They take me to a police station. No English is going down at this point. When they arrest me at the airport, nobody speaks English. Your only hope is this translator, and you don’t know what the hell he’s translating. His ear isn’t even trained to capture my English. So you’re saying shit and he’s repeating it back in Arabic, and the officer is looking at you, and you don’t know what they’re talking about. Then they give you a paper, the paper is in Arabic, nothing in English—I didn’t even know they read from right to left, it took me a long time to figure this out—and they tell you to sign it and then you can go home. But I didn’t know what the paper said! They’re translating what I’m saying—I’m saying I don’t know what’s going on. I never been here, I don’t know nobody here, I came here for a music show—but I don’t know what they’re translating, if he was saying what I was saying. You just don’t know. And it’s discrimination—I had my hair down and I got dreadlocks, I got tattoos.
This is Thursday, November 19. Everybody had gone, because I’d already said I’ll take care of this and see you later. We’re American, so we think you’re gonna get up the next day and get bailed out. But it don’t work like that in Abu Dhabi.
They say, “Grab some extra clothes because you’re gonna be here for a couple of days.” So I was like, “A couple of days? I thought y’all was takin’ me home right now!” Then they take me to the jail cell and I never came back out.
When you first get in there, you don’t know what’s going on. First of all, I’m the only American. It’s Pakistanis, Saudis, Afghans, Kuwaitis, Iranians. And then you got some Africans, like Somalians, Nigerian, Egyptians. All these people was the people in jail. So when I come in, the first thing I’m seeing is like, How am I going to communicate with these people? I don’t know what to do.
One of the guys who could speak a little bit of English, he was saying, “U.S. Embassy, call the U.S. Embassy.” But I don’t know how to get my U.S. Embassy’s number, how to get a calling card to call them, what kind of money they use. I don’t know nothing. I’m just in here.
The next day you go see a prosecutor. There’s no rights. When they arrest you, they don’t have to say you have a right to this, you have a right to an attorney, you have a right to remain silent. There’s no judge, no jury. They assign you to a prosecutor, and the prosecutor can just do what he wants with you. They don’t have to tell you anything. They don’t even have to explain what the charge is.
You get a piece of paper, and the paper is in Arabic. I still don’t know exactly what it said to this day. But I would go find somebody who could read Arabic and knew a little bit of English. It said something like: You gotta go to court on such and such date and you’ve been charged with drugs. It could’ve been cocaine, it could have been heroin, it could have been marijuana, they treat it all the same over there. So I’m in there with people who had 10, 12, 20 kilos of cocaine from Brazil. There’s an old man in there right now, 67 years old, he stole a box of candy from the airport, and he still in there. He’s still in there right now because his paper just said he stole something and now he’s in the same category as the people who stole 850,000 Dirhams. So there’s an old man in there right now, I can see his face, and he’s going crazy over a chocolate bar!
So they give you this paper that tells you in seven days you gotta go to court, but then you only get to say one word. They ask you, did you bring a drug into this country? You don’t get to explain. You just get to say yes or no, and you have to say yes because if you say no, then there’s a whole ‘nother case going on. So you say yes, and then they give you another paper for 14 days. Then you get thrown in Dubai jail. I don’t care what you did, how minor it was, you can’t do anything for the first 21 days, no matter what.