*The time line of events: 1998 – 2008 Here is a time line of events of the on and off experiences I have had with repression U.S.A. Style. Complete with Detectives of the New York Police Department, the FBI of both the New York and Boston offices, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. As always some events and experiences become more clear as time passes. Blanks are filled in and some mysteries solved. These events occur on and off like a re-occurring virus. I wrote down all strange and weird events and things that didn’t seem right; things that made me and my friends go hmm. Folks told me to write down every detail of strange events to see if there is a pattern. They told me that even if the strange event doesn’t have an immediate explanation, to go with my gut feelings and write it down. 1998 I started working with 2 related Palestinian activist groups. One of the main members of the groups was detained after 9/11, in April 2002 for 2 years.
His name is Farouk Abdel-Muhti One of the first signs that things were starting to get strange was that I started to have problems with my P.O. box mail. I opened the P.O. box in 1990 at a copy shop owned by 2 really sweet neighborhood guys who are totally on our side politically; from local fights against gentrification and police brutality in NYC, to world events and against war. The problems started with the mail in 1998, 8 years after I opened the P.O.Box account in 1990. Some mail I would get would take up to 40 days to arrive even though some had been mailed from the same neighborhood. Sometimes my phone bills would come slit open or the bill would not be inside the envelope. Other times I wouldn’t get my phone bills at all. A few times my phone got cut off. I called the phone co. and they’d tell me they sent bills and shut-off notices and I said I didn’t get them. I of course did believe them because they want to get paid. I would show the mail to the guys in the copy shop and they’d say that they noticed that but they just put it in my box. A lot of times I wouldn’t get letters from my friends and family and they were never returned to the sender – it’s as if the mail disappeared into some black hole and my friends would say that my mail is hanging out with the socks that go missing during a trip to the laundry. Others said that I have “Govt heat”.
I just blamed the flakes at the post office. 1999 Same crap with the mail, but this time I wouldn’t get any mail for almost a month and then it would all arrive on the same day, even though the date stamps on the mail sent locally were sometimes 2 or 3 weeks old. The guys at the copy shop even made comments when they noticed it, such as: “Wow, when it rains it pours. Just like your catering jobs.” Which was soo true, we would have no work for a month and then we were slammed with tons of work complete with double shifts. My friends noticed too. When I’d complain about the flakes at the post office they would say “Can’t you see you have heat and your mail is being messed with.?” The parents of some of my child hood friends were in the Black Panther Party so they grew up with repression and can smell it a mile away. . So, I went to the post office for our neighborhood to tell them about my mail problems. All they could say–including the manager–was that “Oh, your family, friends, and phone company probably don’t have the correct address”. I told them I’d had the same P.O. Box address for 9 years already – since 1990 Why would they all “forget “ the correct address starting in mid 1998? I went to the post office at least 4 times and got the same response. They also couldn’t explain why I got my mail all in one monthly batch there abouts, rather than coming every few days like normal. In March of ’99, I got mail from a white supremacist group called 88. i.e: Heil Hitler. I was part of a support group for an activist locked up for anti Nazi activity in Texas and an 88 member–who was locked up in the same prison in Texas as my friend–put my friends’ return address on the envelope. He misspelled my friend’s name by 1 letter. The 88 member asked the 3 of us who received basically the same letter, “ Are you Jews or ( the N word)? Stop spreading lies and propaganda, or else.” . Also, in the spring of 1999, as I left my P.O. Box I heard some one call me by my first name. I looked around. This is my neighborhood so it could have been any one of my friends. So, I looked around to see who it was. It turned out to be a cop in his patrol car. When I looked at him and realized it was him. He pointed his finger at me as if he were pulling a trigger and said “bang!”.
From July-Nov 1999, I went out of the country and I did not get any of my bank statements while I was gone. I had a friend/roommate getting my mail while I was gone and she was surprised by the irregularity of my mail delivery. I changed my P.O. Box at the end of 1999 after I got back. . So as far as the home front in 1999, some strange stuff happened that made me, my friends, my neighbors, and roommates go hmmm. In May 1999, one day after me and my roommate (who was also with the 2 Palestine groups) had a cleaning attack in our apartment., we went to eat breakfast. I came back 1 hour later to find my apartment door slightly open. We always locked the door even if we go to the corner store for a minute. I was worried that the 250 dollars we put on the counter for the electric bill was gone but it was all there. However, my things were moved around on the shelf in my room,. My work checks were taken out of the envelope my boss had put them in, my visa to Egypt was taken out of its envelope, and laid out and on top of the little pile was a postcard from a friend that had been on a different part of the shelf. That was a weird one.
