Pittsburgh, PA

Rachel Lange is arrested.

Last Thursday night, a friend and I decided to check out a peace march we'd seen on the news. It was totally spontaneous action--hundreds of people had somehow come together to walk through the streets and protest the war. It wasn't officially permitted-- permission is not easy to get for such things here, but the mayor had given his unofficial consent.

After a small goose-chase, my friend and I found it, 10 minutes before it ended. By this time, everyone was walking on the sidewalk except for a growing number of police, and the hundreds had dwindled to about two. We walked with them for a little while, until the procession turned down a side street. It stopped, to allow the second half of the group to cross with the light (no jaywalking!). In retrospect, we must've been led to that street--a whole block with nothing but a stone wall.

Something seemed to happen, and I got pushed against the wall, separated from my friend. Then I saw cops--cops in riot gear, cops with really big guns, cops with dogs.

There were cops in front of me on the sidewalk, cops behind me, and cops on the street, pushing me against the wall. They started beating people. They were yelling obscenities. I tried to leave, but the crowd was being pushed against the wall. I saw a boy, who yelled something like “Stop beating her!”, and was pulled out of the crowd and beaten over the head with a night stick. I met a girl later, whose nose had been broken against the pavement when the cops threw her down. The ACLU observer got her elbow sprained when they beat her.

We were all rounded up and arrested. 122 of us. I heard later that the cops had prevented anyone who looked older than 30 from continuing to march. That there were federal marshals there, who had given the order to arrest everyone, even those who weren't causing any trouble.

I spent the next 30 hours in jail, being called a coward, an asshole, a fucker, a traitor to my country, ungrateful to the troops dying for my freedom, a bitch, a lesbian, a pinko (yeah--really, a pinko!), etc., while various officials tried to get us all processed as slowly as possible. I overheard how they went out of their way, breaking even their own rules, to punish us, the 'real' criminals. No kidding. I had the misfortune to get a right-wing veteran for a magistrate. He set my bail at $1000. I later met a crack whore, whose bail was the same. My father and sister waited 7 hours to try to pay it. “You know why you're here?” the police said to them, “Because your daughter committed a crime!” When they pointed out the whole 'innocent until proven guilty' thing, they were threatened with arrest.

I am charged with two misdemeanors. Obstructing Traffic and Failure to Disperse.

I don't know what is going to happen. The charges could be dismissed. The maximum is 3 years for one, 2 for the other.

The lawyers told us to lay low. They said it would be a public relations fight as much as anything. I figured I'd tell you all, and if you had the inclination, time, and resources, you could spread the word. Write to the editor. Tell somebody. If you have any questions, just ask.






Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents