Freedom of the Press #13
Sojourn to Sacramento
Outpost of Freedom
April 11, 2017
This past Friday, April 7, I returned home from a week long visit the Sacramento County Jail. I was in jail based upon a Warrant for my arrest for failing to appear at a show cause hearing on March 10. The Warrant and what led up to it will be the subject of a future article.
I am writing this article to explain a system that, quite frankly, ignores our rights, especially when only accused of a crime. It will give a little insight into life behind bars, at least those of the Sacramento County Jail. I can’t say that this compares to the treatment that those currently held in jail in Oregon (Jason Patrick) or Nevada (many still innocent people) are receiving, but, perhaps it will help to understand that they are being treated similarly, or worse.
It will also explain what I have gone through. Now, when I go to Court in Portland, next month, I will be entering the courtroom on the terms that I had to establish. Fortunately, though without a plan going in, the final result is that I achieved a bit more than I could have expected, thanks to Judge Anna Brown.
Around noon on March 30, 2017, a nice, sunny, warm day, here in Los Molinos, California, I received a phone call from FBI Special Agent Catalano. This was the fourth call he had made to me, since back in January when he first provided me a copy from the US Shyster demanding that I cease and desist publishing information obtained from the United States v. Ammon Bundy, et al, discovery evidence. He began by saying, I am here in Los Molinos with the US Marshals, and I suppose you know what this is about.” About that time, my wife buzzed me and told me that lunch was ready.
I then asked if it was to arrest me. He affirmed that that was the purpose. I asked if I could have about an hour to explain to my family what was occurring. After conferring with someone on his end, he said that would be okay. I told him that I would call him when I was ready. I must say that I honestly believe, because of the tone of his voice, that SA Catalano did not enjoy his task
I called my team and gave them the simple message, “I am going to be arrested and transported to Sacramento.” Please post that on my Facebook pages.” I told them that there was no more to report, at this time. Then, I went to the house, planning to do a bit more preparation, after I had eaten.
As I sat down to eat lunch, the task that I had anticipated, though somehow hoped would not occur, became reality. My wife and children know what I do, but our agreement is that my work stays in my office, and out of the house. They had no idea what I had been writing, but that was about ready to explode, big time, as I began, “I am going to be arrested within an hour.”
I tried to explain the background, and that the principles that I held so dearly had led to this situation. My wife, however, was distraught and my children simply confused. In the ensuing turmoil, I did not make adequate preparation. I did not fulfill my plan to make a list of phone numbers. And, as I have since learned, it would also be wise to take a fully charged cell phone, and some cash, if you are being “self-arrested”. These exigencies will be explained, where appropriate.
I did empty my pockets. I had only my reading glasses, a bandana, a cigarette lighter, cigarettes, and a crush hat. That, of course, besides the clothes that I was wearing.
Fully prepared for what was to come, I called SA Catalano and told him, “I’m ready. I will meet you on the road and I will be unarmed.” Then, I left my home, went to the road and walked down about a hundred feet, out of sight of my wife and children, and stood with my hands at my side.
A few minutes later, two vehicles came down our country road. They stopped about 200 feet from me. Then, they moved, slowly, in my direction. They stopped, again, and two armed US Marshals, automatic weapons, body armor, and fully black (that used to be the color for the bad guys, and, I presume, unchanged.). They stood, cautiously, by their vehicles and motioned for me to come toward them. I did so with my arms well out to the side and my palms facing toward them. When I got adjacent to the vehicle, one of the Marshals told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back, I did so. I asked, “Are you going to take me all of the way to Sacramento with my hands behind my back?” Another Marshall told him to “five-point” me, so even before the “cuffs” were put on, a waist-chain was wrapped around my waist. Then, they cuffed one hand, inserted the other cuff through a slot in the waist-chain, then cuffed the second hand. They frisked me, but took nothing from me. Next came the leg irons. They are larger in circumference than the handcuffs and have a chain between the two “bracelets”, about 2 feet long. I was then placed in one of the vehicles.