During that spring on many occasions when I called home to my home number to speak to my roommate, the phone would ring and I would hear a pick up sound as if someone had answered. I’d say “hello” and usually some guy would say “hello” back and I’d say “you’re not my roommate”, and he’d say “I know”. Meanwhile, the ringing was still going on in the background I would hang up feeling all creeped out and I would re-call my roommate and she would answer and I asked her each time this happened if the phone just rang before I called and she would say no. This happened at least 5 times that spring of 1999 . I didn’t have a cell phone and was reliant on street phones back then.. Then in June 1999 when my new roommate got home ½ an hour before me (we left to go to work that morning at the same time), she called me all freaked out and upset because the door to our our apartment was un-locked.
We found that our hot water heater was on–which was dangerous because it was a fire hazard if left on. We only turned it on when we used the hot water in the kitchen and turned it right off afterward because our hot water leaked. In addition, the pills for my cat that he had to take for 2 weeks because of his urinary tract infection were not on the counter where we’d left them. We’d had nothing on our counter where we’d left his pills, so it’s not like the bottle could get lost among clutter because we were clean freaks. All that was on the counter was the dish rack. She was supposed to give him his night time pill at 6pm and she freaked out when she couldn’t find the pill bottle. So she called me up at work all upset and I told her I was due home in 15 minutes. I got home and found her looking for his pills. We kept a clean and clutter-free home–everything had its place. I helped her look and I even looked in the small bag for daily trash that we had on a hook on the wall far up above the counter. We’d placed it there on purpose so the cat would not get into it (even though he was not the type of cat to forage in the trash; however, he did enjoy tearing up plastic bags if we left one down low enough for him to get to). I looked in the bag that was hanging up above the counter and was surprised to find his pill bottle in the bottom of the bag covered with junk mail and coffee grounds from our morning coffee. My hair stood on end, and my roommate and I just looked at each other with an expression of “Hmmmh, What the fuck?”, and she started to hum the twilight zone song to break our mutual creeped out moment.
She jokingly asked the cat “What happened? How did you get your pills from the counter up to the trash bag and onto the bottom of that bag? You’re a talented cat. Too bad you’re not wired for sound!.” I’d known this woman since we were little kids and she is very reliable and on point Several more times we both came home to an un-locked apartment door, yet nothing was ever stolen, even though we both left for work at the same time and were ever so anal in locking the door, complete with a turn of the knob and a lean on to make sure the door was securely shut–hey, we’re both New Yorkers. 2000 Nothing weird happened till 2000. I stayed with Farouk and our friends because practically all of my catering jobs were out by them. One night in March I came home at 2 am from a job and only Farouk was still up. The others were asleep. So as we sat talking and eating cereal, the door bell rang at 3 am so I went down to answer and it was the police. They said they got a call from us about domestic violence and I said no, we didn’t call, so they said the call came from this address. I told them we are fine.
They said OK and left. Another roommate in another apartment and I came home a few times to our doorknob lock socket hanging loose,during the summer of 2000. In fact one time it was ½ out of its socket in the door. Other than that, nothing weird happened till October/November 2004. 2004 In October and November of 2004, I noticed my phone bill jump up to double the usual bill amount. I just used it for dial up to get on line, never for the phone since I had a cell phone. So I called in to complain and told them I don’t use the phone since I have a cell so all I do is get on line via dial-up once or maybe twice a day- before and after work. So the phone company sent me an itemized bill showing each call or dial up made from that number, complete with date and time of each call. I saw that each time I’d dial up to get on line there was another call 1 minute after each of my dial-ups and to the same # as my dial-up #. – no wonder my bill was double. So I asked why and all they could say was that the lines were crossed and I asked what that means. They said a neighbor could make a call on your line and you get billed and I said my situation is different because it is not strangers #s showing up on my bill, it is the dial-up # that I use being dialed 1 minute after I dial up – every time I dialed up as a matter of fact. The phone company was stuck in stupid on that one.
They reimbursed me for the 2 months of double billing. 2005 In March of 2005 I noticed I gained a screen saver on my computer I’d had since 2000. I never chose a screen saver and according to my computer geek friends, you have to chose a screen saver. You don’t all of a sudden get blessed with one – 5 years later at that. They said maybe someone has a “back door” into my computer. The screen saver was pencil drawn Galileo sketches of weird machines that changed form, animated style. They would flow across the screen. I noticed it and I didn’t know what it was and some of my friends commented on how cool it was and where did I get it from. I said that it just showed up, I didn’t choose it or know what it was. To me it looked like a person from like 1905 tried to predict what kind of machines we’d have in the future. I thought it was cool. Strange things going on in our apartment which spanned the spring/summer 2005- June-Sept The first weirdness was in June when my roommate came home and found one of my decorations I had in our hall placed on his bed. Right away he asked me if I put it on his bed, and I right away blamed the cat without thinking. He said “I shut the door tight so the cat doesn’t go in to lay on the computer.” I said “Duh, of course you do.” (he was right). So we just said hhmmmm.. that’s weird. We changed the lock anyway.
