Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I LIKE COPS, SOMETIMES

I need to get this out.

I had what you would call an online buddy, a fellow blogger that I respect, commented to me that based upon my blog and writings, he felt that I did not like POLICE.

Not true, I do believe in a society of law and order. Order and structure is important for me. I am actually very conservative when is comes to how I think, social and public behavior. I have even posted a few blog entries on issues and situations that I felt required a police officer from keeping me from crossing the line with DUMB FOLK. When I was a teacher of high-school students, I knew how important it was to keep order in small and large groups, at work, crowds, and simple home life. Religion has its rules of order, the human body has its rules and so does the universe. So why would I not understand the rule of law and how the police fit into the fabric of America. What I have a problem with is those police officers that feel that upon receiving a badge and a gun, they are indoctrinated in the GOD CLUB.

OK so I need to get more of this out.

As an activist, I often champion the cause of those citizens that have been wronged by the officers that are sloppy with their guns, pushing young kids off roofs, beat suspects unconscious between pick up to precinct, those officers that do not take citizen complains seriously and the one’s that will bark proudly, “I can shoot your N#@* ass and nothing will happen to me!” They are real. They are out there. I have experienced this when working with those with complains and behind closed doors, their fellow officers know they are among them.

I have never campaigned to overthrow the government (OK, maybe I have a little bit) and I have never campaigned to attack or dismantle the police yet at times I have had serious discussions with my family members who represent Law Enforcement about accountability and bad behavior.

In my family I have cousins that serve from state district attorney to detective and a few friends that are beat cops and in all of my relations we are good. I call upon them for advice as well as understanding as to what and why the law works the way it does. Loopholes are usually the subject of most conversations and how both sides use them to benefit the other. Often we are at odds when I decide to champion a social cause that may require me to possibly be in handcuffs yet they do respect that I am a person of logic and not passion; which translates to, “I know he ain’t gonna be out there doing no stupid shit where I have to be pulling favors to get his Black ass out of jail.” Yeah that’s me, Mr. Cool Under Fire. I know that was a low blow but where I live and have lived, too often the police shoot first and cover up immediately. This behavior UNFORTUNATELY is a carry-over from the Rudy Giuliani Administration. Those ex-army, steroid pumping, Staten and Long Island, Tony Soprano Wannabe, under paid and over worked, Urban People scared and just plain old trigger happy, they all had open house under the Giuliani years and since then, they have gotten older and bolder in their methodology.

If not for a few groups, the overkill of Black and Latino blood and prison over crowding would have escalated to numbers unheard of in the history of New York. Even during the Political trail, Rudy Giuliani champions how he brought down crime in New York yet never tells how the number of unjustified cases were thrown out and dismissed in record numbers under his watch. It was all a game to so many and still others who are walking the street as victims because their false records have not been expunged. In ignorance, many of the young men and women do not know how to clear their names and are now caught up in a whirlwind of easy arrests and unnecessary busts. As an activist, I deal with these issues constantly and often I am at odds with those officers that work with the “GOD” complex.

Again I am not talking about all police officers, just the ASSHOLES that buck the legal system and like Black people who decide to live their lives off the beaten trail, both sides are deemed guilty by association. My stresses only comes when I am dealing with a BAD COP, I often see just over their shoulder the GOOD COP that is forced to remain silent in the background while the others dig the good reputations of others into that grave of mistrust and revulsion. The end result, communities and individuals refuse to trust the police and harbor generational fear (even from those of the came Color and Creed) and the office fear those communities and those that have their backs out in the field. It’s not an easy position to be in and I DO RESPECT THAT.

So why do I write this? Well it wasn’t because of my blogger buddy, it is more for me to vent. Today I had some running around to do. You see, I am in the process of settling into a new place so my travels have taken me all over the City of New York. Well on my way back home I had to hop the A train when I saw this kid swiping Metro Cards. For those who do no know, Metro Cards are these little plastic cards people use in place of tokens to travel the buses and trains in the greater New York area. Well, this kid was swiping several cards and like many New Yorkers, we see guys like this and often know they are people of desperation, often homeless, addicted of drugs or people looking to capitalize on those of misfortune (people who drop or loose their Metro Cards). Overall, it’s an activity that New Yorkers on a whole do not care about because it’s a NO HARM DONE activity. So while I dug into my pocket to get my empty Metro Card out so that I can replenish it with a few dollars I see this short round Black woman dressed thuggishly walk up between the kid and me. Along side was another sloppily dress Latino. Looking at him I knew he was Undercover, a really bad one at that. So I knew something was about to go down.

The Woman then says to the kid, ‘What up yo?’, which threw him off because the way they rolled up on him, he thought he was about to get a beat down. Long story short they started asking him what he was doing and why, in which he replied he was only swiping Metro Cards. At this point I decided not to get a new Metro Card and step back to see how this all was going to play out.

Now before I go on, let me inform you that picking up an “abandoned” Metro Card from the ground is not a crime. To have more than one Metro Card in your possession with monetary credit on them is not a crime. To swipe multiply Metro Cards at any given time is not a crime. So my point is, what the kid was doing was not a crime or a Quality of Life issue. If anything, with the hundreds-of-thousands of discarded Metro Cards on the grounds throughout the city, the litter alone is one BIG violation as well as lack of direction for providing a place to recycle and discard of MTA material. Bottom line, the people who pick them up to test the worth of them actually do the city a service by removing them from the streets and subways.

