September 28, 2006

Making cities black and poor: the hidden story

From the Progressive Review, January 2000

The review recently cited a column by Dick Case of the Syracuse Herald American which revealed that the practice of redlining mortgage loans for American cities began in the Roosevelt administration, far earlier than is generally realized. A former Syracuse city planner, Emanual Carter, who had come across the practice while reading "A Prayer for the City" by Buzz Bissinger, told Case, "I think this program almost guaranteed the demise of our cities."

Now, Jane Levey, editor of Washington History magazine, points out to us stunning corroboration contained in a lecture delivered 23 years ago to the Columbia Historical Society by historian Kenneth T. Jackson. Jackson, in his address to an organization that is now the Historical Society of Washington, outlined what was, in effect, a federally-organized program of urban residential apartheid.

One of the New Deal's reforms had been the creation of the Home Owners Loan Corporation, which provided federal guarantees for home mortgages. Jackson reported that between 1933 and 1936 alone, the HOLC supplied funds for one tenth of all owner-occupied, non-farm residences in the country. The FHA, and later the VA, took over the task.

There was a huge need. Before the FHA and VA, first mortgages usually covered no more than one-half to two-thirds of the appraised value and the term was typically only between five and ten years. By the end of 1958, the FHA had enabled nearly five million families to own homes and helped more than 22 million to improve their properties.

At the same time, however, the legislation discouraged the construction of multi-family units and provided only small short-term loans for repair of existing homes. This meant, Jackson noted, that "families of modest circumstances could more easily finance the purchase of a new home than the modernization of an old one."

While such restrictions are well known, other aspects of the program have been long hidden, such as the FHA weighting system by which underwriters would judge a neighborhood by such standards as "protection from adverse influences," "freedom from special hazards," and "appeal." The FHA Underwriting Manual warned that "older properties in a neighborhood have a tendency to accelerate the rate of transition to lower class occupancy" and suggested that apartment owners should look to the suburbs, preferably a site "set in what amounts to a privately owned and privately controlled park area."

Jackson continued:

"The greatest fears of the Federal Housing Administration were reserved for 'unharmonious racial or nationality groups.' The alleged danger was that an entire area could lose its investment value if rigid white-black segregation was not maintained. To protect itself against such eventualities, the Underwriting Manual openly recommended 'enforced zoning, subdivision regulations, and suitable restrictive covenants. In addition, the FHA's Division of Economics and Statistics compiled detailed reports and maps charting the present and most likely future residential locations of black families." In a March, 1939, map of Brooklyn, for example, the presence of a single non-white family on any block was sufficient to result in that entire block being marked black. Similarly, very extensive maps of the District of Columbia depicted the spread of the black population and the percentage of dwelling units occupied by persons other than white."

Beginning in 1936, an inventory was created, largely by those in the real estate industry, and color coded maps were drawn with neighborhoods rated A through D.Case described the system:

"* Grade A neighborhood: Up and coming. In demand. Well planned. Color it green.

"* Grade B: Completely developed. Still good but not what people who can afford more are buying. Blue.

"* Grade C: Buildings aged and obsolete. "Infiltration of lower grade populations." Experts say "lower grade',' citizens were blacks (called 'Negroes' by surveyors), Jews and foreign born whites. C neighborhoods 'lack homogeneity.' Color them yellow.

"* Grade D: Detrimental influences. Undesirable population. Mostly rented homes with poor maintenance, vandalism, unstable families. This is the red area."

Jackson noted that "black neighborhoods were invariably rated 'D.'" These were neighborhoods described with such phrases as "the only hope is for demolition of these buildings and transition of the are into a business district" or "this particular spot is a blight on the surrounding area."

Secret "residential security maps" were drawn up for every block of a city. These maps were available to lenders and realtors but were kept secret from the general public. Some of these maps, including those for DC, Jackson found to be missing from government archives.

