Legal Clinic and Jail Visitation Program Director, Suzi Ettin writes about her experience visiting the downtown county jail on inauguration day.
I had to be at the jail early this morning on this day where we welcome a new president to office in the US. The sun was just coming up as I was driving south on 7th St. and it was cold outside, but at least the wind that we’ve had for the last two days had stopped overnight. When I reached 7th and I St. I was unable to turn right to park in front of the jail. The street was barricaded at both ends. I was able to park on 7th and then speak with officers at the barricade to tell them about my appointment with a jail staff member. They let me through and when I got to the front door of the jail I could see across the street to the Federal Court House which had a large presence of the National Guard around the building.
I thought that maybe if we could all (myself included) be as generous and caring as this woman had just been that we wouldn’t need barricades or jails or courthouses protected by men and women carrying large guns. Maybe people wouldn’t have to sleep on concrete in the cold and wind. Maybe there would be enough blankets for everyone.
The Sheriff helicopter was already circling over the downtown area. When I completed my task I was once again allowed to get past the barricade. On my way to my car there was a woman ahead of me with a blanket around her shoulders and two plastic bags in her arms. In a corner of the SHRA building this woman noticed a man sleeping with just a light jacket on and his clothes. She stopped, removed the blanket from around her shoulders, and very gently placed it over the sleeping man and then kept on walking. I couldn’t help but be in awe of this woman with her entire belongings in two bags and giving away her only blanket. I thought that maybe if we could all (myself included) be as generous and caring as this woman had just been that we wouldn’t need barricades or jails or courthouses protected by men and women carrying large guns. Maybe people wouldn’t have to sleep on concrete in the cold and wind. Maybe there would be enough blankets for everyone. Later in the morning we gave away blankets here at Loaves & Fishes. I hope she was here to get one if she wanted one. I will continue to hope, pray, and work to bring about better times. I will remain full of gratitude long after this morning for being a witness to love and kindness.