Then one day in July I came home to find one of those little museum style tabs you get when you go to a museum that has an M on it. But this one was sky blue with a eye drawn on it in black, so when he came home that day, I commented to him about it saying it was cute and where did he get it. He got this scared as fuck look and said “I didn’t bring that in here!?” He then said that someone is definitely getting in here. He also said it was creepy that it had an eye drawn on it as if to say “We are watching you” In August I came home to find my little knick knack figurines that were on top of my TV and cable box moved around. Some of them were placed on the table that the TV was on. We couldn’t blame the cat for that one because when he gets hyper and gallops around the house he slides into the TV table, scattering some the the figurines around and knocking them on their sides all over the TV, table, and floor.
They are not standing upright after one of his hyper cat moments. Then after I came home from the beach with a friend of mine, we came to my house and she saw a Polaroid photo of a whitish guy with a black shirt with an American flag on it. It looks as if he is standing in a long ass airport tunnel in the D.C. airport. This photo was in our hallway of our apt. and she said “who is this hotty?” and I said “oh I don’t know, it wasn’t here this morning – maybe he is a friend of my roommate”. Sooo… when my roommate got home soon after we got back from the beach, I told him that my friend thinks his friend is a hotty. He said “what friend ?”, and I pointed to the Polaroid photo and said “HIM!” My roommate had a look of fear that both my friend and I caught onto right away and he said “I don’t know who that is or who put it here. It was not here this morning when I left!” I said “I know .. I figured you might have gotten your mail and came back home and put it there.” He said the guy looked whitish or could be Latino, Italian or Arab. He said “M.L., someone is getting in here- for real!” This was on Labor Day weekend 2005. My friend was horrified to no end..she stood there looking at us with an expression that said – WHAT THE FUCK! (I was telling her all the previous crap as it was happening so she had an idea). He said to her “This is crazy, has M.L told you about all this stuff going on in here?” She said yes. Just after Labor day I came home to find my little suction cup window chime that said Allah on it in Arabic complete with a house blessing prayer, that I got years back, missing from the kitchen window. I looked high and low for it. I asked my roommate about it and he told me he didn’t move it. It was too big for the cat to hide it anywhere and anyway, we were minimalist and did not have crap and clutter around the house. It is real hard to lose stuff because there was no place to lose stuff in or under.. we are proud neat freaks!! So in mid September as my roommate and I were getting ready to move to a new place, he left it up to me to pick a spot because he trusted my opinion on apartments. So.. he got arrested at a bag search in NYC a few days before we were due to move and 24 hours later he called me from a pay phone, not from his cell phone like normal, and he was all freaked out and he said “M.L. – I just got out of jail because I got stopped at a bag search and they got all funny about my letter opener even though I just came from my P.O.Box. They arrested me and I need to tell you that I can’t be your roommate, and that all the weird stuff going on in the apartment is not a coincidence.” He also said that I should not talk in the house, that I should watch my back, and then he said he will be home in an hour and we can go to a loud place to talk.
I was with our neighbor when he called. We were eating Chinese soup for breakfast – our daily practice since we lived in Chinatown Brooklyn. She saw my reaction and said I looked like a real whitey now since I lost all my color for a minute there (she’s Black). I felt all rubbery and a bit shaky as I wrote down what he said to me on the phone and she had this expression that said holy shit! She told me I should come do errands with her, so I did. I did not even know the worst of it at that point. She said ”This is getting weirder and weirder by the week!” I just thank god that I was with her when this went down and that she was there while all this other “psyops” stuff was going on in the apartment. Several of my older and way more experienced activist friends who have been activists since the 60s and 70s with the Black Panther Party and White anti-imperialist friends said all this crap happening sounds like “psyops” on the part of the feds, etc. This is a fed version of “gas lighting”, doing weird shit in someone’s place trying to scare and freak them out. I said I guess.. but I am not sure ( I am a real stickler to facts and since all this crap was not identified as fed stunts straight up at that point I just said it was “weird stuff” happening.) It is not my style to assume it is FBI or what ever, I’d just say “hey this and that happened”.