The suburban bias of the FHA was extraordinary. For example, 91% of the homes insured by the agency in metropolitan St. Louis between 1935 and 1939 were in the suburbs. This practice would continue into the 60s and even the 70s. Jackson found that in 1976 the federal government had supplied three dollars in loans for suburban St. Louis for every one dollar to the city itself. Between 1934 and 1960, $559 million was loaned for suburban construction in the St. Louis suburbs but only $94 million for the city itself, a suburban per capita loan in 1961 of $794 vs. an urban one of only $126.

While the housing programs of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations helped to create America's huge middle class, it also secretly created extraordinary victims, primarily black citizens and the American city. As Jane Jacobs would put it, "Credit blacklisting maps are accurate prophecies because they are self-fulfilling prophecies."

September 27, 2006

The autistic confederacy

The French students who drew a connection between contemporary economics and autism have made one of the more profound observations of our time. Technically, the kind of autism exhibited by leading economists - and (although the students did not note it) leaders in politics and media - is called higher functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome. Here are some professional descriptions:

"Asperger's Syndrome, also known as Asperger's Disorder or Autistic Psychopathy, is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. These characteristics result in clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. In contrast to Autistic disorder (Autism), there are no clinically significant delays in language or cognition or self help skills or in adaptive behavior, other than social interaction. Prevalence is limited but it appears to be more common in males . . . Adults with Asperger's have trouble with empathy and modulation of social interaction - the disorder follows a continuous course and is usually lifelong . . . "

"There is a general impression that Asperger's syndrome carries with it superior intelligence and a tendency to become very interested in and preoccupied with a particular subject. Often this preoccupation leads to a specific career at which the adult is very successful . . . "

Nothing so well describes the monocular mania over "free markets" and related clich├ęs that has characterized the thoughts and words of our elite since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. What better description of our typical political or media leader than: "Has an average or above average intelligence. Has highly developed language skills. Lacks social interaction skills. Exhibits inappropriate behavioral response to social situations. Lacks understanding of humor or irony . . ."

There has never been the slightest logical reason for believing that all of life's mysteries could be explained by reference to quarterly reports, yet over the past couple of decades this has become a wildly held assumption of those in charge of running our country, from the think tanks to the White House to NPR.

Critics have struggled vainly to suggest the contrary with a notable lack of success. The reason is now obvious: they have attempted to defeat pathology with logic. It doesn't work, not because the single-factor obsessives are idiots or even evil, but because they are mad.

And it's far from just a matter of Reaganomics. Politics have come to be characterized by the serial introduction of small ideas of even smaller rationality but which soon find themselves elevated to iconographic status in everything from op ed pages to the federal budget.
Among them: the fictional huge federal surplus, the even more fictional Bush tax cut, the false depiction of the status of Social Security, the enormously expensive capture and imprisonment those who prefer marijuana to vodka, the very autistic assumption that counting student test scores is the same as educating students, and, most recently, an obsession with anti-terrorism to the detriment of every other aspect of American existence.

Key to the Asperger style of politics and media is the constant repetition of thought patterns and the imperviousness of the practitioners' thinking to outside fact or argument. The technical name for this is perseveration which has been defined as "the persistent repetition of a response after cessation of the causative stimuli; for example, the repetition of a correct answer to one question as the answer to succeeding questions," an almost perfect description of what regularly occurs on your average Sunday talk show. A less technical but even more generally apt definition is "continuation of something usually to an exceptional degree or beyond a desired point."

How did it happen that we have become cursed with a perseverating elite that endlessly repeats the same thoughts to whatever is said to it, and which insists on pursuing ideas well past any possible usefulness? Well, one theory is that the SAT has played a role, helping to choose an establishment that, while seemingly diverse, is actually disproportionately comprised of those of above average intelligence but who think life consists mainly of coming up with the right answers. In their own ways, both Clinton and Bush (not to mention Ted Koppel and Jim Lehrer) have manifested this disconnect between "policy," i.e. the right answer, and something called life which is in the end an imaginative and moral creation and not merely a technical problem.

This is a matter of no little concern. Those of us still willing to let the empirical, the non-quantifiable, and the creative into our lives are being bullied, twisted, and threatened by a politically autistic confederacy at every level from the obdurate local bureaucrat to CNN with its propagandistic mantras parading as news to a president who doesn't know when to stop saying "terrorist." At its worst, the privatized and gated logic of our leaders is of the same ilk that once created a nation of good Germans willing to follow the pathology of a few.

