Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! For now, I’ve returned from my Joiyssey to participate in the "revolution":I’ve been at many Occupy sites across the country:1st in D.C. Freedom Plaza I faced & challenged racism/white supremacy, sexism/patriarchy, classism, heterosexism & eventually was kicked off the island; then I offered workshops as I drove to CA:“Anti-Racism Geared for White Occupiers”; “NO DRONES” "Successes and Pitfalls of OWS"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Danny 2 of ?

Danny pulls up to the curb in front of his restaurant an hour after I arrive. And I arrived 30 minutes late!

I am sitting at one of the plastic tables close to the kitchen, under the large, palm-covered palapa roof where I have a view of the ocean, the kitchen, and the road. The bright sun is intense but in the shade, a cool gentle breeze encircles us.

He strolls over, white t-shirt bulging across his shoulders, mirrored sunglasses perched on his face, as he greets me and sits in typical Mexican fashion with no explanation, no apology for being late.

He casually unfolds the small, morning paper, revealing the back page. There is a bloody photo of a man assassinated, shot in the head; and another of a bloated torso of a man with his limbs – and head – cut off.

I ignore the paper as I greet him and let him know the tamale womon was out of tamales, but I promise to bring some tomorrow.

He finds it necessary to point to the horrible pictures, and then point down the coast towards Lazaro Cardenas and tells me this is what’s happening there, removing his sunglasses, revealing brown eyes with pinprick irises.

I focus my disgust on the policy of putting such graphic photos in the paper, I don’t share my true reactions – desensitizing us, instilling more fear, and inciting more violence. But I talk about protecting the children and other sensitive beings who might stumble across this paper.

He is sniffling a little too, telling me he is getting sick, fighting off something – he threw up last nite after we left the restaurant, and this morning, he’s congested.

We eat. Leslie has made everyone two poached eggs, rice, beans, and glob of queso, and tortillas. First the other workers sit with us. After we put up our plates, Danny and I return to the table to talk.

I ask Danny about his journey from prison release to México. He tells me the day he is scheduled to be released, his paper work gets sent to an INS official who meets with him and tells him his status: illegal, not born in the u.s.a.; three strike felon.

Danny is asked does he want to remain incarcerated, by the INS this time, and fight his deportation orders or leave the country willingly.

Danny has managed to be arrested and jailed three times from the time he turned 18 until 21. What he was caught doing, I don’t ask yet and he doesn’t tell me. But because of our sweet “three strikes” law, he was already facing life in prison at the age of 21.

Until then, Danny was able to shine on his incarceration experiences from juvenile hall to prison, add them to his badges of ‘badness’, boast even he’s been there, done that.

But facing life in prison is not something Danny relishes at 21. While he is awaiting sentencing, a white man, a writer, interviews him in jail, and writes his story for the judge.

Danny has lucked out with both his lawyer, who cares enough about him to have a writer interview him, and the judge, an African-American womon, who clearly sees the morass of his youth and his human potential.  

He is locked up for 7 years, the longest he’s every been incarcerated, with no parole. Not life.

Danny faces the fact that it is the drugs that end him up in jail so many times. It is the drugs that defeat his bids for freedom. It is the drugs that demand he commits so many crimes.

Danny looks at me directly and announces drugs are prevalent and available in jail. He pauses for me to nod. He can get any drug he wants, as easy as when he was on the street, maybe easier, he adds.

He sits there, in his cell, and summons all his will power, which he claims is not very strong, and decides inside himself, he will not, he cannot use any more.

The second thing he realizes is that he cannot hang out with those guys using drugs. So he has to make new friends in jail, men who are not using.

But Danny wants me to start his story when he left jail, since he’s been in México, his life as a free adult man.

So I will.