So as I watch the officers begin digging into the kids pockets (without asking), the kid asks why are they (the two officers) bothering him to which the woman replied in her deepest thuggish voice, “We got a complaint that you were standing here too long.” That was when I looked at the token booth where this shriveled up White woman with coke-bottle glasses for eyes sat watching the show. White “fear”, LORD I can’t wait until that also shrivel up and die.

So as the Latino officer starts checking more pockets and then the kid’s hood asking if he got any drugs or needles on him, he finds more Metro Cards. He then asks the kid, “What are these?” to which the kid says, “Come on man, they’re cards yo, why yall playin with me?

The officer begins looking at them and tells his partner, “I think they are all new and possibly stolen.” She tells him to test one and see. Which he does and after about 15 cards he sees that they are all duds – empty valued. They go back to searching the kid some more.

While they pulled and searched and pushed the kid around he caught my eye with a sadness of pure defeat and I felt for him but I knew at this point, there was no need for me to not get involved because at that moment, the officers were doing “their job” and to interfere would be an offense on my part (see I know the law and my place where logic over rules passion). So then the time came when the officers asked the kid his name and he answered. They asked where he lived to which he answered, “I live in a homeless shelter.” At this point, their treatment of him was ampted up.

So you a drug addict too?”, the female officer asked?

No, my mother and me lost our place so we shared a spot in Brooklyn at the homeless shelter.” , the Kid told the Officers.

Is she on drugs?”, she quipped back. The Kid ignores her. “What you got a problem now with these stolen cards?”, she instigates.

I didn’t steal no cards I told you I pick them off the ground. The things are all over the ground”, The Kid says exhaustedly.

But they are not yours. Did you buy them?”, the Latino cop informs.

They on the ground? Why you bothering me about shit that’s on the ground like garbage?”, The Kid asks.

Then at that moment, the Latino cop swipes a Metro Card and says, “This one has $2.00 on it”.
The female cop then turns back to the kid and says, “You got a card with money on it. What’s up with that?
Its on it, then it's one that I found.”, The Kid answers.

At this point a third cop, scrawny as Hell dressed in khakis, Gap brand shirt and a backpack walks over with a smile and full of excitement asks, “What we got here?
The Black cop says, “Stolen Metro Cards.
The Kid jumps in, “I ain’t steal no cards yo.
You got any felonies?”, the White cops ask.

Then I look at the kid and the kid looks at me and I begin the shake my head to signal not to answer that question. He missed the signal and answers, “Yeah but it was a long time ago.”

Turn around!”, the White cop orders the kid. He turns around and out came the handcuffs. The kid, deflated, looks at me and says, “Damn, all I’m doing is trying to get home and have enough for my mom yo.” And they escort him off.

Up until the felony question I could have helped him and I knew that once he answered that (which by right, he didn’t have to), he had not and did not violate any laws. Even if he didn’t answer the question and the officers handcuffed him, I could have volunteered to represent him and had him released before he was hit with a bullshit Quality of Life Charge, a Bullshit law Giuliani invented to charge people to increased the income of the city through fines and build a crime database to skew the crime statistic of New York City. I also understood that officers often ask this question to cover their Asses and use it as an excuse for charging suspicion for their actions.

Do I think these officers were doing their job? Yes. Do I think they did their job correctly? No, Their judgment was misplaces and it was also harassing. To play on the ignorance of people who do not know their right is Bullying. Bottom line, they could have easily had the kid throw all of the cards in the garbage and told him to move on. Equally they could have taken the cards and given them to that OLD ASS WRINKED BITCH and told her to dispose of them and told the kid to move on. In the end, they needed a BUST for something since the levels of crime in NEW YORK is so low, the only true crime in the city are QUALIY OF LIFE crimes. To have officers locking people up for smoking too close to a doorway, someone screaming to get someone’s attention across the street, someone dropping an orange peel on the ground because they missed the trash can, someone sitting on a milk crate, arresting 13yo kids for spitting off a roof are not crimes that require 4 officers, three squad cars, a patrol wagon and guns drawn. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it is VERY common around here.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the Black cop looked at me several times as I perched myself across from them in my all Black attire; my black kufi, my Black “Free Jena 6” tee-shirt, my GREEN MILITARY COMBAT JACKET decorated with my BLACK POWER, MALCOLM X, and NO JUSTICE NO PEACE pins, My BLACK RIMMED GLASSES, BLACK BOOTS and solid expression like … “Yeah you just try it.” I would have been too much energy to tell to move along.

I said all this to say this, that kid’s only crime was that he was POOR and IGNORANT of his rights and that made him ripe for an easy arrest, perfect for those Police officers to take advantage of.

I try to learn lessons every day in life. This morning I thought it would have been from the conversations and results of the New Hampshire Caucus but it came from a fellow blogger and the helplessness of a Brother looking for a break.

There is no shame in not knowing, the shame lies in not finding out.”

2 comments:

Rodney said...

Why don't the police roll up on me like this? As bad as I've been searching for a lawsuit so I can retire to a farm in Georgia.

Shazza Nakim said...

You don't look homeless enough to give you free money Baby Boy.