Tales of a Pandemic by Mariam

Tales of a Pandemic in Washington DC, May 4th, 2020

By Mariam

Here I am again, locked up in one of the 1st District cells, and this time without any valid reason. I thought that invoking the 5th would scare away the officers. The emergency shelter staff called the police on me, and I still don’t know why. It has been 4 nights that I sleep outside at the park because of them, or because of my big mouth and my attitude. They just didn’t accept that a homeless person like myself can be vocal about her right to safety and dignity. These people, who were wearing “Catholic *********” staff T-shirts,  were not behaving in a Catholic manner whatsoever in their mistreatment of me and other vulnerable women at the shelter. 

It felt extremely unfair to be handcuffed and dragged to the Police station like a piece of cattle but I am wise enough to not resist arrest because… THIS IS AMERICA. The officers couldn’t verify my foreign ass identity and had to call a homeland security officer to do so..  After I got released with a citation 2 hours late,I learned that they accused me of making threats and of indecent exposure. That’s ridiculously untrue. My words were sharp, but I never threatened anybody. I always had too much pride to expose myself to anybody let alone doing it outside, for the public. I worked at a stripclub without stripping for Godsake. 

From day one It didn’t go well with the Shelter Mafia. I was offended by their insensitivity and their patronizing attitude towards me and all the other women at first, and I felt the urge to check them each time they taunted me or tried to humiliate me by calling me names (They called me a Crackhead, which infuriated me given the history I have with Crackheads). Furthermore, it was outrageous how they would require us to wear masks when we are around them yet they didn’t do the same, like if our lives didn’t matter more than theirs just because of our circumstances. It felt like a concentration camp. They finally ended up kicking me out at 3 am when I protested their denial of my request to move me to another cot because the woman sleeping next to me, peed on herself (she is known in the shelter for frequently urinating due to mental health issues), and I couldn’t handle the smell of fresh pee in my resting space.  

 I didn’t have no money, no cellphone, nowhere to go with two heavy suitcases, so I camped at the park. I had daily free food, access to a water fountain and most of the neighborhood people were nice to me, even the scariest gangsta-looking ones. But the Shelter Mafia didn’t let me be, I was constantly bullied by them even when I was out of their territory, they would go out of their way to come outside and verbally assault me and demean me, and of course the big mouth who I am wouldn’t let it go, I would use my loudest voice and my sharpest words to respond. It was a waste of energy now that I think of it. I was busy firing back when I forgot that I was too vulnerable to bear any possible retaliations. I ended up losing the two suitcases I was holding on to when I got arrested. I felt so much regret for the time and the energy I lost around that place. Bottomline? I could have disposed of those heavy suitcases and spared myself the loss of energy and time for an already lost cause

Littlefinger of Game of Thrones said it very well, “There is no justice in this world until we make it for ourselves.” And the greatest justice I can do to myself here, in the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave, is to be financially stable and socially unbothered. My high expectations of the American and the Western values of justice and equality totally crashed down, here just like back home, you have to afford justice.

A journal entry by Mariam

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *