homeWERQ! under arrest from Wil Fisher

March 12, 2010

On the morning of April 7th, 2003, a group of 52 anti-war protesters (including the legendary group, Glamericans) convened in front of the Carlyle Group, a war-profiteering company, to speak out against companies pushing for the start of the Iraq war. The Glamericans, who were known to mix glamour, glitter and theatrics with their activism, had met the previous week to plan their action and had decided they would dress up as bourgeois society ladies and gents and pretend to be pro-war activists with chants like “More Blood for Oil!” They had just gotten started when the cops dressed in riot gear surrounded and moved in on them, cuffing them with zip ties and loading them into padded wagons. After a long day in jail, all the protesters were released and in the court dates that followed, charges were dropped against them. The arrests were the only illegal thing that happened that morning, and with the help of representation by Emery Celli Brinkerhoff Abady along with the Center for Constitutional Rights the protesters sued the NYPD.  After battling it out in the courts for over four years, the protesters were awarded a whopping $2,007,000 (which also went to cover legal expenses). Suddenly, some of New York’s most radical bohemians were $18k richer! And although they didn’t manage to stop the Iraq war from happening, at least they had won this battle. Wil Fisher asks three NYC night life celebs and Glamericans members Machine Dazzle, Sylvia London (wink!) and Linda Simpson what they remember most from that fateful day.

Wil Fisher (WF): First things first, what were you wearing at the anti-war protest on April 7, 2003?

Machine Dazzle (MD): I was wearing billionaire cowgirl drag:  black pumps, black skirt (or was it trousers?) black Chanel Jacket with a blouse, a faux mink stole a bandana ( i forget what color)  )with a big black cowgirl hat on top! Sun glasses of course, and earrings…pearls I think.

Sylvia London (SL): I was wearing a business suit paired with a long faux fur and some simple eye make-up with my hair slicked back. Not really full drag, but very lady boi/lesbian chic.

Linda Simpson (LS): I was in full drag trying to look like an Uptown lady in a Chanel-like gold jacket and matching skirt. Very Madison Avenue!

WF: What were you feeling when you were being arrested that morning?

MD: I felt shocked and powerless over my arrest.  It was also surreal, I couldn’t believe I was getting arrested with no cop telling me what I did wrong, no rights, no phone call, no nothing… when I did nothing wrong!!! They just hand cuffed us and put us in the wagon.

SL: I felt PO’ed! I was so shocked what was happening could happen in America- let alone NYC. Some of the cops were really rude and made negative comments about my “gender non-conformity.” The zip ties really hurt too!

LS: Along with the rest of the group I was initially in shock because we weren’t doing anything wrong.  Then the realization sunk in that we were being persecuted because of our political beliefs.  That was pretty creepy.

WF: What memory sticks out for you the most from that day?

MD: What sticks out most is my time in the cell with Linda Simpson.  We were in drag, so they didn’t mix us with the men. They gave us our own cell in the women’s section of the jail.  I remember sitting there chatting and relieving myself in front of her… At one point there were children and their mothers walking by our cell peering through the bars on their way to their own cell!! What could they have possibly done, we gasped? We found out later they were anti abortionists who had blocked an entrance to a clinic.

SL: In the padded wagon I marveled at the diversity of the group I was with. Linda Simpson sat next to a short, old, radical Jewish couple, and Machine sat next to a bearded woman from Circus amok! Gays, straights, freaks and geeks all busted just for voicing our opinion.  I actually felt really proud to be in that padded wagon.

LS: As me and the other arrestees were being led to the paddy wagons in handcuffs, some of the protesters who had not been arrested were yelling their support and advising us to only provide the police with our names, addresses and ages.  I dramatically threw my head back and hollered, “I refuse to give my age.”  It got a big laugh.

WF: And finally, what did you do with your settlement money?!

MD: I paid off some old debt and then did some shopping!  I got my first Ipod and I went to Marc Jacobs! Yay!

SL: I paid off some bills, put some in savings, and went on a gorgeous trip to Napa Valley and down the California coast in a red convertible! It was fab!

LS: I’m not sure!  I sort of whittled it away on miscellaneous expenses.  But it definitely helped my economic situation and it seemed like a fair payment for having my rights so trampled by the police.


One comment

  1. I love my radical sisters!

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