From there, we went into Los Molinos proper, near the fire station. I got out of the vehicle and they rearranged themselves, now, the four Marshals went to their respective four vehicles. I was thinking, holy crap, four marshals, four vehicles, and that doesn’t include Catalano and another agent in a beige FBI vehicle. The marshals commenced to get their equipment into their respective vehicles and then began the motorcade.
The Marshal who drove me down to Sacramento said that he would let me have a cigarette before we reached Sacramento, and he was good to his word. After about an hour, I asked if I could have my cigarette, and he said that I could. So, with hands cinched tightly to my waist, I managed to get the lighter out of my pants pocket. Then, I pulled a single cigarette from my shirt pocket, lit it, and slipped the lighter into the shirt pocket. To light the cigarette, I had to bend forward so that I could hold the lighter close enough to the cigarette to affect the desired exercise. The same process was necessary to smoke, so I would often leave the cigarette dangling from my mouth rather than contort myself to remove, and later, replace it.
Just over a third of the cigarette smoked, it fell from my hands onto the floor of the vehicle. There was no way that I could pick it up; I didn’t know what to do. He told me to step on it and light another one, which I did. When I finished that second cigarette, he told me to throw it on the floor and step on it, too. That became my last cigarette for seven days.
During the two-hour drive, there was quite a bit of conversation. The Marshal’s name was Rob (LNU, since he chose not to give it). He told me that Catalano had told them about me, that I was peaceful and simply a writer. He also mentioned that Catalano had told them that I had written kindly about him during our previous meetings. That sure took the edge off.
Then, we got into a discussion of my “crime”. Possible contempt of court, failure to appear at a show cause hearing, though nothing of violence. He suggested that I would probably be home by dinnertime, and called the US Marshal Office in Sacramento to see if they could arrange my hearing, as soon as possible. We were almost to Sacramento when they called back and said that my hearing would be the next day, Friday, at 2:00 in the afternoon. Well, there went my dinner at home, though I really was not prepared for what followed at the hearing.
As a bit of a side note, I asked Rob why they chose to drive the 120 miles, not even knowing if I was at home. He said that they knew I was at home. This got me to thinking, how could they know, for sure. Years ago, when I had an outstanding warrant in Florida, there was a phone call, I answered, then silence and click. Less than five minutes later, the police kicked in my door. A logical method is to call and see who answers. I did receive a phone call at 10:04 am. It was from someone that I haven’t heard from in a while — back when there was a bit of controversy. The timing would be about right, so I will patiently wait for that person, who I am sure will read this, calls and provides an explanation — or not.
The Booking Report shows that I was arrested at 12:15. I was taken directly to the Sacramento County Jail. I arrived there shortly after 2:00 and began the “Intake” process. First, they took my personal property, less clothing. Apparently, the US Marshals have to initiate the process, so, they took my belt, shoelaces, cigarettes, lighter, glasses, and my papers (the entire Freedom of the Press series and corresponding Court documents from Oregon). Then I was moved into a room with a bunch of other people. I just waited. . It is at this point that the 5-point” manacles are removed, with no replacement. Hands free, at least for the time being.
During this rather lengthy wait, some people began to discuss their charges. I was asked, and I stated that I was a federal prisoner. Well, that got the interest going, so I explained the circumstances that led to my presence in their midst. There were about thirty people in the room we were in, and only room for about five to lay down to sleep. There were a couple of guys trying to sleep on a bench and one of them looked over, seemingly irritated by the noise that was keeping him awake. We will get back to this particular person, later, though I don’t recall any direct conversation with him at that time.
Next, we were shuffled into “booking”, where our pictures were taken and wristbands made. This would be the official time of booking, and is shown as 19:09 (7:09 pm). So, that is five hours squandered due to the inefficiency of government. All of it in very uncomfortable circumstances. However, we are not even close to, well, being inmates/detainees. That won’t happen until we have a cell and a bunk. And, I was advised that the US Marshals would pick me up at 7:00 am.
