person did not know it was there, it would never be noticed. Perhaps it is meant to be that way. The release door at the Carson County Detention Center in Las Vegas is just the same. These doors are like wormholes that discharge beings from another world.
We came to the jail with two things: a fully charged cell phone for our inmate, and her beloved border collie. I walked around the darkened parking lot with the dog while we waited. Karin sat back in the car, and said a rosary. I could see the clock at Metra station at the end of the street. The hands moved so slowly.
The only activity while we waiting was from the cops working third shift. I half expected that one of them would come over to our car and ask what we were doing there. Nobody gave us a second glance. Apparently, this ungodly hour was the standard release time for Kenosha County. Why? I have no idea. I suspect there is no good reason for the police to release people at 3:00 AM. They do it simply because they can.
Another car pulled into the lot. It was a white Lincoln. A young black woman got out and looked around. She seemed confused. Finally, she asked me if the grey door was the correct door for picking up her brother. I told her it was. It was oddly comforting that she was there too. Misery loves company.
I sat down on the curb. The dog sat down next to me. I listened to the birds and watched the wind rustle through the leaves of the trees. I had time to think, and to remember.
I remembered a year ago, when I had been busted for engaging in civil disobedience at Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas. I spent the day in custody at the CCDC. They finally got tired of me there, and I was released, along with about a dozen other guys, at about 9:00 PM. I remembered the one-way exit door. It was the strangest feeling to leave the dim confines of the jail, and then suddenly be under the glaring neon lights of the Golden Nugget Casino.
I was fortunate that night. One of the other peace activists was waiting in his car to take myself and a couple other troublemakers away from that depressing place. Marcus Pegasus whisked us to a Salvadoran restaurant for hot food and cold beer. It is a joy to have somebody there when you get out of the slammer. Jail is scary. A friend who is there for you is a great comfort.
I remembered that at least one person who was released with me was a homeless guy, or at least he appeared to be. He had nobody there for him that night. He had nobody to care for him. He had no meal waiting for him. He had no place to stay that night.
That haunts me.
At 3:30 AM, our loved one came through the door. The dog ran up to her. They both got into the car.
We drove home.