I felt like my security at home was being invaded. The hoped for response is that I would be totally creeped out and to not do anything out of sheer fear, but I knew that is how they operate so I didn’t get too bothered but I was creeped out for sure, I cannot lie. So, I saw my roommate a few hours later after his call to me and he said the same stuff, plus throwing in the fact that I should try to notice if I see the same people in different places, and that I should not get the apt because we went through a broker, which leaves a paper trail. I said it is too late, it is a done deal. I was like – “DUDE what is up man. Who questioned you?” and he said the NYPD took him in at the bag search and then “homeland security types” talked to him. I said “OK, but what got into you and why are you being so 007 with me, and what did they say to you that causes you to tell me all these ‘security precautions’ that I need to take?” He got freaky again and said that he just got done with 24 hours of interrogation and he can’t answer any more questions. I said “Well you should tell me straight up.” He got all nervous and uptight and said “It’s your politics, plus the U.N. General Assembly is in town and they are worried.” I then said “And…what does that have to do with me??.” I jokingly said “Are you saying I should take off and visit a common friend of ours overseas for a while?” He said ‘Ssshhh, don’t talk about your plans!” as he looked around – mind you, we were the only non-Chinese walking on that street in our neighborhood in Chinatown Brooklyn. He was so scared and he said he doesn’t know what to do now and he hugged me and said “I love you and be safe! “- so that was the last I saw of him – we were out of there the next day since the lease was up. So..let’s fast forward to this January 2008 – it all came out in the wash (the mystery is solved) as they say.
My boss at the gallery saw my ex-roommate at a poetry reading this January 2008 and my boss asked him where the hell has he been. He said he left NYC because he was “scared to death” because when he got arrested at that bag search in September 2005 and showed them his ID with our address on it, the NYPD checked it on their computer. The FBI was called in and the FBI told my roommate to get away and stay away from me because I am a dangerous person and that I associate with dangerous people. They told him that they want to get a hold of me to make me name names and they said some Arabic names to him, so he freaked out and ran away back to CA. My boss scolded him and said to him “Why didn’t you tell M.L. what happened right off the bat when you had the chance? Why did you leave her in the dark?” He just repeated that he was scared to death. My boss said he could tell he was intimidated and terrorized but that it would have been better if he told me what happened, because I would have been more prepared for the FBI calls of October 06. I saw another mutual friend of me and my roommate(who I haven’t seen in 3 years) and she said he told her the same thing plus adding that the FBI told him that I am “deeply involved with an underground Palestinian terrorist organization.” Back to 2005 In October 2005, one month after I left that apartment, I got my bank statement ( I did not do a official postal change of address form. I just called folks and gave them my new address). I noticed on my bank statement that money was missing via a Pay Pal account that used my bank account number to open this account. So I called up the bank and they asked me my mailing address and I gave the P.O. Box address I was using at that time. They said who ever did this used an address in Brooklyn (my home address) and not my P.O box on record with the bank. So that right there showed the bank this was fishy. Also, only my first name was used, not my full name on record with the bank.
Plus I never use online banking–no paying on line, no online money stuff whatsoever and the bank knows that. My bank told me to contact Pay Pal since they allowed this to happen and I said I will, adding that there is bad security there at the bank to allow this hijacking of my account number. They said I will get the cash back since it was an obviously fraudulent move on my account. I did contact Pay Pal saying money was taken out of my account and that I never used their service or any sort of online banking stuff. So they asked me my email and as I started to spell it out he said “NO.. that is not the email used to open this account.” He said yeah, it seems like my account was hijacked because the email used to open the Pay Pal account was [email protected], not my email address; and besides, I do not do on line banking. So it was clear to both my bank and to Pay Pal that this was not my doing. I got my cash back, so that was good.
It started before my roomate and I left Chinatown Brooklyn. The bank statement showed it in October 2005 but Pay Pal said the account was opened in July 2005, while I was still living at that address used to open that fraudulent account. 2005 in my old neighborhood where I have friends and neighbors from way back in the day. On May 1st of 05 one of my ex-neighbors at the squat/homestead told me that my presence is bringing “heat” to the building. I asked him what the heck is he talking about and he said my “activities” are bringing on fed/pig heat to the building. I said what “activities?” He said it’s my political activities and that fed types are hanging out front of our house and around our street. A few weeks after that, I saw one of my other ex-neighbors from the first floor out front and he stopped me and asked me if I was having any trouble. I said yeah a bit with work slowing down, and he said no, he wasn’t asking me about my work. He asked me if I was having trouble with the Feds. I was sort of taken aback by that one and I asked him what he meant by that, and he said he overheard my friend who was staying in my spot on the 2nd floor (working with me to fix the electric, etc) arguing with another person that he couldn’t identify. This person was saying crap about me bringing on this heat to the building. My friend said that I was cool and told him to step off. Then in July 2005 my ex-neighbor from the top floor told me that some detective called him about me when he was supposed to be dealing with the theft of services complaint this neighbor had with his next door neighbor. This top floor friend and neighbor told me he put in a complaint about this theft of services with Con Ed (the electric co) and the police. When they called him to ask about me (he said they stumbled on my last name) he said , she is not the neighbor I am talking about–she is not the theft of services person I am complaining about, and he repeated the name of his next door neighbor.