Silently, without argument or recognition, the logic of our nation has drastically changed - from "show me" to "tell me," from experience to propaganda, from the empirical to the virtual, and from debate and discussion to addictive perseveration. Our major choice at the moment is whether we, too, shall join the madness.

The role of respect in peace

If you deconstruct the language of those who Bush would have us believe form the axis of evil, one finds not so much megalomania as insecurity, hurt feelings, and bitterness over their global inferiority.

This has become particularly apparent with the rise of Chavez and Ahmadinejad, two national leaders who have proved unusually adept at using contemporary media to make their case. They represent, perhaps, a new generation of national figures who - all politics aside - make the staid habits and behavior of the Council on Foreign Relations genre of diplomacy seem pointless, lifeless and antiquated. In other words, while Bush is still stuck in the politics of a Masterpiece Theatre plot, Ahmadinejad, despite the pull of his traditional culture, is working overtime to join the hip hop generation.

At the core, the language and behavior of a Bush or Blair is based on notions of purportedly deserved power and how the less powerful are supposed to behave towards their betters. The language and behavior of Ahmadinejad and Chavez is popular, populist and evangelical and directed at winning the very hearts and minds of which Bush speaks repeatedly but doesn't have the faintest idea how to reach.

Thus we find the Islamic Republic News Agency reporting that Ahmadinejad plans to come to the UN and speak the same day as Bush and a day before Chavez. Both and Chavez will fly from Havana after meeting with the longest plank holder of power of our era: Fidel Castro. This isn't diplomacy; this is show business.

Castro, in his early days, also spoke at the UN. But, just as Mitt Romney recently refused state police protection for the ex-president of Iran, so the hotels of New York refused space for Castro. The result: Malcolm X found him a hotel in Harlem and a key step was taken in the alienation of a man who, with just a little respect and effort, might not have tormented every American president since by refusing to die or fade away.

The U.S. is in a similar stage with Chavez and Ahmadinejad. It is slamming every door that possibly opens between our country and theirs, gratuitously shunning and dissing them along the way - with the media helping on the ridicule end. But, as Castro proved, it doesn't work.

What can work is respect.

A letter from Ahmadinejad to German prime minister Merkel is remarkable not only in its words of respect expressed towards her and her country but in the clear longing for a similar respect for himself and his own land. This guy is smart and articulate and desperately wants the bigger guys to admit it. You don't have to agree with a single political point he makes to note this.

For example, even if one fully supports the creation of Israel, there is still room for empathy for those displaced to make way for it. Those who mediate for a living will tell you that you must hear the pain of both sides. Not just the threats felt by Israelis, but those felt by its neighbors.

And you might even find yourself faintly nodding your head as you read: "You are familiar with the pains and sufferings currently afflicting our world. Today, the pain and suffering of the people of Iraq that come from occupation, absence of security and daily acts of terrorism are tormenting the entire humanity. Relentless interferences of some bullying powers in the internal affairs of other nations, antagonism toward the inalienable rights of nations to have access to more advanced technologies, subjecting nations to permanent threats by relying on arsenals of chemical and nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, opposition to popular governments in Latin America, supporting coup d'etat and dictatorial regimes, absence of due attention to Africa and taking advantage of the power vacuum there to plunder their wealth are among the problems facing our world today."

Respect is important because it is one of the few doors wide enough for peace to enter. It is the antithesis of the bullying, bombastic, holier-than-thou approach of the Bush regime. It is also futile to speak only to one's friends or to establish impenetrable concessions one's opponents must make before you sit down with them. Now that we have seen how pointless such approaches have been, it is perhaps time to try something else.

Chavez and Ahmadinejad are leaders of weak countries with a strong need for respect. It does not hurt our oil supplies, our military strength or our economy to grant them this. Our continued refusal will, just as it did with Castro, only makes the times harder and the hard times longer.

