by now you have an opinion. as you should. you can try to focus on gaza and robin williams, but this fire is still burning. we are not yet at our final destination, but we are headed there fast. and rest assured, you can’t be neutral on this moving train. at least i can’t. the most considerable factor in how you see this issue might be race, but i think many more people have chosen sides based on their personal history with police. in the least it is an issue on police power in america and what constitutional protections can be invoked to protect us from being killed by policemen who act as judge jury and executioner. unfortunately, i am on the team called “fuck the police”. i don’t have an irrational hate of policeman, but yes, i do hate them. i do think they abuse their authority always, because absolute power always corrupts absolutely; because they have been given the authority to do so. and they are trained to do so*. i have decent interactions with police. but those are rare and far between. i have never had a good experience. a few weeks ago, i was late night cruising, looking for street tacos, and happened upon a place with a dallas police officer kindly and friendly assisting in the kitchen and chatting up customers. this is a decent experience in my book. rather than intimidate and scare the patrons who had the nerve to eat at 1am, he patrolled from inside the business. it was the cutest thing i’d ever seen. no policeman has ever helped me or saved my life. my stepmom is chicago police, and i respect the work she does, even though the cops back home in chicago are the worst that i’ve ever dealt with. i’ve dealt with a lot of them though because, well, i’m kind of like a bad boy and i partied and traveled like a rock star for most of my 20s. i grew up on the crime side, the new york time side, staying alive was no jive. i was a thug by no means, but a juvenile record for embezzlement is a juvenile record just the same. i stole the money to pay for repairs to moms broken piece of shit car, but that’s neither here nor there because it was still wrong. when i was in college, i had an incident that ended with a bloody box cutter and a swimming pool and day or two spent in jail on some serious shit. it was a life changing mistake, but i did make the mistake. All of the law officials, lawyers, correctional officers, cops and all, were validated if not justified in their snobby snotty racist and rude behaviors. And I’ll even let them slide on some of the constitutionality issues, the weak defense provided by the public defender, etc. since I was guilty. I was a victim of my own circumstances. But those incidents are the only instances where I did the crime and were bookends to my criminal career. I’ve been stopped, questioned, threatened, intimidated and arrested by police who usually had no reason to encroach me or acknowledge my presence far too many times in my life. i no longer wonder if this was unique to me.
when i was 14, a tulsa police officer stalked me in his police car as i walked the streets to the bus stop to ride to my after school gig at mazzio’s.pizza. he crept 5-10 feet behind me until i noticed then when i slid out of the way to the curb, he asked where i was going. i told him where i worked and how i planned to get there because i didn’t realize its none of his damn business what was on my itinerary. but i didn’t know about civil rights then. he asked if my parents were home. i asked why that mattered. he threatened to arrest me for flipping him off. i hadn’t flipped him off i explained that i didn’t see him and i was rapping with my headphones on and throwing gang signs or ‘flagging’ and pretty much oblivious as i always am when walking and moving towards work. he was upset because i didn’t apologize and cower like a little nigger boy should do so he put his handcuffs on me and put me on the hot car. then after a few more threats he sat me on the curb and hopped back in his car, saying i could sit there for everyone to see me. after 5 min, when many neighbors passed by, along with the bus i rode to work, he unlocked the cuffs and let me go, saying that i shouldn’t throw gang signs outside normandy apartments because i could get hurt and threatening me bodily harm again if i didn’t respect the cops. at 14, my growth spurt hadn’t hit yet, so i was all of 5’2, 120 pounds. When I think about that incident now, as a man at 32, i see it for what it was, an attempt to intimidate me and psychologically draw me into the us vs. them mentality. though normandy apartments were rough, they were not a haven for vice. they were amid an enclave of apartments for working class people on the south side of Tulsa and at 4p, they were far from dangerous. there was no reason for that police officer to say anything to me. instead, i’m burned by the memory.