They said oh we know but we want to talk to you about M.L. because we are doing an investigation on her. My top floor neighbor said “Well, she is not the one I am talking about, so lets deal with the guy next door.” They got frustrated with him and hung up. 2006 When I told my friend who runs the website life or liberty about this he had me write it up so I did. This is the website: www.lifeorliberty.org. This is the article below with some additions/updates that are incorporated into the time line. *** This is the latest chapter as far as my troubles with the feds. I had other troubles back in 1998-99 and in 2005 but those troubles were basically things that made me and my friends go, “hmmm.” They’re being more blatant now, since this time they’re actually identifying themselves as feds. The ‘98-‘99 troubles were occurring while Sharin Chiorazzo was my roommate and we both were working with Farouk in the Palestine Aid Society and Palestine Education crew. I had trouble with my mail and my apt being entered. No cash was stolen, but stuff was opened and moved around. I can write more on that period but suffice it to say this latest chapter didn’t just happen out of a clear blue sky. I’ve been having problems with the NYPD, New York FBI and Boston FBI. It started Oct 3rd 2006. This woman who introduced herself as detective Sendepour or Estenpour (it was crappy reception so I couldn’t hear her that well) of the NYPD called me up from a number that came up on my cell phone as a “private” number and said she was at my house (I was not there), and that she wanted to talk to me about “someone I know”.
Then she said she doesn’t want to have to come to my job and that she wants to speak to me in private and in person, and that it’s no big deal. So I said, This sounds like a silly joke”, and hung up on her. She had a slight accent mixed with a NY accent. Two of of my friends said she sounded Iranian possibly. Maybe a leftover from SAVAK days in Iran, since it is well known that the U.S. repressive forces take in secret police forces from around the world to work with them, like Shin Bet, SAVAK, Salvadoran death squad types, etc. She called up again and I hung up right away. Then she called AGAIN and left a message, saying the same thing she said when she first called and said it’s no big deal, and she left her cell phone number. So I went to my best friend’s place and left a message with a lawyer I know (a lawyer who had handled Farouk’s habeas petition), then called back the number the woman had left. I told her I was sorry to hang up but I thought it was a joke and that I couldn’t hear her well (my phone sucks). The woman replied that it was bad reception because she was IN my building. She told me she was a detective with the NYPD and also with the NY office of the FBI. She then said the Boston FBI had called the NY FBI office about me (by way of identifying me she tells me, “you were born in this place and you have this last name and this maiden name”), and that she wants to talk to me about “some people you’re associated with,” (now it’s plural – first it’s “someone” I know then it’s “some people” I’m associated with), telling me AGAIN it’s no big deal. I said, “I have nothing to say without my lawyer present.” She went right ahead and asked me about some Lebanese Shiite guy. I replied, “Like I said, I have nothing to say to you.” Once again she said, “I don’t want to have to come to your job. We need to talk in person and in private.” So I said, “I don’t want to talk to you,” and I hung up. Five minutes later she called again. I let it go to voicemail. She left a message saying pretty much the same thing and adding that they got a complaint from the Boston FBI about me and they have to check all bases when they get complaints. I was active in radical politics in Boston from 1980-84.
Some of my friends and I had some minor hairballs with the FBI, but not like this round of heat. I called a lawyer I know (who had handled Farouk’s case) and told him what happened up to that point. He said that when they say they’re a detective with the NYPD and that they are also with the FBI that means they are Joint Terrorist Task Force. The lawyer said, “Just keep telling them you don’t want to talk to them and if they keep bugging you give them my number.” On Oct 17th, as I’m in line to go to the Lynne Stewart sentencing, the woman detective called again. She asked me about the emergency contact person I’d put on my passport renewal application in 2004. I said, ‘I don’t want to talk to you guys”, and I kept telling her that my lawyer had said I didn’t have to speak with them. She then said she would come to my house again, and all my neighbors will know, and go to my job, and all my co-workers will know, in order to talk to me. She repeated, “We want to talk to you about your travels abroad.” I said, “I don’t want to talk to you guys,” and I hung up. She called right back and I didn’t answer, so she left a rude-ass and threatening message saying “You can hang up all you want but we WILL talk to you. We just want to ask you a couple of questions and you’re making a big deal out of it. You can do it the easy way or the hard way.” Then she said, “We will come to your house again, and to your job, and everyone at your job and your neighbors will know. (I’m thinking – know WHAT?, you nasty fed!). She then said, “I gave you ten days as a courtesy to get an attorney, so it’s OVER. You can give me your lawyer’s number.” My friend recorded the message for me on a CD. I gave the lawyer the two numbers I had for the detective. One of the numbers was at the police headquarters, according to the lawyer. Then on Oct 18th a male detective called me from that same headquarters. He said, “I am detective shit-for-brains (I can’t remember his name, it was some generic Anglo name) and my partner has been trying to talk to you.” and I said, “Like I told your partner, I don’t want to talk to you guys.” Then he said, “We want to ask you a few questions, and it’ll only take a few minutes.”
