“This is a unit, soldier! A team! Everybody is, does and acts the same! As one!”
“Yes, sir, but…”
“But, nothing! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, Are you too good for us? Is getting a little dirty beneath you?”
“Not at all, sir. I just…”
“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, maggot! Make that latrine shine!!”
“Happy to, sir. But, I think there’s been some…”
“Drop and gimme 20, Private Hawking!”
“What seems to be the problem, here?”
“You’re not supposed to be on this property. See that sign?”
“What’s your name, ma’am?”
“Okay, hands behind your back.”
“I said hands behind your back! You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in…Get your hands off my face!!! I’ll taze you! On the ground! On the ground, NOOOW!!!”
“You are charged with trespassing, failure to comply with a lawful order, resisting arrest and assulting a police officer. How do you plead, Ms. Keller?”
Ladies and gentlemen, the tone of this piece may be a blend of humorous and sarcastic, but the message and accusation is crystal clear. This IS the type of manner in which police interact with “a person of interest” or “suspicious behavior”. There are documented examples of such “looking fishy” was considered probable cause to stop, harass, and eventually traumatize a ten year old boy the the point of terrified crying and swearing. He was riding on the handlebars of a black man’s bicycle – the “driver” of said bike being about maybe in his 20’s. It was midnightish. The cops saw that the two had a rapport and obviously knew each other to some affection and trust. THE KID WAS RIDING ON THIS OLDER BUDDY’S/OLDER BROTHER-TYPE handlebars, for Christ’s sake!
The police officers decided to (to use the term that a reporter doing a “ride-along” overheard) “light ’em”. Basically the put their flashers on and prepared for a stop and talk. Treating them, especially the older guy, immediately as a bad guy, pervert or criminal, they ORDERED him to shut his mouth. Hello – since when in continuing to talk a violation? Since when does a cop have the right to just stop you and tell you to sit down and shut up?
I REMIND YOU: THEIR “PROBABLE CAUSE” WAS A WHITE BOY AND A BLACK MAN RIDING A BIKE TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!
EVENTUALLY….the man said – look, I’m gonna reach into my pocket and pull out my cell phone. You can call the boy’s mother and check this out.
Blah blah blah. They called the boy’s mom – who’s also the “intimate friend” of the black man being harassed. “Yes, Noah is my son, and where is he?? Isn’t he with Cleave???!!! What’s going on??!!!” Yes, she’s married – technically, but that arrangement seems to be dissolving – the NPR piece didn’t focus on it. But, anyway, that’s is none of the police’s God-damned business. The boy was obviously in very good hands, and with somebody she KNEW was good for her son and what not. I mean…when a ten year old starts to cry and scream hysterically “Man, if you’re gonna arrest ‘Cleave again and get me in trouble just because I’m white and he’s black, I’m gonna kill myself. My mom says not to make no trouble and that means she’s been harrassed and says I gotta stop bringing attention to myself and …blah blah blah……she’s gonna send me to my dad’s in (some other state, I don’t remember).
THAT is NOT protecting and serving!!! This behavior has GOT to stop being touted with stupid ass fucked up bravado that’s all “hey – they’re riskin’ their lives every day – you gotta be tough on the street”…and all that phony bologne BULLSHIT!
I wish they had arrested him. I wish they had gone all Rodney King on him! I wish the boy has grabbed one of the cops pistols and shot both “public servants”. Oh wait. No – no I do not wish that. These days – a ten year old could probably get the chair!
The cops then tried to give some LAME ASS lecture on helmets and bike safety, and the two of em – the boy still going through the post-crying sniffles and shivers and what not – rode off, just as they had been doing, heading to the mother’s house as planned.
The kicker??? Upon getting back into the cruiser – again, this RIGHT IN FRONT OF a ride-along reporter! – one of them remarked – “yeah – still looks fishy to me”.
How do you plead, Ms. Keller?
Ms. Keller? If you don’t answer, you’ll be in contempt.
I’m already in contempt. This system absolutely SUCKS – and not because “it’s the best we have” or “it’s the best we can do”. Detaining and harrassing a man and a young boy, because the man was “cycling while black” is a thorough and absolute disgrace, embarrassment, moral destruction and a total affront and slap in the face to basic decency and respect. It absolutely is not the best we can do. If it is – then we need to CHUCK the whole profession and find a new way to govern ourselves.
And anybody who says otherwise is too lazy or stupid to do the real work – the CULTURAL, societal, it-takes-a-village work that is required to make police a valid, trustworthy and functional institution. With judgment and ego like that – NO cop has the right to “assess probable cause” – let alone carry a GUN!!!!!!!!!!!! Jesus! We’re in more danger BECAUSE of their presence than without it. There have GOT to be standards! And the telephone number for every town’s police department’s Internal Affairs Division (as well as the telephone number and contact information to every state’s Board of Bar Overseers) needs to be publically disseminated at least quarterly, and public service announcements with that information put out on and in every single form of mass media that exists today.
Until then, too many cops are just authorized criminals and gun-totin’ bullies with badges, and we don’t need ’em. Humanity can be and MUST be better than that!