not too long after that, me and my two best friends were hanging in a park past curfew. one of us got a license and a car, so we celebrated with a shot of liquor and a late night spin. We didn’t know parks had curfews, because we were dumb naive teens with a shot of liquor and a roach to share between us. yea when i said celebrate with a shot, i literally mean 1 swig between the 3 of us. sad. After 15 minutes of listening to DMX’s Its Dark And Hell Is Hot, the bright white lights beam into the car and we hear the voices on the loudspeaker yelling to open the windows and stick hands out. My buddy had a blue and magenta IROC with the darkest tints I’d seen, so I the fear in the police officers minds is justified, after all, this is Tulsa, the meth capital of the midwest. They are trained to be scaredy cats with hair triggers*. We are asked to step out with hands up one at a time and we oblige. As I am the smallest passenger, I’m riding bitch in the backseat, so i’m the last to get out. the other two are standing aside with a second officer, as i am patted down by the other when all of sudden the officer standing nearest my friends screams ‘he’s got something in his hand’ and pulls his gun out of his holster and is raising his arm to aim and shoot when i yell. ‘its my wallet’ i yell. ‘you asked me to get my id and told me not to put my hands back in my pocket’. the cop closest to me reaches out and grabs the wallet with a force that hurts my trembling hand, then tsk tsk tsks at me, as if to say, it would have been my fault if i’d got shot. after they called our parents to pick us up, we were free to go. i went to a correctional class for the tiny shot of liquor, which was really just an empty bottle with the aroma of crown royal left once the fuzz showed up
this was the start of my juvenile trouble, and a few months later, as i mentioned, i was caught stealing the cash from the kmart i worked at to fix moms car.serious transgression, with no naivety with the motive. work wasn’t cutting it fast enough and i didn’t know any better. i was 16 and needed a car to get laid, so you judge me all you want. honestly, i was too busy in school or work to get into more any more trouble or be harassed by the police, so they didn’t affect me much when i was in high school. when me and my friends smoked weed, we usually smoked inside or at a very very secluded park with all eyes and watchmen on patrol for police. i definitely smoked weed though, so there were many trips to the quiktrip, the r and r, the circle k, and whatever for cigarillos. i wasn’t a pothead. i was too poor to waste money. i hung with some middle class black kids who hung with upper class white kids who were into the best dro and even though i wasn’t a pothead, i knew good shit when i smelled it, so i endulged. my buddies joke that i got them started on weed with the dirtweed roaches i’d steal from my granny’s stash here and there, but that’s horseshit. it was the summer after our sophomore year, smoking good weed at rich white kids parties and getting head from their rich girlfriends during the last two summers of high school that made the lifestyle attractive. college was on the radar for all and high school was pretty boring and moot, so we looked forward to the after school diversions whenever we touched campus each day. sometimes we’d have beers. sometimes it was just black and milds. but as graduation approached, and the studying waned, the blunts increased. sure, we were smoking 8 heads to a blunt, but when you don’t have a high tolerance for weed and are just looking to take the edge off and celebrate a secondary education done well, 8 is enough. luckily, the police never came in with their bright lights when we were smoking at zink, woodard, or crawford, or whatever empty public park we could find in tulsa county on a friday night.
i made it to college but without a car, so i was so caught in the student life and stuck to the campus, so i rarely saw the town police department. i dont remember having issues with campus police either. however, i was kicked off campus for having a bag of weed. its a long story, that starts with a home invasion attempt to rob me (former dj, not dealer, so um, turntables I guess?) and it ends with me transferring schools to TSU and graduating, so lets not waste time talking about it here. ok, maybe a little. rant- i still can’t believe we allow pot to be a viable excuse for such irrational behavior. i was dropped from the basketball team and forced to move off campus. kick me off because i’m thuggin, not because i’m smoking weed. if you were caught on campus with liquor, but not proven to be under the influence, they didn’t kick you out. they gave you a fine and confiscated it. liquor at 19 is illegal, but hey…
i shouldn’t have transferred. it was a mistake in every aspect. when i got to nashville, i was still not sure that police had it out for me. i wasn’t out of my house enough to be harassed by police, as i went to work and school and back for the first two years of my existence there. it was only as i neared graduation that they were even a figment in my life. and as mentioned, again it was all my doing. after an argument with an associate from punk ass knoxville,tennessee, in which threats with knives and chairs were hurled at me, i decided to retaliate with physical violence, the chicago way, and caught an assault charge. that is how to be a gangster. you see, i expected the person i got into with to follow the code of the street, but he snitched and the police put a warrant on me. if i hadn’t ”rolled through a stop sign” one night when coming from campus, they would have never checked my ID and its likely i would have graduated with the warrant dormant. instead i graduated on probation and fought to clean my record of the misdemeanor before it held back career opportunities. Luckily for me, with my previous work history dating back to age 14, and a college degree, it wasn’t hard to convince my first few employers that it was truly a transgression. I was working and on my way into the world. and at 21, i knew better than to waste time with the petty police and racist legal eagles anymore. it’s too expensive for one. The crime time was behind me. Well, most of it.