The hazards of estivation

A reader - and Democratic candidate for a New England state legislature - writes: "I have been a subscriber to both Progressive Review as well as Undernews for some time now. Recently the issues have become sporadic and now nothing. As a convert to SHAFARism I feel my 'faith' has abandoned me. Woe is I." [1]

There are two explanations, neither particularly satisfactory. The first is that the Review has been in its normal estivation mode. [2]

We usually announce this but what with 40% of Americans not even able to take a vacation this summer - some because they are running for state legislature - and with that ubiquitous excuse, a war or terror, your editor thought it better to pretend that he was still hard at work in the steamy capital rather than enjoying the pleasures of the Review's New England regional headquarters, overlooking beautiful northwest Casco Bay.

At odds once again with mainstream culture, your editor prefers the values expressed by Paul LaFarguein 1907 in The Right to be Lazy & Other Studies: "Jehovah, the bearded and angry god, gave his worshipers the supreme example of ideal laziness: after six days of work, he rests for all eternity."

The other explanation forces me to reveal one of the deepest secrets of journalism, which is that news is largely the artificial creation of reporters, editors and other media hacktoids. I discovered this years ago when I found I could date the seasonal end of news by an abrupt drop off in press releases arriving in our office after June 15. Now, with the Internet, I sense the same phenomena marked by the sudden paltry flow of RSS headlines and a large number of journalist-readers announcing by e-mail that they are out of the office until a date certain. Something similar happens every Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are probably the safest times to be alive, since no terrorist would waste a bomb knowing that so much of the media was off visiting relatives and not caring about what happened.

I will, however, say in my defense that - as is usual in rural and waterfront communities - it has been impossible to be inert for long. For example, this summer we have had two power outages of more than 8 hours. Standard practice is to call Central Maine Power and punch in your account number. This allows CMP to aggregate the reports and narrow down the possible wire malefactors under its control. It also wins you a phone call when the lights come back on. One night the call came at 2 am. I tried a switch but it didn't work, so said to hell with it and went back to bed.

But as I lay there, visions of melting ice cream in the fridge ballooned in my brain until sleep became impossible. I arose and messed with the Gen Tran switches from my portable generator to no avail. I then got in my car to find the wires I knew had fallen in the nearby woods and as I turned out of the drive the woods became alive with an orange glow.

With the power restored further up the line, our fallen wire had apparently done its mischief and started a fire accompanied by a strange electric moaning sound. It's not the sort of thing the brain - especially one previously only filled with visions of melted ice cream - can deal with easily alone at two am.

But I pulled myself together, called the local volunteer fire department, assured them that the blaze was only about three fireplaces large, and waited. Within minutes a small truck was there, the fire had almost burned itself out, and CMP was on the way.

At 4:30 am I got another call. Still half asleep I said in full greeting, "Thank you very much." The woman at the other end laughed and replied, "I guess you were expecting me."

I have also been deep into a locally hot and totally unanticipated issue during which I have spent two and half hours at the state attorney general's office, written one op ed for the Portland Press Herald, two letters to the editor and come up with a pull-out quote used by another newspaper. I have also testified before the Freeport planning commission citing James Madison among other things.

Unlike easy federal issues like Iraq, gay marriage and abortion, local matters are far too complex to sum up in a few sentences. Suffice it to say that it involved some residents of a development being unhappy with a semester program in coastal studies for 32 high school girls being planned for a small corner of what was formerly my parents' organic beef farm, which they started in the 1950s. The farm is now a non-profit (that I once headed), struggling to stay alive and burdened by too many decrepit but historic rural structures. The coastal studies program would result in one of these burdens being lifted from the farm as well as some additional income. But some of the increasingly suburban neighbors thought it would be a travesty of rural life.

The issue has made me realize how far rural reality has drifted from urban consciousness. There is a romantic notion that farms simply exist when, in fact, some 90% of farm family income these days comes from non-farm sources.

My investigations also reminded me of how important rural education has always been to rural America - from one room school houses to land grant colleges.

As I noted in a letter to the Falmouth Forecaster: "According to Freeport's zoning ordinance, uses within the RRII Zone are 'limited to those which are compatible with its historic and rural qualities.'