Eventually, we were moved into a room where you are asked your size, then thrown a bundle and told to change into those wonderful orange suits. I didn’t know how they determined size, so the guy throwing the clothes said, “Two”, and tossed me my bundle. In the next room, we undressed, transferred all of our clothing into paper bags, and donned our new apparel. It was then that I realized that I was a “three”, though I remained dressed as a “two” during my entire stay.
Then, back to a holding cell. Finally, we are moved to semi-permanent quarters, 7th floor, West, pod 8, cell 14. A rather luxurious cell, or at least mattress, compared to my next two “rooms”. This was about 2:00 am. So, we can see that there was nearly 12 hours of “Intake” before I was finally confirmed as ‘incarcerated’.
Now, breakfast is served in our room at 5:00, though, since they don’t want you to miss the wonderful fare, they wake you between 4:30 and 4:45. I do not function too well with only three hours sleep, especially when there is no activity taking place, except, well, a healthy dose of boredom. There wasn’t enough time to really get back to sleep before my 7:00 escorted excursion to the federal building, just across the street from the jail, so I formalized the boredom by simply sitting on my bunk.
Speaking of my bunk, the walls, floor, and bed are either cold painted concrete or cold painted metal. The room is about 12′ x 8′. The bunks (lower and upper) are across the rear 8′ wall and about 3 1/2 feet wide. Then, you have a fine table, mounted securely to the wall, and finally, the kitchen/commode combo. When the commode is flushed, it is loud enough for you to close your eyes and think that you are at Niagara Falls. However, the sink has a cold and, well, ‘hot’, button. Each, when depressed, provides about ten seconds of flow. If you push the ‘hot’ button four or five times, you get what might be called extremely warm water.
There are two tiers, upper and lower. Each tier has 20 cells, totaling 40 cells, each with 2 prisoners. The open area has about 12 tables, most seating 4 people, and some seating 6. However, they are not used for eating, as eating is done in the cells. A serious lack of either foresight or application.
There are two telephones at each of three locations. Supposedly, two phones are for the “Norths” (Northern California Mexicans) and three for the Crips (Negros and other non-whites). However, and here is where White Privilege comes into play, the remaining phone is used by mostly non-whites. It seems that Whites are privileged if they get to use a phone. However, some of the Crips allowed me, to use their phone, once they were finished using it.
Phone calls can go up to 20 minutes. We are allowed out for an hour, twice a day, in the pod area, So, that means each phone, unless someone has a short conversation, usually handles only 3 or 4 calls. That, then, allows about 48 calls per day for 80 people.
Now, I was trying to comfort my wife, make contact with close friends and my team, and find an attorney. Considering that I was a detainee and not a convict, it would seem that access would be more readily available. Instead, under those conditions, it was quite frustrating. Persistence, however, finally got me to the point where I could contact some people that were very helpful in arranging things, contacting attorneys, etc. To them, my undying gratitude.
However, to put a bit of perspective on this whole things, when I went to my hearing for the Eastern District of California, I met my Federal Public Defender, Doug Beevers. His words, as well as mine, fell on deaf ears to the Magistrate Edmund Brennan. I was not released under unsecured bond, as was expected. Instead, I was held in custody pending transfer to Oregon. That order indicated that I would be available for the hearing on April 25, 2017. That would have been my 26th day in custody.
Believing jailhouse rumors, it appeared that I would be dieseled. Ironically, Pahrump was a weigh-stop in the western states. So, when I got out, I spoke with Jon Ritzheimer to compare notes. Jon was arrested on January 26; Moved to Oklahoma on February 13; Moved to Pahrump, Nevada from the 14th to the 19th; and, Booked into Oregon on February 19.
So, Jon’s sojourn was 25 days. My sojourn, as determined by Magistrate Brennan, would have been 26 days. There can be little doubt that the intention was to diesel me as they did Jon. However, as you will see, that is not what was intended, though that will be explained in a subsequent article.
The problem, however, is contacting an attorney, even though only accused, not even convicted. How can one seek “assistance of Counsel” (4th Amendment) when one can’t even contact his Court appointed counsel? Mr. Beevers could not call me in jail. We could only talk if he came to visit. And, there is just about none of that, until things started to change. This, too, will be discussed in its proper place.
