Mike Godwin's first-person account: "What Happened at Occupy Oakland"

"I knew I had to see what was happening for myself. Since there was a chance I would be arrested, or worse, I took off my watch and emptied my wallet of most of its cash—I carried only a single ID and a credit card (the latter in case I had to make bail)."—Mike Godwin at Reason Magazine


  1. The one and only time I was ever arrested, I couldn’t use a credit card to make bail.  Men with guns (ie, the police) walked me over to an ATM and watched me pull out a huge chunk of cash before immediately demanding I hand it over to them.  It was kinda funny how much it felt like a robbery, especially since it was supposedly me that was the criminal and them, the law.

    1. Sounds like a scam common in eastern europe, where an attractive girl will invite you to a bar to practice english or something, then after a few drinks the bill will come  and you will have been charged hundreds of euros per drink. Some large men then escort you to an ATM so you can pay

    2. Mike Godwin here. Yes, obviously you can’t give a credit card to the police. Yes, obviously the police take all your property and you have to phone someone to get released. If you had given this more thought, you’d have seen why I brought a credit card — specifically, you may need to arrange for a Bail Bond company to charge you for bailing you out. Yes, you call the Bail Bond people to arrange to get you out, then you go straight to the Bail Bond company, and they charge your credit card. See now?  Honestly, people, I am not as dumb as I look. (If you just take cash, there’s a good chance you’ll lose it.)

  2. Godwin has obviously never been arrested.  You don’t get to post your own bail, even in cash.  All your property–money, credit cards–is confiscated and logged during processing.  You use your phone call to someone who will bail you out.  You sure as hell don’t get done with processing, swipe your card, and waltz the fuck out!

    The person who posts your bail is an insurance policy for the cops:  a criminal might post his own bail, chalk the money up to the game, and flee.  But anyone on the outside who cares enough about you to pony up your bail is much more likely to be someone that you don’t want to burn.

      1. no offense, but our experiences differ.  i’ve been in holding cells with dudes who had their bail on them in cash, stuck.  the one time the bondsman himself picked me up (rather than my friends retaining the bondsman but collecting me themselves, then taking me next day to the bondsman’s office to pay) was arranged by the lawyer I retained.

        sounds like you’re on your game, but Xeni choosing that quote for the post on its own rang false with me and Nylund.

        my apologies.

  3. You can’t game out every contingency in situations like this, especially when you’re making a quick decision to engage/observe. As it happens, I know bail-bond agencies in Oakland and elsewhere in Northern California, and it’s easier for me to contact them suddenly and directly in the middle of the night than it is to contact friends (who are more likely to be asleep, occupied, unavailable, unwarned). Arrests are always unpleasant, and there’s always a lot that’s out of your control, no matter how much you prepare. Most importantly, I thought it was more likely than not I’d have to make bail *for someone else*. Good to have a credit card on you then.

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