To be honest I had no idea Jereme was in jail until I read his Instagram post announcing he had just gotten out this past Go Skateboarding Day. I vaguely remember scrolling past the TMZ tabloid article about his arrest back in April on the Slap boards but since then the whole incident had entirely slipped my mind. So it was with some surprise, as I sat parked near Stoner Plaza with my daughter napping in her car seat last Saturday (AKA GSD), that I stumbled upon his post describing his three-month ordeal.
Just as I finished reading it, I looked up to see one Paul Rodriguez Jr. skating alone up the street towards my car—save for a camera equipped Range Rover just ahead of him that would document his imminent arrival at Stoner, then continue to follow him and the 16,000 kids chasing him to the LA Courthouse, where Nike SB had not only liberated the stage and ledges—but added in a rail and Hubbas.
By the time I got home from completing my dad duties, and was about to head out to try and grab a courthouse session of my own, I caught a photo on Paul's Instagram of Jereme—now riding backseat with the P-Rod convoy for their third stop at Hollenbeck. Not a bad first day out Sherm. In an attempt to find out exactly what happened—at the nightclub in Hollywood, during his three-month incarceration, as well as during his improbable first day of freedom on June 21, 2014—here in Jereme's own always eloquent words, is the full story of his latest gambit.
Intro and Interview: Mackenzie Eisenhour
Can you break down the incident that led to the arrest?
A fight occurred, a guy got jumped. This all happened at a table I was at in a popular nightclub called Lure. It generally is, and on this specific evening, was overly crowded. My roommate at the time was in this fight, and at the moment is the primary defendant. I along with several others am a co-defendant, though I am the only co-defendant who got arrested. Reason being, they came to the place we live two weeks after the fight looking for him, and took me with as well. Scene playing out like so: we have a nice few bedroom place, our other roommate who lacks any experience whatsoever in dealing with the police, lets them in without a warrant. I at the time am happily in bed, my goddess-like girlfriend goes to the bathroom, leaves my door cracked open, and with Swiss like precision timing, the door swings open, and instead of standing there with supple olive skin and perfect features, there is a plain clothed detective in her place with a gun on his hip (she’s an X-Man I thought…the damn morphing one!) turned out not to be true. He then asked for my roommate (wipes brow) “I’m not sure where he is.” Detective: “What’s your name?” Me: “Jereme.” Detective: “Rogers?” Me: “You’re good.” Detective: “You still skate?” Me: “With grace.” Detective: “You still rapping?” Me: “Just getting started.” (you’re a little too good I thought to myself) Detective: “Stand up for me.” which obviously leads to me in handcuffs en route to what turned out to be my unexpected three month trip to Los Angeles County jail, or, Hell on Earth.
What were you charged with?
Assault with a deadly weapon (I guess the bottom of a shoe qualifies) and GBI – Great Bodily Injury. Though I am a man of peace at this stage in my life, I’ve come to the liberating truth that all is one, and I harm none…not even insects whom I literally catch and walk out of my house (though I won’t kill them, I don’t let them live rent free either).
Can you describe the time in jail? What was the day-to-day like?
It was useful. No matter where one is on earth, time is still the most precious commodity we have, so I do not kill time no matter the case, I cherish it and use it. Though naturally, that wasn’t an experience I would have chosen, it is a violent, ruthless, compassionate-less place. I saw men get jumped everyday, ironically without any police interference. Or as inmates would put it; boo bopped, which is a way inmates discipline other inmates for often the most minor of mistakes…as little as sitting at the wrong table or sharing food with another race. In LA County, one of the only jails I’ve heard about who does this, they have what they call politics, which is racial division they’ve created. Blacks run with Blacks, Whites with Whites (who are called woods), South Siders with South Siders (Mexicans who represent the gangs from out here), Pisas with Pisas (Mexicans from south of the border generally lacking English), and Others with the Blacks (others being generally Asians and anything else that doesn’t fall under the previous categories). They call their day-to-day routine “Program.” “Program time homies! Wake up, brush them teeth, shake them sheets!” (No one ever shakes their sheets, whatever that means). You’re up by 10 a.m., and gotta be up until 10 p.m. “Program Time.” Rigorous mandatory workouts. Plenty of still time locked in one dorm with a 100 to 150 other inmates facing everything from a year to life. Each dorm has reps, the main leader for their race who organizes the boo bops and whatever else they find necessary. Each race has to discipline its own race.
