#F10: by Carmen Pittman

 

(Written previous to the release of Brian Allen.)
 
 
As we planned this sit-in February 9, the Occupiers of 404 Glen Iris Drive, we stayed up nights at a time gathering and putting ideas together. For some odd reason, I couldn’t really stay up listening to ideas and planning a night or so behind bars, so I left the meetings to pray to God, talk to my grandma, and go on off to sleep while the occupiers stay up from sun down to sun up planning any type of win for my house. Thursday night at 12 turns into Friday, the day of the action. I can’t sleep with my mind running off almost everything. I couldn’t calm myself down from the thought of walking into a bank refusing to leave so I decided to take a sleeping pill to relax my mind a little. Before I knew it I was off to sleep and the next time I looked up at my clock it was time to get up and take action. The bank opens at 9 am we decided to get up at 6 in the morning to talk through this again and get to the bank an hour before opening. As we arrived to the Chase branch I didn’t know how everyone else was feeling but i know I was nervous, more nervous than I ever been in my entire life. My heart was about to jump out of my chest thinking on how a planned out situation could go wrong. i was just hoping it wasn’t this day or situation. As we gathered we rushed through Chase’s doors with a mic check that reads:
 
“Chase Bank’s practices are nothing short of criminal.
Holding the Pitmans family home of 57 years hostage
and forcing them to buy it back is reprehensible.
We will not stand by as Chase puts a family on the street
for profit. Chase Bank coerces those who seek a home into debilitating debt
and uses the money that hardworking americans deposit
to speculate on Wall Street.
All the while there are millions of foreclosed homes standing empty in neighborhoods torn apart.
This is savagery.
This is brutality on humanity.
We aren’t interested in shaming Chase.
They haven’t cared so far and there is no reason to believe they will now.
We are here taking back our communities beginning with the Pittman home.
We are here to show that another way is possible that we have the power to disrupt
Chase Bank and any other institution that harms us.
The state of Georgia and the world at large is in a budget crisis
engineered by big businesses and financial institutions.
The working class is getting robbed at an accelerated rate.
We won’t be complicit in our own immiseration,
our poverty and our homelessness for the absurd profit for a few.
Give the deed back to the Pittman family
We will take the block back for our community!”
 
After that we sat down in the middle of the floor, linking arms and refusing to leave. I screamed at the top of my lungs that I want my house deed back and that I wanted them to get Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase, on the phone. Those were the only options that would be acceptable for me and others to be willing to leave. Atlanta Police wagon pulled up. I looked back in tears and whispered this to my grandmother “protect me”: they then stormed in numbers with handcuffs of several and zip-ties ordering us to leave and as the others quietly sat I continued to say “I just want my grandmother’s house deed back that Chase has stolen from me and my family. I know yall do not care and this is why I am doing this because nobody seems to care and the what you call a sit-in and i m not leaving”. They then grabbed the first of the 8 occupiers and each time they would detach a person from the link we would link onto whoever was left. It then came down to only two occupiers to go, me the granddaughter of Eloise Pittman, and one other activist so we then hugged each other as they pulled him apart. Then it was just me. I laid silently in tears saying to myself that this and more is really what its going to take for Chase to give the deed back. I was grabbed last as a cop filmed me the entire time as i was dragged into a paddy wagon with the occupiers off to jail.
 
We still sang peaceful chants loudly and asked the police driver why would he want to take on a job like that. He then turned on his radio as loud as he could and turned his heat on blast being evil like cops and banks are. We continued to sing loudly until county jail. The officers pilled all of us one by one as we entered the jail. The officer at the door didn’t spare me any as she treated me not like I was human at all, and immediately after being processed in they isolated me from the ones who got arrested with me. I was put alone in an even smaller holding cell with the air at the lowest temperature they could get it for 5 or 6 hours. But what they didn’t realize was how prepared the occupiers got me before we went to jail by making sure I had on layers and layers of clothing to prepare myself for the day ahead. So when they put me into a freezing holding cell alone I wasn’t really as cold as they probably imagined I would be. In fact, I was warm and was experiencing hot flashes from time to time so when they separated me i immediately fell asleep. By the time I woke up they had continued to try and make my stay a living hell by processing my papers last of every female that would come in. I still then acted very calmly which was irritating to them. By asking them question after question until they figured out how to just ignore me but when they ignored the other females who got arrested with me, they made sure to bug their nerves about me to make sure they eventually they would start my paperwork.
 
