Tom Raftery/Flickr

Since the last vendor profile written about me, my student loans have been forgiven. I had hopes of returning to school someday, especially since I’m constantly in a school setting around American University. But I’m still wary that I’ll have a repeat of the oppressing events I experienced when first attempting to return to school.

That was back in 2006 when I was homeless down in Norfolk Virginia. I was staying at the Norfolk shelter on Brooke Avenue when I first got the inclination that I could get out of that bad situation by going to school & completing my degree. I walked past the Educational Opportunities Center almost daily. I was familiar with the organization since they were the ones who initially helped me enroll in school down at South Carolina State University. So I stepped in again, this time at a different location, to plan out and pursue my future.

Shortly after setting myself up with that long distance, futuristic touchdown bomb – I was offered a job by a guy in a car who directed me to All~Star Temp Agency. I thought sure, I could use the extra money to get through the month.

The Manager there was named Walter, I remember. He sent me right out on a light construction job at a Ruby Tuesday, they were building and preparing to open.Around three days in, I stopped for a bite of breakfast before work at the gas station along the way. The attendant accused me of stealing a pack of 50 cent doughnuts. I was not guilty and ended up tossing my 50 cents at the window and storming out in anger at his accusation. I got about a block away from the job when police pulled up on me and asked me to return to the gas station for something I didn’t do. I refused!

Virginia has a law where the state can issue a bench warrant based on only an accusation. The first officer called for backup since I was being resistant about a crime I didn’t commit. I was just trying to get to work that day and continue on my way. The second officer must’ve been patrolling the parallel street in pursuit of me. He arrived on the scene, parking crookedly, and immediately hopped out of the car screaming “Get on the ground!”

He extended his blackjack and proceeded to strike me with his wand, breaking my forearm on the first blow. That left me with no choice but to get down on the ground as I was cuffed. “You broke my arm!”, I exclaimed. It made little difference. An ambulance was called out and arrived 30 minutes later, only to put a band-aid on my broken skin and not treat my broken limb!

I spent that whole half hour cursing the officer as he sat there in wait playing Solitaire on his cruiser’s computer. My bag was never checked, being dismissed as “He probably already ate it and discarded it by now”. I sat for a week before I could see a doctor about a cast. I was given 30 days in lockup. Upon release I returned to the scene of my arrest where I discovered why my glasses were never retrieved. They had been stomped on and destroyed, scraped across the concrete.

I left for Maryland at once, where I was expecting to receive my college funding and complete my mission of enrolling in classes once again. In all of the commotion I forgot which schools I had sent my financial aid off to and ended up at the University of Maryland University College since they were offering waived admission fees. I got about two months worth of school in before I was falsely arrested again. Campus police followed me around, issuing citations for trespassing only to have them rescinded by the schools’ administrative offices three times!

I only got through that period of having no home, no glasses, and a broken arm with some help from some fellow students. They took me in and accepted me at the school’s radio station. They allowed me to come in out of the cold and spend time with them doing something that I love – playing music! After a night of warmth and lodging provided by the student body, I was arrested following a janitors inquiry of “Do you belong here?” He asked a second time not being satisfied with my answer of “Yeah!”

I got another 30 days for nothing. I ended up getting jumped in prison for getting a drink of water from the faucet rather than the sink in my cell as suggested. The emergency response team–a.k.a. the “goon squad”– was called. After I spoke with them calmly, they forced entry into my cell. Seven to eight “goons” began jumping and stomping on me inside after the ringleader had maced me for no good reason other than being protocol and procedure. On top of that one of the goons threatened to rape me as the cowards stole from me and retreated. The attack continued all the way down the corridors, through the medical shower and into an awaiting cell. I just took the assault, baring in mind that one of my younger cousins died from blunt force trauma to the temple, to the dome. These fellas were playing for keeps!

I ended up in the “hole,” traumatized. I was left there sore, sulking over the events that had just taken place. I was in the youth housing unit, and other people in there let me know that this was a fairly regular occurrence. They were trying to comfort me, but that troubled me even further. I’m a man, a poet with a very loud voice. These were just defenseless children and kids in the same unit with me. I could think my way out of the box, but what about them? They depended on their parents, and their parents weren’t there for them.