Worst incidents? Are the guards worse than the inmates?
There were some riots that broke out, one in the dorm next to us on the day I was getting bailed out after being in for a month and a half. I seen a guy getting rolled out on a gurney covered in blood and then got helicopter lifted out of there. Ironically I wound up in the same dorm as that guy about a week later because I didn’t get out. While in the release tank, they pulled me out and sent me to court on a suspended license warrant I had, which I thought was gonna be nothing, and they gave me another 160 days, virtually 6 months, at which time they sent me back to County and re-housed me in a new dorm, no longer eligible for bail because I was now serving more time on old charges. I originally got 90 days for a DUI Gun Charge I got in 2008 when I was young and reckless, which I beat and just got a reckless driving charge.
Did you have any legal assistance throughout?
Just a public defender. There wasn’t anything I could do about the time given, and she’s doing a good job at the moment. Though the current charge is a maximum of 7 years, I’m not worried about it as I know I’m not guilty, there’s a video and plenty of witnesses. Though I have compassion for the guy who got hurt, I have no respect for the lack of investigative work on behalf of the police who arrested me on some mere he said she said, without even waiting for the video, which spawned a TMZ article about it. A defamation of my character. It is not “innocent until proven guilty” in California, but “guilty until proven innocent.” They book 1,000 people a day into County jail, with what seems to be little concern whether they’re guilty or not, and then treat them as criminals with little rights and throw them in the shark tank.
What was your overall take on the criminal incarceration system? Is it fair (loaded question)?
It is necessary, but by all means, not only not perfect, but not good. It needs immense work and improvement to heed results in the nature of actually improving the character of man. At current time, it is primarily a money system, operating behind the mask of a justice system. To explain in short, it is a business, an empire. They make money for every night a prisoner is housed, money for every time they put one on a bus and transfer them or send them to court, and in various other ways. They refer to prisoners as “the bodies” “we gotta move the bodies to wayside.” The bodies are their equity. The more bodies, the higher the stock, and like any good businesses, they don’t like to let their stock drop—and they don’t.
I was told you wrote a ton of material in there. Did it help creatively?
Yes. I wrote a whole album which is gonna be called Rhythm And Poetry; an acronym for RAP. It’s as if you worked on one muscle without ceasing for a decent amount of time. I couldn’t record or do anything else. I was trapped. So I was forced to write if I was gonna do anything musical at all, and it heeded me better results than I could have ever expected. I’m very proud of the body of work, it’s the first time I just wrote a whole body of work, or had a whole one in mind as opposed to just recording songs. It came naturally. I was asked to rap stuff in there and people were psyched on it. Some wrote stuff down, recited stuff, thought stuff was material of known artists, etc. It helped me enhance my comfortability in rapping for others, which I never preferred to just making music. If I could rap comfortably and pleasingly for convicts, I think I could manage doing so for skaters and whomever else. I rapped some verses for Paul, Biebel, Chance, and others when I got out and they were definitely surprised and impressed with the progress.
Jereme’s latest video, Cold World. June 2014.
What got you through it?
My stillness of mind. Pouring water on any fires that occurred as opposed to fighting fire with fire. They have a saying in County, “If you can make it through LA County, you can make it through anywhere.” It was definitely the worst place I’ve ever been, and had I been at an earlier time in my life, I would not have handled it the way I did.
Was it a trip to get out on Go Skateboarding Day of all days?
Yes…I had no idea. I just happened to call Paul that day and ask him what he was doing, and he said some thing for Go Skateboarding Day and that I should go. Without any reluctance on my part, I did, and it was a beautiful thing. I experienced immense love. Though I also experienced love in jail as well. I signed a couple hundred autographs in there, cops and inmates alike knew who I was, which was surprising and gave me some wiggle room, though I still had to follow the politics, couldn’t fuck up, and that energy projected on me, did naturally irritate some.
How good did it feel to skate after all of that?
It felt wonderful. I had a new complete, and new shoes, and it just felt like that. It didn’t feel like I hadn’t skated for months. I actually felt more comfortable on the board than I have in a while. All in all jail was a gratitude enhancing experience for me, one which I grew through and am better for. I would not take it back, though certainly have no interest in recreating or reliving it. Once was enough for me.
Footage from Jereme’s first session back.
Jereme, P-rod, and Mikey Taylor’s part in A Time to Shine for old times sake (’05).
Follow Jereme: @jeremerogers
Follow Mackenzie: @deadhippie