Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So What's Life Like in the Can?

For as long as I've known him, Lehigh Valley peace activist Joe DeRaymond has been trying to get his ass thrown in jail. He thinks he really can make a difference by getting his ass thrown in jail. But he's a lousy criminal.

Joe is one of the geriatrics who refused to leave Congressman Charlie Dent's office at quitting time after walking in unannounced and demanding to see him. Dent wasn't even at his office that day, but that made no difference. At quitting time, Joe was hauled away, but the cops refused to throw his ass in jail. They just gave him a ticket.

Another time, during the course of a shouting match with Northampton County Councilman Ron Angle over the Ten Commandments of all things, DeRaymond was waving his arms and knocked a cup of iced tea (unsweetened) all over His Eminence. When deputies came in to talk to DeRaymond, he freaked out. For that, he got a cavity search, but the deputies refused to throw Joe's ass in jail. They just gave him a ticket and kicked him out of the courthouse for the rest of the day.

Joe's wish finally did come true. He went to Fort Benning to protest the School of Americas, and hopped barbed wire fences and that sort of thing. He was one of forty people who got arrested. They take turns, and it was his turn that year. Finally, his wish came true. They threw his ass in jail. Three months.

According to the Pew Center, 1% of our adult population is sitting in a hoosegow. So maybe there's nothing really special about getting your ass thrown in jail. But Joe did it! Now he talks about being a POC, and that does not mean a pile of crap. It stands for prisoner of conscience. Joe has even written a gripping account of his three months in the slammer, called Three Months in Prison Nation.

Pretty cool title, huh?

He says things like, "Tear down the walls," even though he was in a minimum security facility with a "quarter mile track to walk, bocce, basketball, softball, bridge, chess, television, radio, work in the garden."

I guess bocce is for the mob guys.

So Joe finally got his ass thrown in jail, and I guess that means something in his little world. Good for him. But I can't help thinking how much valuable time has been wasted that could have been better spent on organizing real grass roots efforts to effect change in our government locally. We do have some bad public officials. We do have hungry and homeless right here in the Lehigh Valley. Joe doesn't have to go to South America.


Charlene & Jim said...

Some of us have the class to pay for our own vacations.

A.J. Cordi said...

Sounds like his mentor is Cindy Sheehan - all talk and stupidity with little logic.

Anonymous said...

You could only wish to have the nuts that Cindy Sheehan has...

Anonymous said...

i remember joe from back when you two were allies. i liked him. he struck me as a man of conscience but with more principals that common sense. but not an ounce of malice in him

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 4:52,

Agreed, and my problem w/ LEPOCO and local Greens is that they really fail in acting locally, where they can do the most good. Also, I think the age of peace marches and chaining one's self to an office door, is over. There are far more effective ways to make a difference, including something as simple as a blog. Something along those lines has been started w/ LVIndependent, but even that is pretty much mucked up. The emphasis on South America is totally unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

You can't nail him for getting into a shouting match with Ron Angle, what sane person hasn't?

Anonymous said...

And how many days in jail have you done, Bernie? Correct me if I'm wrong, but probably one day less than I've done and that would put your jail time at zero. What would Mordecai Vanunu, Phil Berrigan, Nelson Mandela say to someone who slams Joe DeRamond for getting arrested resisting this bloody fascist government while you knit socks?
Semper Fidel,

Joseph DeRaymond said...

I would like to clarify some of the numerous falsehoods and errors of fact in this article. As Mr. O'Hare knows quite well, I have not been trying to get thrown into jail ever since he's known me. I worked with him on the Northampton County Bond case, appeared with him on a radio show for two weeks and worked with him to stop a wasteful and duplicitous Open Space Bond Issue. I ran for County Council in 2001, and remain involved in local politics by speaking out to County Council regarding such issues as immigration rights and the attempt to give aid to ONLY landholding veterans. With regard to my arrest in the Ange incident, I did not "freak out" on County personnel, but was arrested solely because Mr. Angle made a complaint against me for assault, and failed to appear for the court case when it was scheduled. The case was dismissed. I was not given a ticket. In the Dent case, as part of a group of citizens petitioning our government, I was arrested in Congressman Dent's office. We were found guilty by Charlie's good Republican friend, Judge Platt, who rejected our First Amendment and international law arguments. In all the cases O'Hare mentions, I made every effort to avoid prison, as would any person, as prison is no holiday, no joke, no vacation. I encourage those who read this blog to follow the link to the prison article and read it for themselves. Who can sing, "Land of the free, home of the brave" when so many are behind bars, when those who protest the illegal acts of our government are thrown into the slammer?

Bernie O'Hare said...


Your melodramatic essay about "prison nation" and how tough things are being a POC, while enjoying bocce and all those little activities, tells me that -- all along -- you've been trying to get your ass thrown in jail.

With respect to the event leading to your imprisonment, here's the truth. A group of protesters decided every year to cross the line and get arrested. This decision is made with complete knowledge and understanding that those who do so will end up in jail. The year you got arrested, you knew damn well what would happen.

With respect to Dent's office, you geriatrics insisted on seeing him even though you knew damn well he wasn't there. When he had been there, he met with parts of your group. In fact, on the day that Platt gave you a slap across the wrist, Dent met with some of you. But on a day when Dent was not there, you refused to leave the office at quitting time. It was a publicity stunt that backfired, making you look like a bunch of bullies.

As far as the Angle case is concerned, I know damn well what happened. You never would even have been arrested or charged with a damn thing if you had been able to talk to the deputies without going ballistic. That's the truth. And you did get a ticket. Yep, you beat the rap bc Angle "forgot" to show up and testify against you.

As far as being involved in some local matters, I'll give you some credit. You have followed some local politics. but you know as well as I do that the local Greens refused to take a stand on the bond. It's much easier to talk about injustice in Latin America than center city Allentown. And rather than engaging local leaders at meetings about very real problems right here, you scoot off to little rallies and other demonstrations where you feel superior to everyone but accomplish nothing. That is why your LEPOCO and the local greens are so irrelevant. They never got the message of acting locally, and you know this is truth.

robynreinisch said...

Hi Joe, it is Robyn, do not know if you remember me from the Nazareth days, glad to see what you are up to, not surprised

Anonymous said...

A wonderful soul passed from our midst the afternoon of October 1, 2009. Joseph DeRaymond died from a brain tumor he had fought over the last year and a half. Even with the knowledge that his time was short, he went to ElSalvadore this past summer to help with their election process. Joe stood for DEMOCRACY at its best. Outspoken, yes - kind and considerate, most definitely. His voice and smile will be missed.