Others have described the dull depressing dehumanization of Rikers Island process, so I’ll skip that part. We had probably less than the standard amount of hassle, since on Sunday morning there aren’t that many visitors and even the whole routine couldn’t take that long with fewer people. We also lucked into a relatively cool day.
Hugs and as much physical contact as we could get away with.
Mark was very interested in what is happening with Summer Disobedience School and Negesti’s and Richie’s account of the National Gathering. He particularly liked that the Philly Quakers gave occupiers a safe haven in which to camp, free of police harassment. He wondered whether something like that could happen in New York, if there is a sympathetic church that could provide space for a communal, mutual aid experience.
We passed on regards from a number of people, including Nathan, Beau, Billy, Jack and Monica. I brought some books. (If this comes up for our community again—no hardcovers are allowed in, and no more than 4 per visit.) Mark talked about the free library he’s got going in the common room, that books do go to other prisoners. He said he’s been drawing strength from autobiographies of Emma Goldman and Peter Kropotkin. He’s also looking at the examples of jail time they and other Anarchist icons did at the time.
Mark still looks very well, although he told us the doctors noted he’s losing muscle mass at this point. He was very excited about the prospect of being out in just over a week. He speculated that the doctors want him out of there before anything goes seriously awry physically. Mark thinks they will send him out very early—like 2 or 3 in the morning. He also thinks he’ll be put on the bus to Queens Plaza. All this needs to be confirmed so there can be a proper welcome!
Mark talked about how hungry he is now, and his desire to eat “everything vegan” as soon as he gets out. (Let’s confab about what would be the best way to support him back into eating and helping him build his strength back up!). He also described the routine with not only the doctor and RN (daily checks, pinprick to test blood sugar) but also with the prison psychologists, even though he has repeatedly refused. We wondered if that was even right and legal. They are liberals, Mark notes, and seem quite interested and supportive of Occupy, but somewhat clueless (for instance, “why did you stop occupying, wish you-all were still doing this!”). Mark affirmed once again the meaningfulness of his hunger strike in the face of the powers that be controlling virtually every other aspect of his life while in jail, that he is still resisting, still making a statement.
“Gotti” is still being moved from cell to cell with Mark, and he’s still not comfortable with “Gotti”’s questions and overtures of outside friendship. Mark also described the pattern of fighting and instigation to fighting, and how counter-productive it is, forcing people to do even more jail time.
Mark shared a self-realization that he doesn’t do well in a jail setting, compared to what he’s heard from others and read about. He’s looking at a goal of “no more open cases” in the Occupy year.
As with all these visits, the end came too soon and way too abruptly. It’s encouraging to know that if all goes as anticipated, we’ll all be seeing Mark in less than a week.