 After long hours of being the only one remaining of the arrested females, they had no other choice but to dress me out. I would have rather not worn a jumpsuit however I knew that they would put me in a holding cell with the ones who got arrested with me. They had already dressed out way earlier than me and we were back together again. It made me feel even more relaxed as they shared stories about the long process and how long they were going to mess with us.
 
Our legal team did an awesome job. They had our bond almost an hour or so after were booked in but the cops refused to share that information with us and continued to pretend nobody's fingerprints came back for hours. They then took us upstairs where the females who got arrested with me lost it. This is when they separated all three of us and at that moment it felt like they were ripping my heart out my chest watching us go our separate ways. But I still didn’t let them see me cry so the girls would know I’m staying strong for them because they did their part which was getting arrested alongside of me.
 
I entered the jail with pride and joy knowing ill do anything for Eloise Pittman, and even though i have been arrested before was the 1st time i never shed a tear. I know my grandmother was proud of me and mainly because it was for a great cause. I stayed strong prayed to my grandmother and my god for our protection to keep strong, and that this terrible process which felt like a concentration camp would be over soon. As I dozed off to sleep, before I knew it, my doors were clicking for whatever reason. I thought they were doing one of their stupid routines, instead some cop came up to say “Carmen pack your things you are going home”. I felt like the heavens opens up as I climbed down from the top bunk, hugged my roommate, and told her to stay strong. I then left the floor to be processed out. 
 
The girls and I met again, we hugged tightly with the intention of never letting go before the rude guards made it clear we couldn’t. We didn’t care as we were a couple steps to freedom. Processing out felt like forever but as the doors swung open there were our comrades embracing us. I cried knowing I was free (we) were free but it wasn’t over yet because the males that got arrested with me was still behind bars experiencing hell still. We stood out in the parking lot as the family had food, snacks, cigarettes anything they knew would satisfy us was there on top of the car as we talked about the awful experience and waited to see if the boys would get released. They weren’t. The jail quoted that it was going to be from 2 to 6 hours so we left off to Glen Iris.
 
 When we arrived at my house, we chilled for a couple of hours and then took back off to Dekalb County Jail to get the rest of our people; they were out from behind bars and we embraced upon arriving though it was only two of the 5 boys that got arrested for my house and there is 3 more behind bars being mistreated. This morning (2/12/12), I woke up highly upset thinking the boys were still not free. Having to go to bed with that on my mind was awful and heart-breaking. When I woke up to go outside to say good morning to the ones who were free i saw two more had been released. I sat there hugging them tightly repeatedly saying I’m glad they are free and I’m sorry that they had to go through that. As Dekalb county jail still held the last of the 5 boys since friday claiming his fingerprints hasn’t come back since Friday 11:00, February 10th. Now this is what you call abuse, but united we stand and no matter what we still feel like the arrest was very well worth it. Because of the coverage we got from shutting down a chase branch twice and the fact that this story was the biggest yet ,we will win our house at 404 Glen Iris. 
 
Sofia, Graham, Bailey, Hassan, Luke, Brian and Calvin, the action it took to go to jail alongside of me brings my eyes to tears every time I think about it. I love yall and words can’t explain how much you all mean to me. Know that Eloise is not only watching over me, she’s watching over y’all too. Thanks for believing in me as a person thank for realizing I’m human and my grandmother was robbed and the banks should have never in a million years took advantage of her this way. When I pray before I go to sleep, I always thank my god for my new family that’s been holding the fort at 404 Glen Iris drive since December 6th, 2011 until now. I love y’all so much and as I end his story in tears Im more than thankful for yall being apart of the Pittman family as we occupy Glen Iris and earned the title Chase 8! 

 

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