DeadSplinter Up! All Night: The System

So, this is a little heavier for a DUAN – but since it’s my turn this evening I thought I would incorporate these events into it. Sunday night around 2am I was awakened by a bright spotlight shining into our bedroom window. I heard voices and figured it was our local police – so I looked out the window and sure enough it was. They had followed our neighbor home and had run his plates – which showed that he had an outstanding warrant. I went outside because our neighbor is a 65 year old black man and the cops were white and I felt that I should be a witness in case anything escalated. We’ve never really had any racial issues with our local police, but I would like to keep it that way. I also have a camera in the driveway for random car break-ins so I also recorded everything.

To give some history to my neighbor – we’ll just call him John – he’s a Vet who lives on some kind of military assistance and is Section 8. He has a prior history of drug addiction but has been clean and sober for at least fifteen years. He picks up whatever odd jobs he can find around our area and also would take the bus into downtown Atlanta to work at the Merchandise Mart – where he would do different odd jobs for various vendors and the Mart administration. He has lived in the duplex that is next to my house for over ten years – I’ve lived there about seven now and we basically share a driveway. He has only recently gotten a car that a friend sold to him very cheap – he has always ridden his bike and the bus to get around. He is very nice and has a lot of cats.

Apparently, the warrant was for a failure to appear at a dismissal hearing in 2018 when some vendor at the mart accused him of stealing a piece of furniture. He thought that the whole thing had been dealt with – he didn’t steal the piece, there was no evidence he stole the piece and the Mart administration backed him and managed to get the vendor to drop the charges. So, he was quite taken aback at having an outstanding warrant from the whole event.

When I came outside – the cops were still talking to him about the fact that they were taking him in. He said he had paperwork showing the case had been dismissed but of course they weren’t going to let him go back into his house. I stood a fair distance back – so that I didn’t add any threat and one of the cops finally said Do you know who this person is standing in the driveway? I piped up that I was his neighbor and that they had woken me up and that I was there to see what was going on and to advocate for him if necessary. One of the cops told me that I could go into his house and find the paperwork – at the time I didn’t know he didn’t have his phone. I went to find the paperwork, but couldn’t and when I went back out to ask where else I should look – they were cuffing him and told me that it didn’t matter they were still taking him in. I tried to ask a question but one of the cops pretty much told me to shut up and the other cop told me to stay where I was which was in the front yard of the duplex. I waited while they told him that they were taking him to Dekalb Co jail so that Fulton Co Jail could pick him up since that was where the warrant had been issued and they also searched him. He didn’t have his phone, and they wouldn’t let me go back into his place to get it for him – but one of the cops told me that I could write down my number on a piece of paper and he would give it to him. They let me go to my house and write my number down which the nicer cop took from me and said that he would give it to him. Then they put him in the car and drove away. If the light hadn’t woken me up – no one would have known where he was or what had happened to him.

Luckily for me, I’ve never had to deal with anyone getting arrested but that meant that I had no idea what to do next. Monday morning – I told the couple of neighbors who are friends with him what had happened so we were trying to figure out which jail he was actually at and what to do next. I also wasn’t sure if the cop would actually give John my number so I didn’t know how he would get in touch with anyone. He doesn’t have any relatives near by. Finally around 5:30pm – I got a call from the Fulton Co jail – thankfully, the cop did give him my number – and he was able to give me the info to post his bond. Apparently – the case was dismissed but he was supposed to go up in front of a judge for it to be officially dismissed and the court sent the summons to his address from twelve years ago – so he missed the court date and they issued a warrant all based on their mistake. None of the neighbors have any money – they’re all on disability or unemployed so I signed stuff I wasn’t super comfortable with and paid the bond. The bond people actually walked me through what all would happen so at least they were nice and informative. They said he wouldn’t be released for at least 8-24 hours which is crazy to me. We made a plan that the other neighbors would pick him up – once I got the call he was being released.

Of course, he called at 2am saying he was going to be released in about 30 minutes – only one of the neighbors answered my text and she didn’t feel comfortable driving into downtown Atlanta – so I ended up going myself – even though she rode with me. Just a side note – she is very libertarian/republican and I had to bite my tongue while she explained to me the dangers of all the mask wearing and how it was worse than the virus. I don’t argue with her because in previous conversations – she just doesn’t get it and I didn’t want to get into on our way to the jail.

Needless to say – we waited another three hours outside for him even though when I went in and checked on his release info they said that he was getting dressed and would be out in 30 minutes. We finally made it home at around 6am this morning. He’d been in jail for over 24 hours.

My point is – the system sucks – I was only mildly inconvenienced by the whole event and I feel like the justice system makes things hard on purpose – which I get to a certain extent – but for people like my neighbor to be arrested and have to spend time in jail and lose a day of work over a stupid clerical error is absolute bullshit. What about the people who get arrested for stupid stuff like this and have no one to advocate for them or bail them out or even pick them up? If that cop hadn’t given my number to John – I don’t know who he would’ve called – he didn’t know who he could’ve called either since he didn’t have his phone. If the light hadn’t woken me up – he could still be sitting in jail and no one would have known where he was – just disappeared into the system – and that is scary as hell to me.

As always – thanks for your support of Deadsplinter and DUAN!



  1. Wow, that is idiotic. There is just no need for the police to be involved in sorting this kind of thing out, nor are they really capable of it. It just wouldn’t happen with an exec in a McMansion, it would all be handled with phone calls and polite letters.


      • He’s so nice and I just felt so awful for him and he’s 65 years old – which it wouldn’t be fair at any age – but the fact that they handcuffed him and it took so long to get him released is just depressing beyond belief. And, he actually told me that the cops started being nicer to him when they realized I was standing there – which makes my blood boil. Our little city just elected a new mayor that is a black woman after years of white people running everything – so hopefully she can change some attitudes or at least get rid of any problems before they grow.

  2. The system is deliberately designed to be as onerous as possible for anyone without the money to avoid it.  It’s just another layer of criminalizing poverty and making being poor as expensive as possible.

    AC/DC – Systems Down


  3. @Lymond, thank you so much for what you did. It is indeed scary to think what might have happened had you not been there and willing to get involved. That is damn heroic, my friend.

    Doves – Prisoners

  4. Hi Lymond,


    I don’t have a track to share, mostly because that seems glib in context, and also because I’m writing this response far later than the time when I originally read your post.

    In so many ways, I am feeling the ravages of systems, whether they be the pathetic and broken excuse for healthcare the US harbours, the rat race we endure so we can pay for shitty apartments where everything is broken and never getting repaired, or the nightmare of student debt I’ll take to the grave, in part because my spot in aforementioned rat race pays for shit because it’s definitely a non-profit that takes advantage of idealists. And then, of course, there’s policing and the carceral system.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Had you not stepped outside, your neighbor could very well be not only lost in the system, but grievously injured and/or dead now. I’m glad good humans like you exist and I’m bitterly sorry situations like the one John went through run rampant for BIPOC people.

    It’s as true as it was the first time we heard it: the system works the way it was intended to work. What was so scary about abolishing or defunding it? Right about now, that sounds like the only sensible suggestion.

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