"Well, schools were a prolific part of the rural landscape including several in the area such as the Litchfield School, one near Flying Point, and one within easy walking distance of the proposed coastal studies program. . .

"One town in Maine had 14 schools in the 19th century. Typically such schools were placed about three miles apart, hardly an oddity in the rural landscape.

"You could not have had American agriculture without rural schools. They were inseparable. One study reports, 'During the 1930s about one-half of all children went to school in rural areas, where the proportion of children to adults was higher than in the cities.' . . . In short, if you really want to be true to the landscape's 'historic and rural qualities' we would need more and not fewer schools."

I concluded my talk to the planning commission by saying that "Finally, if you wish to preserve historic buildings, farmland, and open space, you must constantly be educating a new constituency. You can not have the things you value yet fail to teach our children their value. If we had been blessed with many more coastal studies programs over the years we might well not be in the ecological danger we now face."

And, I might have added, we might have fewer power outages as well.

So there are several weak excuses for the seasonal entropy of the Review. Shortly after Labor Day, I hope to ease myself back into hyperactivity - unproductive as it seems to be these days. Meanwhile, gentle reader, I appreciate your constant patience and forbearance.

[1] SHAFARS are comprised of - according to a Review article some time back - skeptics, humanists, agnostics, free thinkers, atheists and rationalists.

[2] Estivation is the same as hibernation except it occurs during summer.

The hazards of cleaning the attic

I'M A LITTLE LEARY of the planes to renovate the National Museum of American History. There seems to be a notion abroad that the problem with museums is the space they're in when, in fact, it's often more a matter of what's on the walls and on the floor.

I recently spent some time in the recently renovated Museum of Modern Art, which is full of new space. I suddenly had a subversive idea. I walked into a large gallery and stood in the middle of the room, about as far from the works as they would have typically been had I purchased them for a new McMansion on the California coast.

I found myself alone. Close to 90% of the others in the gallery stood about one to five feet away from the paintings, reading the labels, examining the brush strokes and looking thoughtful. I had positioned myself where I assumed many artists would prefer me to gaze at their work, but I felt like a philistine. I also had a hard time seeing the paintings behind all the people crowded around them.

The point is that people often behave differently than how others - such as artists and museum directors - think they should. In fact, the crowd in MOMA would have been perfectly happy viewing the art had it been hung inside a railroad car. I stood there and gloated about the millions that had been spent to make me happy in my "space."

Here's how Jacqueline Trescott of the Washington Post describes the plans for NMAH:

"After four decades of sending visitors through a maze of hallways and galleries, the museum is planning to redo the core of the building, adding 10-foot-high 'artifact walls' on the first and second floors -- glass cases that will display hundreds of items from the museum's vast collections. The center of the 750,000-square-foot building will have an atrium with a new skylight and a glass staircase that will allow visitors at the entrance from the Mall to see all the way through the building to the entrance on Constitution Avenue. . .

"The announcement of the new plan for the building comes four years after a blue-ribbon commission issued a report sharply critical of the museum's layout and organization. The report said the museum didn't meet any obvious test of comprehensibility or coherence," adding that even its employees got lost in the building. It suggested old-fashioned timelines, directories of the events of American history and a more coherent narrative.

"The panel was most concerned that the museum was claustrophobic, uninspired and cluttered. 'Now it has opened up the lines of sight horizontally and brought in light vertically,' [commission chairman Richard] Darman said."

In fact, the museum as it now exists is one of the most popular in the world. It is indeed cluttered, just like an enticing attic or basement; and it is sometimes uninspired but never claustrophobic or incoherent. It represents, with surprising honesty, the anarchistic chaos of American virtues.

Now, I admit I'm biased. The museum is filled with things I like, starting when you first walk in the door and ahead of you are the chairs, tables and counters from the ice cream parlor down the street from where I lived as a kid. Then there's the steam engine that is so big they had to build the museum around it and the upright transposing piano made for Irving Berlin. Berlin was self taught and preferred to play on the black keys, just like Mr. Platt, my anthropology teacher, who also gave me pop piano lessons in high school. In another room, there's a big navigational buoy sitting like a Roman statue to warm the heart of ex-coastguardmen like myself and an actual piece of Route 66 as well as a mid 1980s minivan just like the one I used to have.

