I was trying very hard not to roll my eyes at the repeated questions when an NYPD detective suggested my protest could be charged as a felony. In the next second, the Secret Service agents asked me to sign Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act waivers so they could gather all my medical records. My mind was still focused on the f-word: felony. But I didn’t want to sign the waivers.
.. I meekly asked whether I should talk to a lawyer. I was told it was my prerogative but also that it might mean I’d be held longer. Being in a room with that many enforcement agents hurt my ability to reason dispassionately, and I was now looking at a criminal record from a basic, even banal, nonviolent protest. I signed the forms.
.. In the end, I couldn’t stop wondering why they were devoting so much time to me when they could be pursuing neo-Nazis. I was treated as a national security threat when all I’d done was exercise my First Amendment right to free expression. This isn’t normal, and it shouldn’t be how nonviolent protesters are treated by armed agents of the government.