I said, “I don’t want to talk to you guys, here’s my lawyer’s number.” Then he said “Is this the number we can reach you at?” as he read off my cell number. I said, “NO. Just call my lawyer, not me.” and I hung up. I then called the lawyer and updated him on the latest calls from the woman and her partner. On Oct 20th, the lawyer called me and told me he’d spoken to the agents, who’d told him they wanted to talk to me about my travels abroad. I asked what trip did they want to talk to me about, and he said they wouldn’t tell him. He’d told them that I didn’t want to talk to them at all, and they’d said that if I don’t talk they will use “other means” to deal with me. I asked what was meant by “other means” and the lawyer essentially said it’s hard to predict their moves since they’re bullshitters and shady. He told me he’d instructed them not to call me, to call him instead, and told me if they call me again to just do as I’ve been doing – refuse to talk to them and have them call him. Meanwhile, while all this crap with the FBI was going down, my friend in my apt at the squat went away and I got locked out by the 3 jerks who love to mess with almost everyone in there. They wrote graffiti on my door saying “If you try to return to this apt you will get a black eye and the cops will be called.” In November while I was out of town and another friend was leaving her apartment, she heard one of the jerks telling one of the house members that “the reason you don’t see M.L. around is because she is wanted by the FBI.” She yelled at him, telling him to stop spreading lies like that–“she isn’t wanted by the FBI, they just want to ask her questions – stop gossiping like that, it is dangerous!!” You go girl! I love that woman.
In November 2006 a friend of mine got a call from the FBI and they asked him if he knows any Sunni men that have entered the U.S. in the past year. He told them he had nothing to say and hung up on them. 2007 On Sunday, January 6th, 2007, the supers of my building informed me that 2 women detectives showed up with a photo of me and a file folder with a bunch of papers in it. I asked them when the detectives came by, and they said early October (when they called and said they were at my house the first time they called). I was thinking to myself, “NOW you tell me! – I asked them why they didn’t tell me back then, why now – almost 3 months later. They just kept on repeating the fact that these detectives showed up with my photo and a file folder with papers, and how it really bugged them out. They said the detectives asked them if I have roommates, and they’d said no because at that time I didn’t have roommates. I had let some friends stay in my place while I was gone out of town for a month. They were still with me at that point and they were apartment hunting, and I’d told that to the supers–that they’d be out by February. On Jan 20th, I got a message from the landlord saying I have to pack up and leave because “we are having problems again”, as he said . It could be because of having friends staying with me, or because of the feds coming by and making me look like some dangerous person to the supers, or for both reasons. I called the landlord and the machine came on and I left a message saying I was surprised at his message since I have always been on time with my rent and that my friends were crashing until February. I never heard another word from the landlord and I stayed there till October 2007. In August, my top floor friend with the electric beef with his neighbor came to visit me at the job. and when I saw him I said “Hey, how are you!”–all happy to see him, and he said “The question is, how are you?!” He was all worried and nervous. He said “Can I talk to you?” and I said sure. He pulled out a New York Post article that he said was shoved under his door and showed it to me, and asked if I’d seen this article that mentions the group I work with – Al Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.
The article said Al Awda is an active supporter of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. That part was underlined and the page the article was on was shoved under his door. He was so scared and he told me it is the word on the street in our neighborhood, and for me to be very careful, and he hugged me so tight. A few days after that, my 1st floor friend told me one of the assholes in the building wrote a sign that said I should not have keys because I am a fed/cop magnet and she ripped it down. This asshole has that black P.O.W. flag on his fire escape. October 07 My friend from England, W, came to NYC to visit for 2 weeks and we made plans to fly back to England together on October 4th, -07. So in September, I went to a travel agent to buy a ticket for that same flight as W. The travel agent asked if I wanted 1 way or round trip, so I said to him, well, since my last name is Arabic I should get a round trip. He said it’s probably best but since you are a U.S. citizen it’s not necessary since travel agents do in fact sell both one way and round trip tickets, and since I am a U.S. born citizen I get 6 months there without a visa, which I knew, since I checked out the information from the U.K Embassy on rules about who needs visas and who doesn’t. Folks from the U.S. don’t need them. I told him I wanted to get an opened ended ticket and he said the longest time period allowed by American Airlines is 10 months on flights to the U.K.; October 4, 07 to July 4, 08. I asked if that was cool and he said yes since I plan to travel to other countries. I said I don’t have tickets for that because it is not concrete yet date wise. He said it is cool, and I’d done it a lot before so I thought it was still ok. But NNNNOOOOOO as I so rudely found out……. I flew to England with W and when we got to the airport in London Heathrow we went to our respective lines for passport control. I handed my ticket and passport to the immigration border patrol woman with a Jamaican accent at Booth # 26. She asked me how long I was going to be in England, and I said 5 or 6 months.