Yes, I'm biased, but approximately three million people each year find similar icons with which they can recall, relax, reflect, and bore their families talking about.

But planners prefer things neat, comprehensive and with a coherent narrative. Not to mention timelines, even if nothing much happened in 1837 and even if time lines are not a particular useful way to organized as multifaceted a culture as America's.

And they love that space. Says Trescott, "The museum is planning to redo the core of the building, adding 10-foot-high 'artifact walls' on the first and second floors -- glass cases that will display hundreds of items from the museum's vast collections. The center of the 750,000-square-foot building will have an atrium with a new skylight and a glass staircase that will allow visitors at the entrance from the Mall to see all the way through the building to the entrance on Constitution Avenue."

The problem here is a combination of too little and too much. Once I've spent ten seconds seeing all the way through the building to the entrance on Constitution Avenue, what will I do next? Probably ask a guard where they've put the trains. On the other hand, ten foot artifact walls with hundreds of items - based on other such exhibits I've seen - will quickly wear me out. Such things remind me of the back room of shoe stores and I'll probably soon ask a guard whether they still have Irving Berlin's piano.

There is a tendency in the museum world these days, as elsewhere in America, to use design as a substitute for evidence, style as a substitute for reality, empty space as a substitute for substance, and abstract words as a substitute for specific knowledge. Ironically, it all costs a lot of money that could better be spent on creating the sort of alternate realities that actually draws people to such places.

The sad thing is that the Museum of American History already understood this. Now it seems to want to forget it all.

MORE MUZIM MUSIN'

September 26, 2006

The Attica that wasn't

On September 13, 1971, 500 New York state troopers stormed Attica Correctional Facility on orders from Governor Nelson Rockefeller to end a four-day standoff following a prisoner revolt that included the taking of hostages. The police fired 2,200 bullets in nine minutes and before it was over 29 inmates and ten guards were dead and at least 86 others were wounded. One year later, there was a prisoner revolt at the Washington, DC Jail during which the director of DC Corrections and a number of guards were taken hostage. But, unlike Attica, no one was killed. Perhaps this is why so few remember what happened on a night when judges, politicians, U.S. Marshals, prisoners, and hostages all gathered in Courtroom 16 to see what could be done - brought together by a single judge who wasn't afraid to talk when others wanted to shoot. The peaceful resolution of the DC Jail uprising was one of the most extraordinary stories I ever covered and my contemporary account follows. I was planning to tell this story anyway, but the events of September 11 let it serve a new purpose - as a parable about the alternatives that are available to us even in the worst of times.

THE CAST

Marion and Mary Treadwell Barry are civil rights leaders. Marion serves on the School Board and is one of the most popular leaders in the city. He will later serve on the City Council and as mayor.

Walter Fauntroy is the city's non-voting delegate to Congress.

Tedson Meyers, who is white, and Willie Hardy, who is black, serve on the DC City Council, a body appointed by President Richard Nixon.

Luke Moore is a popular local black figure, later U.S. Marshall for the city.

Charles Halleck is a white judge in the Superior Court, the son of a former Republican Speaker of the House.

Del Lewis is a black civic leader, later head of the local telephone company and then president of NPR.

Petey Greene is a black activist.

Judge William Bryant is a highly respected black judge.

Kenneth Hardy is the DC Corrections chief, being held hostage by the rebellious prisoners.

Walter Washington is the appointed mayor-commissioner. Four years earlier he had avoided bloodshed in the 1968 disturbances by refusing orders from the White House to shoot rioters.

Sterling Tucker is the city council chair.