Since then, I’ve gotten a speeding ticket or two, but i’ve been a law abiding, tax paying young worker since 2006. Its since then that cops have become an issue for me. I have traveled across Missouri and Oklahoma and Illinois and Arkansas and Tennessee and Texas and in each state I’ve been stopped by some trooper or policeman ‘looking for drugs’ or hoping to instigate an arrest on trumped up charges. there has never been a legal rationale to stop me, such as speeding or swerving. once very frighteningly in illinois, a trooper pulled me to the side of the road, then yanked open my door with his gun drawn at my hip, saying he thought he saw drugs on my passenger seat. no ticket. no warning. just five minutes questioning at gunpoint while the interior of my car got ransacked. at least they didn’t take my car apart like the muskogee police department in oklahoma. they made me stand on the side of the road for an hour as they tore apart my jeep cherokee, bumper to dash to gas tank, ripping out parts that couldn’t be repaired, finding nothing, and upset because i didn’t tell them i didn’t have drugs before they ruined their day. crazy right. some cops like to use the rationale that I have an out of state plate and its early morning, therefore….. Once in Plano, I was stopped by a police officer who literally had to do a u turn and drive back a quarter-mile to pull me over. i was minding my business and driving straight as an arrow, but he decided to trail me for another half a mile before he pulled me over for making a wide right hand turn, at 11p. maybe its because i had a whitge witness passenger, or maybe its because i predicted to my passenger he’d pull me over, but it bugged for more reasons than it should have. i couldn’t forgive the fact that he was also a black cop, which made me feel more ashamed for his racial profiling. he never showed to court and i beat the ticket. and if you consider marijuana criminal, i did have a roach in my car one time. i was driving back from my grandfathers funeral in Illinois and a sheriff pulled me over in crawford county missouri. i could have lied, but with the troubles in my heart and the long drive ahead, i just admitted to the aroma and took my bench ticket for the weed that weighed less than a gram. that ticket cost me $500.00 to beat and even though I was heartbroken from the funeral, and would have loved a pat on the back instead, I still know it was my fault.
I was caught with weed that one time, and deserved to have the cops arrest me 3 times as mentioned before. sadly, i’ve been pulled over or stopped at least 1000 times in my life. i am not exagerrating. I stopped counting, like a man does when he knows he crossed a certain number of lovers. that’s how deep it is. once i was stopped in plano 5 days in a row before i told the 6th officer, i’d only share my id with the chief of police going forward. when i say 1000 times, its not just traffic cops, but mall cops who approach me because i come in with 4 other friends. i mean fake george zimmerman neighborhood patrollers who are given the authority to act as a police, with flashing lights and guns. i mean the troopers who have stopped me on every road trip that i have ever taken that lasted longer than 3 hours. in 2011, i was stopped or detained by a guard or security figure of some sort 75 times, which seems is a large number whether you break it down to being stopped 1.5 times each week. there is always an excuse for the stop but never a warning ticket given or any details documenting the stop. no, its always just the overseer cracking his whip. i get asked the stupidest questions and if i question the police or their intent, i am treated with hostility, as if i am wrong, when we are talking with my freedom at stake and i am aware of the hunger of your prison industrial complex. i mean if you can stick some shit to ruben hurricane carter, ryan thunderstorm mega better watch out. i’ve missed meetings, appointments, tests, and dates due to unnecessary encroachment on my daily life. i’ve lived in all black towns and lily white suburbs but the harassment was not alleviated by zip code or uniform color. luckily for me, i have been fortunate to work, so I was able to pay traffic fines, and overall have never been much of a trouble maker, so i haven’t been on the wrong side of the law often. still, they test me. my brother says i should wear glasses more. police don’t bother black men in glasses he says. i’ve been trying that lately. it seems to mitigate things a bit, so i’ll roll with it until we figure out how to stop this oppressive system that pays and promotes racist individuals to be discriminate and harassing in their mission to protect no one and serve no one who looks like me.
