A Barbie Revolution (Part 4 of 5)
Written by Ashley Schmuecker:
Finally, the Barbie’s got to me, and I re-packaged them into the boxes I collected from Bev’s pile. We thought things were going great; we had finished on schedule, and had dropped the Barbie’s back into their packages. We hot glue gunned the packages shut (they had been plugged into outlets and heating up the entire time we worked). After we had replaced each liberated Barbie back onto their shelf, we began packing up our tool kits. Tiffany sent out an unexpected mass text at exactly 9:27pm.
“hez comin in! stay in store, will text l8tr”. And we waited. Thirty minutes went by, and we had seen the security kid pass once doing his rounds. We sunk lower onto the floor, behind the closed gate, our head lamps turned off. How he didn’t smell the bronzer, the paint, the acidy stench of adhesive and hair dye, lemongrass patchouli and the sweat of our hard work, that had been blown across the mall by Na’ima’s fan I have no idea. I waited until he was out of sight and sent a text to Tiffany.
“WTF is up? Where r u? Wht happnd?!” Seven, eight, nine minutes went by. The girls and I were beginning to get anxious. The light from my iPhone suddenly illuminated my face and this picture of Tiffany with a naked Barbie doll propped up on her head lit up behind her text that read “got tire changed, had to split, get out fast!”. I sat there, paralyzed. I didn’t know what had happened, but I didn’t have time to ask. For whatever reason, Tiffany had left and was not coming back. All the women were staring at me and after what felt like another ten minutes Harmony said “She split, didn’t she? Now what?” We all knew Tiffany was the person in our group who was the least committed but had the biggest responsibility.
“We wait here until we can get a good idea of how often the guard does his rounds. We time them out, then after three or four times, we open the gate and make a run for the emergency exit”. The weight of the situation and the uncertainty of these women’s futures was pressing my belly into the cold tile floor of that toy store. We waited for another three anxious, painful hours, and the guard hadn’t walked by. I decided we go for it. There was no telling when or if he would ever come by again. I made sure none of us had left anything behind and then army-crawled up to the gate and checked out the mall. No sign of him. I readjusted my backpack and squatting, curled my fingers around the metal links and lifted the gate from the inside. Screeching, blaring, deafening cries came from all sides as I hoisted the gate above my head. I didn’t know it then but Tiffany had warned to get out fast because after midnight the alarm system was activated if any gates were opened within the mall. Bev and Sasha grabbed Joyce (she was a bit arthritic) and helped hobble her out in a slow jog towards the exit door, which was only a few stores down and to the left. The younger girls had wanted to stay and help me close the gate, but I urged them on. I watched as the last of the women turned the corner to go out the exit. I didn’t want anyone to be left behind. I guess I had this leader mentality, y’ know? Well, I heard the mall cop’s black boots beating steadily onto the tile and I turned to see him running from Younkers, past Coach House Gifts, and I finally got the gate shut and started running towards the exit right as he passed Hot Topic. I busted my way out the exit doors and ran straight into three squad cars and guns pointed at my head lamp. Apparently, they knew one more person was running to the exit; the security guard had radioed the information out to them. He said I was potentially ‘armed and dangerous’. As I lifted my hands above my head and dropped to my knees, I felt the cool, cutting metal of the cuffs link my hands behind my back.
What were you thinking when you got arrested?
Where are my girls? Are they okay, did they make it out safely? I was running through all these thoughts in my head and simultaneously throwing my hands in the hair and dropping to my knees. As they were rambling on about my rights, I saw the twins smiling and waving their cuffed hands through the window (their mom was so proud). It was the first time they had protested something they believed in, and had been arrested for unlawful assembly and conspiracy. Harmony was cuffed and getting frisked, leaning against the second car, grinning. It looked like Bev, Sasha, and Joyce had gotten away, but I had no idea where they had run to, especially with Joyce’s knees.
We were taken to jail and charged with a bunch of shit, and eventually the twin’s were released when their mom paid for their bond; she paid for Harmony’s too. None of us told the cops what we did inside the mall. We wanted to wait until the public found out for themselves. I got to spend the night in jail, and I’ve pretty much been here since the trial.