Joe Yeldell is a member of the city council.
The courtroom, number 16, is crowded. Prisoners, lawyers, Marion and Mary Barry, Walter Fauntroy, Tedson Meyers, Willie Hardy, Luke Moore, Charles Halleck, Del Lewis, Petey Greene. People talking during the hearing, witnesses saying things seldom heard in court . . . When Judge William Bryant recesses court, people smoke in the courtroom . . . Ken Hardy, DC Corrections chief, hostage, is there, but you don't notice him at first. . . . William Brown, facing an armed robbery charge, gets up before the judge and tells him of the inequities in his case:

Judge Bryant: The moving finger having writ, I can't erase it.

Brown: I knew there was nothing that could be done for it. I'm thinking of the others - the little baby brothers of mine.

Bryant: The problem is that so many baby brothers have put people at the end of a pistol and shot them.

Brown: Then the alternative is to ruin them for life (Turns to audience, voice rising) You say nothing can be done about it. Our little babies are over at the jail and it's really pitiful. You say they put a gun in their hand. No. Y'all put a gun in his hand. 'Cause all you do is talkin', talkin' talkin'. You gonna put a gun in a 15 year old's hand and the police will kill him like that boy with the bicycle. We're tired over at that jail. A rat will get tired and come out of his hole knowing that death awaits him. We don't want to harm Mr. Hardy. We love Mr. Hardy. We don't want to kill nobody. We don't want to hurt nobody. We are tired of people putting us in positions where we act like animals . . . Fauntroy, it was the first time we seen him. Walter Washington wasn't concerned. Marion Barry came right away - he always comes but he doesn't have the power . . . We're going to keep on, and keep on, and keep on until somebody die. Then they gonna say, 'Wow , they were serious.'

Applause, right-ons, a warning from the judge. Another prisoner: "What we came here for and what we're getting is two different things. Nobody thinks this is real. We didn't come down here to rap with you on your high pedestal. This was like a dry run." . . . Hardy is leaving the courtroom, looks awful. Petey Greene is helping him. Outside a TV man tries for an interview. Greene screams at him: "The inmates let him go. That's how good he is. Man's up all night and you talk about motherfucking cameras." Greene is crying. Hardy is on his way to a hospital with what seems to be a heart attack . . . Back at the jail, prisoners and other hostages await word of the emergency court hearing that had been called following the rebellion early that morning. Recess. Everyone is tired. Eyes seem to stare without seeing. Jail guard hostages sit at counsel table glum and silent . . . Judge Halleck starts to rap with some of the prisoners: "The first man who gets a hose on them, you get a habeas corpus and come into my court and I'll stop it." Says a prisoner: "They don't pay any attention to courts. They're ignorant over there." Halleck to prisoner waiting eight months for trial: "Sixth Amendment guarantees right of speedy trial." To another: "Last Friday I had fifty felony cases." Learn later that Halleck offered to go down to jail to speed up processing of complaints . . . Sterling Tucker comes over, "The guards are talking about going out. Nobody is listening to them" . . . Reporter says there's word of a disturbance over at the Women's Detention Center. Prisoner comes up to reporter:

"Did you say they had another riot?" "Over at the Women's Detention Center." "Oh yeah, right on!"

Mother of youth in jail opens up. She has six children 22 to 16. She was separated from her husband when the baby was one year old. Now the baby is in D.C. Jail, swept up in the trouble. The mother works two jobs, one twelve hours a day, another on weekends. The kid is locked up on a charge of having raped and strangled a 7-year-old girl. Been over at the jail 2 months waiting trial. Kid was run over by a car when he was little. Never seemed quite right since. Only child to get into serious trouble. "If he didn't do it, they should find the one who did ," the mother says. "If he did it, I want him to be punished but I want him to get help." . . . A few days later the Post would interview the mother of the victim. She has eight children, twenty down to ten. "I tried to raise them right. Many times I told them how easy it is to get in trouble and how hard it is to get out. And then I tell them, if you do get in trouble don't call momma, 'cause there's nothing I can do."

The prisoners have their say. Judge Bryant offers to fix things up a bit. Just a bit. Segregate the juveniles. Do something about food and temperature. Hurry up the suit against the jail now pending In his court. Is it enough to save the hostages?

