EVENT DATE: May 26, 2012
Funds raised here to bond out Chinbat will help me to payback the rescue investors who can give money up front to release him Saturday, May 26th.
Dear family and friends,
The newsworthy events of the Chicago NATO Summit this past week and my personal experience taking part in nonviolent direct action to protest NATO prompt this update. I would like to share with you some of the actions I took part in and some thoughts that have come up from this.
On May 14th, a cadre of Catholic Workers convened a symbolic banquet in the Obama campaign headquarters. While a hundred catholic workers held a makeshift table laden for a meal, sharing bread and baked goods, we sang anthems of the civil rights era and held a banner on display read “NATO Feeds War” and “Community Feeds People”. Then, after several warnings, still singing “peace is flowing like a river”, eight activists including myself were escorted from the premises.
Following my arrest, I served ten days in jail. In the crux of this I met an inmate who won my respect and my pledge to help raise his bond with urgent speed. I want to share briefly about the inmate named Chinbat and how you can join me to liberate him from captivity.
The one whom most called the “Chinaman” appeared despondent, lying on his lower bunk. Talking overhead, another NATO protester and I were engaged in political discourse with another inmate when China was mentioned. The man informed us of the 800 million Chinese who live without the privileges of advanced industrial cities, typically without access to electricity for example. This astute man turned out to speak five languages and his English was broad enough to describe in detail his first-hand experience of communist society. He seemed to enjoy companionship as we played chess and discussed the significance of Perastroika for Russia. Yet deeply anxious about his confinement in the county jail, he had not slept in three, going on four nights. I never asked what charges he faced.
A Mongolian by birth, Chinbat later went to university in Czechoslovakia. The travel to and from university took him by train through the corrupt and disintegrating city of Moscow. More than once he survived the death threats of Police armed with AK-47’s and a license to kill. His foreign complexion marked him as an easy target for harassment. Something of the terror he must have felt pooled out of his eyes when Chinbat spoke, pleading me to aid him make bond.
His wife and son live also in Chicago but do not know of his arrest and detention in Cook County. Chinbat has no contacts he can request financial help from and would have me contact his son only as a last resort. It is clear that this is a case of honor linked to his cultural background. While this is a culture foreign to many of us, we probably know something of his feeling that his very integrity hangs by a thread.
A bond acts as insurance that Chinbat appear in court and the relatively miniscule bond itself testifies to the petty matter at stake. For some it is too much, and for those of us who can shrink the gap the case of Chinbat is one on which our own integrity might also be at stake. For as social thinker Eugene Debs once said (paraphrasing), “Where there is even one in prison, there also am I. Where a class is oppressed, then I am of it also.”
Please consider whatever measure of financial assistance you can afford at this urgent time. Thank you for your vital support.
Dear Family and Friends,
I have found out more information regarding Chinbat that directly effects the heart of this cause.
This afternoon I contacted the National Lawyers Guild to thank them for following my case and received help researching why Chinbat is held in confinement with a bond of $1000. He is charged with domestic battery and goes to court June 5th. Under Illinois state law because Chinbat has no prior convictions, if found guilty it will be a class A misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 365 days in jail.
Every case has at least two sides. The man I met was sleep deprived, and anxious. I saw on his chest deep scratches that appeared fresh. When I indirectly referred to what might have caused them, Chinbat did not take the occasion to explain.
Domestic violence is rarely reported and cultural factors contribute to this. I put myself in the position of a woman in such a scenario and wonder about customs of Mongolian culture. If indeed it is a culture that very rarely rats out members of the family because of the high value of family, it is possible to assume that such a domestic dispute was very serious.
We must remember our own cultural standards and question our commitment to the jurist ideal of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. At the same time, as gang members I have met told me, they wouldn't wish jail even on their worst enemy. Finally, does jail resolve conflict, as prison abolitionists rightly point out. Yet in cases of domestic abuse, is it the only suitable answer our society currently provides for intervening force to separate parties? Such questions quickly arise to confuse the urgency of Chinbat's cause. We might have had biases against the imprisoned that such allegations allow us to put upon Chinabat. That is, if he is locked away, it must be for a good reason. Or, foreign nationals are criminals who steal our jobs anyway. Or, if it isn't this charge, he probably deserves jail for something else he got away with. This last lurks behind the question concerning his cultural background and confuses the fact that Chinbat has no prior convictions.
I apologize for not doing my homework before sending out the first mass communication. I acted on what I knew and the rendering of my heart. Was I manipulated? Have I jeopardized the integrity of my word? Am I just the boy who cried wolf, who next will not be heard? These are my questions but they may be yours also.
Recognizing the case is no longer black and white I hope you weigh the matter from an orientation of love.