if you’re deciding based on race, i get it. you haven’t been through it but you know somebody that has, or maybe all of your interactions with cops are great and you don’t understand how a few bad people in search of ‘white power’ could flock to the police because the badge allows them to flex their hostilities for pay. with all that said, my mind was made up the moment i heard of the mike brown murder and incidents in #ferguson because i’d been that kid, walking down the street minding my business then to be bum-rushed by overzealous and charged up police with ill intentions who have no respect for my constitutional and god given right to exist. now the facts are the facts and there is evidence that mike brown is also a thief who strong armed an arab clerk at a convenience store, but i’ve had some issues with arabs selling me stale cigarillos and price gouging their patrons, so i can understand why he flipped even though that offense alone is bad enough to keep someone from going to college if he were convicted. at worst, that should have been his situation. kid parties and smokes weed on his final weekend before class begins and gets arrested for stealing some shit, so he has to miss a semester due to the community service work he owes. instead, some racist cop who wasn’t even doing his job, who wasnt on the call, just decided to pick on him and his friend because they were in the street and black. if you have ever been to tulsa, or ferguson, or even nashville and most places not named chicago or new york, you’ll notice not all the sidewalks are paved. some are still just dirt paths. for that reason, people walk in the streets and move to the sidewalks or trails for traffic. though i have never ran from the police, i have been tackled by police for asking questions instead of folding immediately. i am sure if i were shot, they would have argued that i struggled for the gun. if that first police officer would have shot me for walking, throwing hand signs and rapping obliviously into the air, i am sure they would have said i was in a gang. if the cops at the park would have acted on mistaking my wallet for a gun, i am sure they would have sprinkled crack on me and said i was a drug dealer. if i would have been shot when pulled over by the hick police in hickville usa, they would have covered the murder up as they are trying to do in ferguson. this is why i made up my mind when i knew the facts. a fleeing kid without a gun gets killed by the police. that’s american?
there is only one way to tell the story. its a story i know from years of dealing with murderous anxious and racist police in america. it could have been me and it could still be me. i made it to college, unlike mike brown.i was able to grow and learn from my mistakes and as a result today i am a tax paying, charity contributing half decent member of society. But none of my mistakes, especially my mistakes at age 17 or 16 warranted death. That’s why its easy for me to pick sides. One side is dead. One side violated every constitutional right of due process and the other is dead. One side is a trained police officer (not restrained), full of preconceived stereotypes, bravado, and ammo, and the other is dead. One side is guilty. One side is dead. He was a kid. A college bound kid, just like I was when I first noticed that police weren’t as friendly as they used to be back in DARE class. just like me when i first started hitting QuikTrips for cigarillos. that’s why its easy for me to choose sides. i was exactly who this kid was but i made it. i survived all of my cop stops, so far. god forbid the day an officer stops me, escalates the situation, then shoots me. god have mercy on those that try to justify it as anything short of a violation of due process and first degree murder. I shouldn’t have to see it that way, but its true*.
*with black people
addendum – as much as i want to stand back and gawk at what is happening and as much as i’d like to choose sides, there is only one side and that is the people in the community. we should all be on their side. they allowed their political demographics to become disproportion of their cities make up and now they have to fix it. how? from the words of russell brand, take away the incentive for profit. they are locking up citizens for profit because we allowed racist laws to stay on the books for an entire generation so rather than improve the plight of young black men, they put the boot to the throat. attack the private prison industry to tear apart the prison industrial complex. private prisons are regulated by the vote. elect prosecutors that wont protect killer cops. elect police officials that promote police with good ethics and valor. elect officials who champion residency rules. elect councilmen and officials who champion education and businesses, this is all that matters. fuck if they go to your church. you need officials who represent your interests. if they can’t promise at least a shopping mall and more money to your kids school like yesterday, don’t vote for them, regardless of their political affiliation. they built this system to play you and right now, they are playing you and will let a racist cop shoot your kid. can’t truss it.