Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend. He was stopped at the border crossing at Port Huron, Michigan by U.S. border police for a search of his rental vehicle. When Peter got out of the car and questioned the nature of the search, the gang of border guards subjected him to a beating, restrained him and pepper sprayed him. At the end of it, local police laid a felony charge of assault against a federal officer against Peter. On Wednesday, he posted bond and walked across the border to Canada in shirtsleeves (he was released by Port Huron officials with his car and possessions locked in impound, into a winter storm that evening). He’s home safe. For now. But he has to go back to Michigan to face the charge brought against him.
The charge is spurious. But it’s also very serious. It could mean two years in prison in the United States, and a ban on travel in that country for the rest of Peter’s life. Peter is mounting a vigorous defense, but it’s going to be expensive – he’s effectively going up against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he needs the best legal help that he can get.
…On Tuesday, I received a panicked email from Caitlin Sweet, telling me about Peter’s arrest. She told me to find Dave and I did, and for the next two days the two of them wrangled lawyers, called jails and judges, and focused on bringing Peter home. They barely slept. (I know I didn’t.) Tuesday afternoon, I burst into tears just thinking about my friend in pain and in cuffs and in jail. Finally, Peter was allowed to leave. But as Dave points out above, the fight is not over. Peter needs money.
Thankfully, he has a PayPal account where you can give him some.
I don’t really want presents for Christmas. I don’t really need more DVDs or more books or fancy soaps or a new pair of boots. All I really need is the knowledge that the best damn lawyer money can buy is working his ass off to keep my friend free. Mom, this means you. Do not get me anything for Christmas. Please donate it instead. I can go without, this year.
The same goes for everyone here. I don’t really have any concept of how many readers I have, but let me put it to you this way: a lot of my stories are free. Consider this your opportunity to pay for them. Because if you ever liked them, if you ever derived any enjoyment from them or if they ever made you think, it’s partly Peter Watts’ responsibility. Peter is a member of my writers’ workshop. We get together pretty regularly for anime binges and beer. He’s the one who always asks the tough, nagging questions that make my stories better before they’re even written. I don’t do everything he tells me, story-wise, but I know I’d be a poorer writer without his influence. And every minute he spends helping me is another minute he’s not working on his own revenue stream. So please, even if it’s not very much, give it.
When I needed Peter, he was there for me. I phoned him last October after fainting at a blood donation clinic, and he dropped everything to come and get me. Then he spent the afternoon fetching me food and blankets and episodes of True Blood. That’s the kind of man he is — the kind of man who takes in strays. I know that if our situations were reversed, he would do for me exactly what I am doing now.
More fundraising will follow. Those efforts will be promoted here, and I’ll let you know if there are other ways that you can help. But for now, please just think of this as a gift to me.
UPDATE: My mom, the lovely and talented woman who raised me, has in fact donated to the cause. Thank you, Mom. I love you.