Me & Mandela, 1980
an excerpt from Book 2
Viciously thrown to the cold cement floor of the Regina Police Station in 1980 and beaten with batons by renegade Regina cops looks like something that’s about to happen.
Driving away from the university northward on the Ring Road late one evening, I see red flashing lights in my rear-view mirror and have to make a quick decision: pull over or boot it to freedom.
With the menacing car half-passing me —knowing they’re about to do a PIT manoeuvre: a quick nudge onto my rear quarter-panel, spinning me around at highway speed to tumble end-over-end in a fiery ball— I decide pull over onto the shoulder of the darkest part of the Ring Road.
I reach under my seat but my tire iron is in the trunk. I sit there, sweating in my fuzzy white Icelandic jacket, waiting for the twin violent fascists to march around my car.
“Licence and registration, please,” one says, dripping in seemingly anger and contempt. I hand over my papers, as many of my kind have been forced to do in similar police-states throughout the world, and they return to their armoured vehicle.
In my rear-view mirror, I can easily see their horrid, pasty faces in their interior-lit car, searching to pin some unsolved crime onto me. And I know it’s going to happen.
A few minutes later, a tap on my window, and a venomous “Please step out of the car, sir.” I’m careful to move with smooth fluidity, knowing full well any sudden movement from me will result in a hail of bullets.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but your son lunged for the officer’s gun and they opened fire,” is the vile lie a police sergeant will tell my mom and she will defer to them, saying, “Ya, David was like that.”
“Please empty your pockets and take off your shoe laces.”
I’m now being booked inside the newly-opened Regina Police Station on Osler Street, the fresh chamber of horrors.
I’m verbally pushed and shoved into the back cell area, the place where few return.
“Open Cell 12,” says the commandant to an unseen listener.
The jail door clanks opens and I’m left with no choice: fight back at my oppressor or willingly enter this cage.
My new living quarters for who knows how long is an eight-foot by eight-foot clear plexi-glass room with only a hard-rubber “mattress” on a metal bed frame and a stainless steel toilet with no lid.
Through clear walls, I can see the adjoining cells of my fellow oppressed prisoners — all unconscious on their cots, broken by intense interrogations or possibly worse.
My mind spinning, I quickly lose track of time in this cindercrete house of sensory depravation.
Here, alone in my tiny cell, half-hour after half-hour, the threat of torture mere feet away, I feel a camaraderie with Nelson Mandela — some guy currently imprisoned somewhere in Africa that my fellow Carillon newspaper friends are always going on and on about.
Later, face down, pushed to the very edge of consciousness, I’m shocked to hear the mechanical opening of my cell.
“David G——, you’re free,” a guard snarls. “Court date’s on this paper. Pay off tickets before then, you don’t have to show.”
Lacing up my shoes in the front lobby, I look up to ask when I’ll get a ride to my car back on the Ring Road. The rotten-toothed clerk points to a payphone and slams the door.
The few one-dollar bills in my wallet are of no use for the phone, but I’m relieved to find a few dimes in my jeans. I call the first friend I know who will come pick me up, no questions asked. No answer; no answering machine. Second friend, same thing. Third friend, same.
I have one dime left and am dreading who I have to call.
“Who’d you kill?” my mom asks.
“Just come pick me up.”