We are also given a packet containing essentials. This includes a comb, toothpaste (I think — it smells like toothpaste), and what they call a toothbrush. The toothbrush is rather novel. It reminds me of the tip of a cake-frosting nozzle, though it is plastic and slides over your finger tip. On one side, it has a ridge topped by some bristles that are at least a 16th of an inch long. However, in my seven days, I never did master the art of brushing with that object that reminds me of a Cracker-Jacks prize. I simply brushed my teeth with my finger.
There are a few good people that I should name. The head trustee at 5W[est], pod 3, is a Negro named, or, well, answers to “12 Gauge”, nickname simply “12”. When I was quite far behind in phone calls, he arranged for me to have 45 minutes outside of my cell, with access to the phones. This allowed me to almost catch up after my White Privilege failed me.
Then, there was another White guy named Chet. He was extremely helpful in understanding just how the ‘system’ in the jail structure (prisoner side) works. I got to know the ‘rules’ and was able to get along with the rest of the population without creating ‘offenses’.
Then, there was Dustin. He was my cellmate for all but my first night in jail. We became good friends, partially because I did what I could to ease his withdrawal from heroin, and partially because he seemed to see me as a father figure and, hopefully, he will now see that he has to grab life by the, well, you know, rather than let life grab him by the same means. There will be one more, mentioned later, in its proper place.
The daily routine is breakfast at 4:00 am; Lunch at 11:00 am, and dinner at 4:00 pm, or thereabouts. Now, I have always had an aversion to eating something I could not identify. BTW, I lost about 5 pounds, so, perhaps, some may want to consider this route if they want to cut some weight off. Unlike clinics for that purpose, this is at taxpayers’ expense.
Between breakfast and lunch, and then after dinner, are the two “Day Room” one-hour periods in which you can make phone calls. Unfortunately, only once did that period overlap normal working hours. This makes it difficult to contact the attorney’s office, at least until later when I got his cell phone number.
That’s about it for the daily routine. Now, let’s see what it takes to check out of the Graybar Hotel.
At about 2:00 pm, Friday, April 6, I joined a telephonic Release Hearing, before Judge Anna Brown, and included Pamela Holsinger, US Shyster’s Office; Susan Wilk, Federal Public Defender for the purpose of the Release Hearing; Michael Rose, Federal Public Defender, for all other purposes; and, Doug Beevers, California Federal Public Defender, and able counsel during my stay in Sacramento. Present in the Courtroom were some journalists, including Maxine Bernstein of Oregon Live.
Regardless of the Eastern District Magistrate Brennan’s effort to retain me in custody for another 24 days, we were down to obtaining my release. I was reluctant to sign the “Appearance Bond” and the “Notice to Defendant Being Released” because, well, those forms are for Defendants, which I am not. So, it was determined and agreed to that henceforth I would be referred to as “Person” or “Respondent”, thereby not subjecting me to the jurisdiction of the Court by chicanery. It was further determined that my appearance at the May 9 jurisdiction hearing would not be an admission to the jurisdiction of the Court. That was so agreed, I will be present in Portland on May 9, to argue jurisdiction, though I will enter the Courtroom under my conditions, as stated in writing. And, since March 10, when I “failed to appear”, my sole purpose was enter the Courtroom under those conditions. However, absent my stay in jail in Sacramento, I was at a loss as to how I could achieve that objective. Now, it is a done deal.
The appropriate paperwork was completed, and Mr. Beevers brought them to the jail for my signature. They were then sent to Portland, approved by Judge Brown, entered in the record, and the “Order Setting Conditions of Release” was transmitted to the Sacramento County Sheriff.
Less than an hour after signing the papers, as I sat on my concrete bunk, the loudspeaker announced, “Hunt, grab your blankets and towel and go to Control”. Control, by the way, is outside of the pod, between the 2 Pod and the 3 Pod. Any time you leave your pod, or return to your pod, you check in with someone behind a darkened window, giving name and purpose. My purpose was release, and this occurred about 5:00 pm.