She said, “well, your ticket is till next July 4th 2008”, and I said “Yes, but I am going to Spain and Germany during this trip”, and that I knew “Americans “ are allowed 6 months stay in England, but I probably wouldn’t be there that long. Then she spent like 7 minutes looking up my passport info on the computer She then said “Do you have a ticket to Spain?” and I said “No, not yet.”, and she said she needed proof that I did indeed plan to leave England before 6 months. She gave me a paper from the home office called “Notice to a person required to submit to further examination” that had 8 boxes to check off and she checked off 5 of them: 1. You will be examined by an immigration officer. 2. I am suspending your right to enter the U.K. 3. I am detaining you. 4. I have also detained your passport. 5. reason for detention – I have further inquiries to make and more questions to ask you (they weren’t kidding!) The other 3 boxes not checked off were for medical examinations. They took my passport. I felt like I was put on the shit list in that short 7 minutes. Then it got weirder. She disappeared for an hour and a half and then another border patrol woman took over my “case”. Meanwhile, during that hour and a half of waiting, my English friend is waiting for me on the other side, pacing like a cat and using the payphone and looking mad aggravated. We would look at each other and hand talk, saying “what’s up with this crap?”, since we couldn’t talk to each other because we were like 40 feet apart between those nasty border control booths. I noticed an Indian border patrol women talking to W and as it turned out she is the one who ended up taking my “case” Then they kicked him out saying it is a security risk for him to be near them and I, and they made him go sit out in the area where folks pass through before they enter another area where they can meet their friends picking them up. Then they kicked him out from there. I noticed that most immigration control folks were People of Color. In that hour and a half of waiting I had time to check out the scene.
At least 5 overseas flights came in and most people sped through those lines so fast it was like a blink of the eye. When I was told to sit in this long ass row of seats facing these booths I was the only one there at that moment but then a Black man joined me, than 3 Arab men got pulled over. The new woman taking over my case came over to the immigration booth # 26 and called me over (her last name was Patel) and had me enter and led me to the baggage claim spot. My bag was there all abandoned among a few other bags. I didn’t notice if some one was watching our bags so that was weird that my bag is all abandoned out there. So I grabbed it and she had me put it and the other carry on bag with my laptop, clothes, and my pocket book on the table. She put on her rubber gloves and started checking them out. She opened all of my music cds. A friend had copied them from tapes to cds, so they had no covers. She took out the cds and put them back, then asked “What are these?”, and I said “Music”. Then she made a comment about the only cd with a cover on it from a local lower east side band called Death Mold saying “What is this?” And I said, “Punk rock music.”, and she just glared at me with that up and down look. I was wearing black slacks and a blouse – totally straight looking. Then she saw an Arabic cassette tape from some twenty something boy band out of Egypt- totally not political, but popular top hits. And she said “why do have an Arabic tape?” And I said “I like Arabic music, I like all music except country western.” She then opened my wallet and asked me why I had my social security card and health insurance card and I said, “Because this is what I carry in my wallet.” She asked me about my bank account and how much I had, and then she asked what the credit card was and I said “It’s my credit card.”, and she asked how much I had limit-wise on it (she informed me that credit cards don’t count as proof of funds). She then asked why I had an old ID. And I said it is not old; it expires in 2013. She wrote all this down. Then she went into my bank statement and credit card envelopes and saw my latest statement. She asked why I had them and I said “in case I get questioned about my proof of funding like you just asked regarding my bank and credit cards”. Then she said that I didn’t have a lot of clothes/ only 3 pairs of pants and 2 pairs of shorts. She wanted to know why I had shorts as it’s cold in England and I said, “Well I plan to go to the south of Spain and it is warm in the mid day there.” Then as she was saying all that she saw my mail receipt for a small 20 lb.box of clothes I sent to W’s. house and she asked about that and I said that I sent stuff ahead of me so I wouldn’t have to lug it with me. Then she took my address book and my dream/journal book and my calendar of my work hours. She flipped through the book and it only had like 25 pages written in it; mostly dreams and some journal stuff. She put them in the pink Detainee folder with my name on it, not back in the bags she took them out of. Then she pulled out the NY Yankees glass filled with homies figurines for W’s niece and asked “what’s up with this?” and I said it was for W’s niece.