Back to the jail. The prisoners go in a white bus. The crowd outside the jail is smaller than it had been earlier in the day. Wait. Rumor that cellblock #2 has been seized. Wait to hear that denied. Joe Yeldell shows up with a psychiatrist to begin screening inmates to see who belongs at St. E's [the mental hospital] . . . That's about 10:33 p.m. . . Ken Kennedy, Northeast factotum, waits along the police line. Earlier he'd been inside. "Congresswoman Chisholm played a great role," he says. Kennedy had brought six inmates from Lorton to the jail to help in the negotiations.

11:35 p.m. Mary Treadwell Barry comes out from the jail. "They want two brothers from the black press." "What does that mean?" asks a white reporter.

Decide on one black reporter from print media and one from TV. Problem with TV crews. Union rules call for three men and at best only one is black. WTTG recruits a black minister behind the police line to serve as light man. Others follow suit. Union technicians are getting uptight. Crowd gathers around Mary Barry. Union man returns to police lines: "They've agreed to pay one day's pay to a sound man and electrician at NBC and WTTG." Susan Truitt of WTTG covers herself: "If I don't get sound on film [from the amateur operator], I'm not paying for a soundman. " . . . Nine hostages and a frigging union dispute is going on outside . . . Deputy Chief Owen Davis is playing out his role of being the top bully on the force, threatening a reporter who stood in the wrong place. But this is a sensitive situation, requiring subtlety, and they're keeping Davis out of the foreground.

Now here's Marion Barry. They're going to let all the reporters in. "Show your press passes and go in quietly. Nothing is happening in there. Don't rush in."

Into an anteroom behind the front door. The door locks behind us. A dozen CDU men with tear gas are lounging in the room. The door to the visitors' rotunda opens and there are the prisoners; the lawyers rushed down by Judge Bryant - 30 or 40 of them including James Heller and Ralph Temple of the ACLU; District Building types like Dugas, Duncan and Yeldell; Walter Fauntroy and Sterling Tucker; negotiators Ron Goldfarb and Julian Tepper; guards; cops; all milling around a cavernous room under huge, bad 1940's murals including one of raising the flag at Iwo Jima. The echo is jamming out the voice of the prisoner who is on a table trying to explain that the man beside him had been beaten by a prison guard while the court hearing was in progress. They're mad. What is happening? A turn for the worse? Why are we in there? Why are some of the most powerful and some of the weakest men in the city wandering around this towering hall listening to each other, shouting at each other? It's like one of Fellini's movies. And there's nobody around to explain. Why have the prisoners seemed to be talking sense and the unjailed seemed bound and gagged? There's a news conference going on, but you have to be at mike's length to catch the words. There's a prisoner yelling at jail head Anderson McGruder, who's not saying anything back . . .

No it's not a movie. But the set of a movie, maybe about Attica, during a break. In real life, congressmen, councilmen and newsmen don't mill around a jail hall with two hundred prisoners. Prisoners don't go up to the jailer like at some reception and tell him off . . .

The press has regrouped. Standing on a table, you can see a guard talking to the mikes: "I feel okay. They treated me all right." The hostages are being released. It is real, after all. Julian Tepper says the inmates lived up to every commitment. They released the hostages because "we promised to stay until their problems were dealt with." Earlier that day Charles Rodgers, deputy chief of corrections, had said, "If there's one shot, we're going in there and shoot all 182 of them [inmates in the rebellious cellblock]. Now negotiator Tepper is hugging Rodgers.

Time to go home . . . What had happened? Was it a real event - or just a commercial from the dispossessed - "We'll be back after this brief reminder from the prisoners at the D.C. Jail." Was it a victory for the jailed or a successful exercise in crisis management . . . Shirley Chisholm was beautiful. Marion and Mary were. So were Tepper, Hardy, Goldfarb, Petey Greene. "Judge Bryant, handled it beautifully," said a civil rights lawyer. Beautiful. Beautiful. Unless you are still in cellblock I. . . .What's beautiful about bailing out bureaucrats or a Congress too scared or mean to introduce simple decency to the city jail? It was just a dirty business compelled by the need to save ten lives. Ms. Chisholm, the Barrys, Tepper, Petey Greene don't want cheers; they want something done about the jail.