From the pod, I went down to the first floor and a holding cell. There were nearly 30 people there when I arrived. Most already had their civilian clothes on — no more orange suits. I found that the next step would be the return of our civilian clothes, and waited, anxiously, to get back into something that I chose to wear. And, I waited. As I did, more people entered the cell.
One of those who had entered the cell shortly before I did said, “Gary, you’re here, too!” I looked around and saw a face that I had seen seven days before in intake. We had not really met, back then. Bob had been trying to sleep, though he had little choice but to listen as I explained my ‘crime’ to those that had asked. He had a good recall of names, and it was quite a shock to be recognized under the circumstances. We talked and he had a phone in property. I asked if I could call my attorney with his phone, once we were on the street. He willingly agreed, and we continued talking, wasting away the time, as best we could.
Then, a small group, about 15 people, was called into the next room. About 6:30, a bunch of paper bags filled with clothing, each having a name and number on them, were unceremoniously thrown into the room. A scramble ensued, each trying to find his clothes and change into them. I found mine, and trying desperately to find a place to stand to shed the orange and get back into my own clothes, I doffed the jail clothes, including underwear, and returned to some semblance of humanity with my real clothes now covering my body. We also received debit cards for any commissary funds still on our accounts, and any cash taken during booking.
This led us to believe that our time was short. However, it was well after 9:00 when they began calling the newly clothed, ex-prisoners, into the next room in small groups. In that room we were forced to stand and face the wall as one at a time, we were called to a workstation. There, we had to provide electronic thumbprints, instantly compared to those on file from our booking, and then allow the guard to compare our face with those pictures taken at the same time. We then had our personal property bags handed to us, not to be opened, and sent back to the wall.
Free, at last
After our group had all been electronically approved, we were told to go into a small room, with electronic doors. Once we were in that room, the door back to the cells was closed. Then, the door on the other side opened into the lobby of the Sheriffs jail, and we were told to go directly outside. My attorney had told me that there would be pay phones at this point, and that I could call him collect. Well, there were no pay phones, nor had there been an opportunity to use them, as we were shuffled out the door and onto the sidewalk.
It was raining. There was no cover over the doors. The rain was falling just a foot from the door and splashing on the windows. We had been cast onto the rainy street like stray animals — and this is how the Sacramento County Sheriff treats those who are “innocent until proven guilty”.
Once on the street, and free, again, I opened my property bag, grabbed my crush hat (glad now that I had worn it to be arrested), put it on my head and then grabbed my shoelaces. Still standing in the rain, I watched Bob thread his shoelaces, trying to keep them flat. However, we are out. And that is good enough to weather the weather.
I pulled out my cigarettes, offered him one, and we smoked our first smoke in a week. Then, we made plans to find a pay telephone. Well, after walking about four or five blocks and finding nothing open, he suggested we go to “Old Sacramento”, which are some nineteenth century buildings about twenty feet below the current street level and protected by a levy. We passed a rather noisy bar, not suitable for conversation, and then found an eatery called Fanny Ann’s. It was now about 10:15 pm. We decide first on some real food. Bob had no money or commissary, so I used my card to buy two large blue cheese-bacon burgers and a couple of sodas. We sat down to eat and contemplate our next move. Bob managed to borrow a phone from the bartender and called his mother to pick him up. I asked if I could go along and use her phone, though as we talked about it, the conversation changed to him getting his car and driving me the 120 plus miles to my home. I would give him $120.00 and the rest of what was on the debit card, and the deal was struck.
My team had arranged for an Uber driver, though they had expected me to be out before 9:00 and arranged for about that time for me to be picked up. My point of contact was Mr. Beevers, my attorney. I found later that he had waited at the door until just after nine O’clock, and then gone home. If I called him, he would have to call the Uber driver. If the Uber driver did not want to make the long trip, after the scheduled time, it would be a start over, and I just wanted to sleep in my own bed, for a change.
So, Bob drove me to my home in Los Molinos. We had some good conversation — not jail talk, as before, and parted as friends sometime after midnight — but I was finally home.