Then she led me to the detainee room. On our way there W. was waiting and he offered to hold my bags for me and she said “No, the bags are coming with us.” And W said our friend was waiting for us still. I asked her how long will this all take and she said she didn’t know. So she led me off down all these halls into a room and she signed me in and handed me a 2 page paper that said I had a 10-month round trip ticket even though Americans are only allowed 6 months and no proof I was going to other places, and that I was a flight risk because I have no family or close friends in England. They put yellow tags on my 3 bags and left them there with the other bags of the people in the detainee room that had men, women, and kids. The chairs all had chains on them. I sat there for 2 hours then she came to take me to an “interview room” complete with tables and chairs with chains on them that I assumed were to hold folks down, and asked me if I wanted to be interviewed in English and I said yes. So the “interview” started and she started right off with my dream book/journal. She said the last entry was “disturbing” and I just sat there and I said, “That’s life living in a construction zone.(The last entry said on 9/11 the war came home that day big time – pay back is a bitch! We are living in the new normal etc.) Mind you most of the dreams were straight out of some home improvement guide. Complete with hardwood floor installation and sanding the wood, painting and stucco plaster work , places to get ceramic tiles, etc. She asked me about my past travels to the U.K. and for how long each visit. She asked how long have I known W. She asked if I visited him before and for how long each time. She asked me what he does for a living and who does he live with (his 85 year old mom). She tried to play with me by saying he said his mom is 81 and that he doesn’t have a job at the moment, which are lies and that told me she was trying to play hard ball with me. She asked about my jobs – Tribes and cleaning/de-cluttering and how long I’d been at these jobs.
She asked what kind of art shows we have and what else the gallery does and I said music events. She asked what kind of music and I said mostly jazz bands. She asked what I do there and I said office manager stuff – paying bills, keeping the files up to date, and organizing the storage room. She asked what is in the storage room and I said art work that folks left behind or are storing there, office supplies, and books. She asked me what kind of books and I told her poetry and she said what kind of poets and I said local NYC poets. She gave me the evil eye again. She asked how long did I work there at the gallery and how much I was paid. I felt like I was on a job interview. She then asked about my de-cluttering job and what do I do for people. I told her I help them de-clutter, give away or sell unused or under used belongings and to only keep stuff they use all the time, and that I also help them organize and sort their paper work and bills. She asked me if I have a professional skill or degree and then continued by saying “you are just describing common work, not a profession.” She was so snotty. They told me I have to apply for a visitors visa now since I was denied entry. So I was kept in this detention center for like 12 hours until they found a vacant seat on the plane to send my ass back to the U.S. They handed me the “removal” instructions for the airline. As if I am some tumor or a growth or something that has to be “removed”. While I was in the detention center one of the immigration police opened the door and yelled my name and then told me to call “my boy friend” when I get back to NY.
He did this while most folks were in the middle of sundown prayers (most of the detainees were Muslim). I was horrified but not surprised. Then when they came to get me I was handed over to a woman who brought me to the gate and as we were walking to it she said we will wait in a room by ourselves and that I will be put on the plane first to prevent me from being embarrassed and stared at. So..we get to the crowded gate and she cuts us into the front of the line and at that point like ½ of the passengers had gone through already and the other half had to deal with us cutting ahead and me getting searched once AGAIN, and of course we got stared at. This woman then escorted me on to the plane and handed an envelope to the airline personnel and said “Here are the removal directions.” A stewardess gave me my passport a half hour before we landed in N.Y. There was the U.K. stamp they stamp your passport with and an x crossed through it using a ball point pen and.. a ruler for the perfect X. The stewardess said I was the 2nd American rejected in all of her 35 years with the airline and her fellow stewardess who has been there 25 years said the same thing.
She said “don’t you feel special?” in a joking way. I asked what was the deal with the 1st American and she said the other American was a crusty punk on welfare and she looked and smelled like she didn’t wash in 5 months and this woman had a fake tail sewn on to her grubby pants. That made me laugh. I applied for the visitors visa for 4 months not the 6 months they give you if you are accepted and they still rejected me and put yet another x in my passport. They said it takes 10 business days to process it and they took a month just to say I was denied a visitors visa. In December 2008 I got my fiance visa to go to England. Even tho it ended up in my spam box… thank god i check my spam box. other wise i would of not seen it.