The cream-colored walls of Cell 21 are covered with the scrawlings of the inmates who have passed through that tiny, dimly lit room at the D.C. Jail. Song titles are neatly penciled in above the small cot, and there are detailed murals of a zodiac sign and a stereo set. Just above a small desk, the cell's current prisoner has left his own mark:
"There is no freedom without a struggle. Rev. Douglas Moore. July 2, 1981."
Moore, the rambunctious, outspoken former D.C. City Council member, now has been in jail for almost two months, serving time for biting a tow truck driver on the back during a fight in the parking lot behind the District Building in 1975. A judge sent him to jail for six months, after Moore refused to submit to a psychiatric examination.
"I whipped his ass. I whipped him bad. It's in the record," Moore said yesterday of the fight with the truck driver, whom he says knocked him to the ground and knocked his glasses off.
Now Moore, with time to think, asks, "What makes this so important?" when there are hundreds of fights in the city each year that go unprosecuted. The judge could have sentenced him to work with children or his church to pay for his crime, Moore said. But instead he was told to see a psychiatrist, which he said he never intended to do.
"Why do they say Doug Moore is crazy?" he asked a visitor to his cell yesterday. "When they say I'm crazy, I laugh. I know a lot of good crazy people. Jesus was one. His family said he was crazy."
Curled up in a chair, dressed in a dark blue, prison jumpsuit, Moore dropped his worn brown shoes on the floor in front of him and tucked his bare feet underneath him. He seemed, at times, unusually mellow, almost content with the spartan, religious life that he has found in jail.
If the authorities meant for his life behind bars to be punishment, Moore said, "they have failed." He is in jail because a judge wanted to teach him a lesson, Moore said, "but you can't teach me a lesson about myself."
Like an errant monk cloistered with his books and meditation, Moore said he begins each day before dawn, when the cellblock doors clang back and forth while breakfast is brought to the inmates. He studies Arabic and he writes some "bad, very bad poetry . . . and occasionally some prose that comes out pretty nice."
Once in a while, he says, he will take a few shots from a corner of the jailhouse basketball court, but he won't play on sides.
"I don't run with the boys," Moore said. "I tell them I don't run with anybody."
D.C. corrections director Delbert C. Jackson said Moore requested and was granted protective custody within the jail, which is given to inmates concerned about their safety. It means that Moore does not mingle with the general prison population, and has only limited access to recreational and shower facilities.
"They can't afford . . . to have anything happen to me," Moore said.
On his 53rd birthday last month, Moore said, he had 135 watermelons sent to the jail to be shared by his fellow inmates Moore was fasting at the time , along with 15 cartons of cigarettes Moore does not smoke .
Moore, who is an ordained Methodist minister, said that alone in his cell one Sunday he celebrated communion, using grape soda and some prison bread for the ritual. High on one wall, another inmate in that cell had drawn a large cross.
There is a small window in the thick, blue metal door across Moore's cell where, he said, fellow prisoners pass by as if it were a makeshift confessional. "Young inmates come by and talk to me about their problems and their future," Moore said.
As a jailhouse "pastor," Moore said, "I never ask people what they are in here for . . . . Sometimes they will tell me, but I never ask."
He said that he has tried to teach English to a young Cuban refugee and tried to help an Israeli inmate who wanted to talk to a rabbi. He said he gave a piece of chocolate to an inmate who said it would help him withdraw from heroin.
His friends uptown have not forgotten him either, claimed Moore, once an at-large city councilman. D.C. City Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) paid him a visit, as did Council Chairman Arrington Dixon, the man who defeated him three years ago in a Democratic primary for nomination to the City Council chairmanship. And, he said, Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) has promised to stop by.
"We just talked," Moore said of Dixon's visit. "I'm glad to see anybody," he added, with a word of praise for the council chairman's kindness.
Of course Moore has not lost his talent for feisty name-calling. He said that the judge who sentenced him, D.C. Superior Court Judge Milton D. Korman, was a "senile segregationist" and the prosecutor an "innocent little fellow asking silly questions." Moore likens Mayor Marion Barry -- who has not come to visit him -- to the Greek orator Demosthenes, except he "forgot to take the rocks out of his mouth."
While he is in jail, Moore said, he is working on a book, tentatively called "Twenty-Five Years of Struggle," relating how he has been struggling since he was 13 years old.
"Some parts had been too mushy," Moore said of his literary effort. "I wrote a little piece about love and women, but most of it was hard rhetoric."
He is lonely for some things, Moore admitted.
"I miss the red cardinal, the bluebird, sitting on my terrace with my son, having a glass of wine, Pavarotti and Beethoven, stuff like that," he said. Moore is eligible for parole now, having served a third of his six-month sentence, and his case worker has recommended that he be paroled. But Moore's thoughts about what comes next are vague.
"I have enjoyed my stay here," he said. "As to what I will do in the future, that will be left to the people."