I’m a Bail Disruptor for The Bail Project, but I really consider myself a Freedom Fighter. Cause we’re fighting for freedom for individuals who can’t fight for their own freedom, who can’t afford their freedom. So right now in Cleveland it’s just like a military base almost, is how I would describe it.
On a regular day I would wake up, go into the jails, pick those who are eligible for our program and I post those bails. It’s a daily routine and it was interrupted that day because of some cops. Can I have my ID back please? I was in The Justice Center until maybe 3:30 4 going through the docket sitting in the courtroom with a few of the judges, prosecutors, and public defenders to see all the folks who were eligible to get bailed or who received personal bails so we can post bails but also provide advocacy for the folks who got personal bails who may need assistance. I did two virtual interviews with two individuals who received bail. They were charged with rioting and these were the two individuals that ultimately we want to bail out. So Kareem was still there doing interviews. I left.
We’re now under curfew so the curfew states that you know if you’re not a downtown resident pretty much you can’t come into downtown but if you are a downtown resident you can you can leave out of downtown and return if you’re going to get like maybe essential items or going to work. I had my friend go get me some Chick-fil-A. I met her outside of the perimeter. I rode over the bridge, rolled right past the police, the same officers eventually that ended up stopping me. Talked to her for maybe about ten minutes. Then I proceeded to come back home.
So as I’m riding past the perimeter again the officer states that, hey I need to see your ID. And I yelled to him, I live downtown! And I’m in mid-stride like pedaling. A state trooper eventually he got behind me. Once I got midway over the bridge maybe about five six cars like sort of pinned me in. It was maybe a total of 15 officers there that stopped me. Like all white officers too, just to say that. But uh first they asked me for my ID. I honestly I didn’t want to give him my ID. Like I didn’t commit a crime. I shouldn’t have to show who I am or anything. I’m a downtown resident that’s following the law and doing what I’m supposed to do. So I immediately became frustrated.
Like we had an exchange of words and one of the officers said I was disrespectful and I had to explain like there’s no crime in speaking your mind. That’s my First Amendment right is freedom of speech. It’s a bit of anxiety and frustration there especially with the the climate that we’re in right now. But uh I gave him my ID eventually. It shows my address, it shows that I stay downtown. Instead of him just looking at my ID and letting me go they proceeded to run my name.
I sat on the curb for maybe about an hour. And then they gave me my ticket and I went on my way. I went home I ate my chicken nuggets and fries and I showered and I requested funds from Zach for those two individuals I was going to bail out and then I grabbed my bike. Going towards The Justice Center I get about maybe like four to five hundred feet away from my house and an officer he hits a u-turn and pulls on the side of me and says, where you going? They radioed in and say that they basically I had a run-in with them earlier on the bridge.
And he’s like, he doesn’t listen. It was something of that nature, basically he doesn’t listen. He’s going to jail. In my pocket I had my driver’s license, the county badge which states Cuyahoga County and The Bail Project at the bottom and I had my Bail Project debit card and it says The Bail Project and Anthony Body. So you would think that they would put two and two together, but no. As I was being arrested there was a white woman walking her dog and they didn’t bother her whatsoever. Got to jail. Sat in the intake pod. About ten of us in the intake pod. We have COVID going on. Our county jail is known for death. There’s quite a few people that have died in our county jail. And with COVID especially, you know a jail is not a place where you can socially distance. They gave me my blankets and my county orange suit. Went to my pod. They opened the cell. There was another gentleman in there and I asked the CO, it’s COVID I thought was supposed to be separate cells, individuals?
He said, hey have your family call downtown and file a complaint or filed a lawsuit or something. One of the gentlemen that I was gonna bail out was on the pod with me. And we got to joking. I said, man I was coming to bail you out. It’s your fault I’m in here! And we got to laughing, but it’s absurd, like I’m here to help people but you taking that away from me. Like you taking away my freedom. I didn’t get out of jail till like 7:30 p.m. And uh now I’m here. You know we hear these stories and we read these stories online about how egregious the conditions are within a jail, or how the staff acts, how lazy they are, or what they do and don’t do but I got to experience that firsthand. Like the jail’s filthy.
With COVID going on you would think they would take better precautions in cleaning the jail. You would think that the staff would be more attentive in helping the people that are going there. No one who’s coming in through intake has been convicted of anything, so they all should be perceived as innocent. And they also should think that that could be me! Because I didn’t think that I would go out this day trying to obtain freedom for some people and my freedom would be taken, but that was me.
Anthony Body, a Cleveland Bail Disruptor, was on his way home after spending the day bailing people out of jail. Cleveland city officials had imposed curfews during the Covid-19 pandemic that restricted non-residents from entering certain areas in downtown. Body left the city perimeter for work. When he returned, the police refused to let him enter. After questioning Body, the police arrested him. “I was going to set a few people free when the police took my freedom from me,” he said.
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