Friday, July 24, 2009

I Disagree

Far be it from me to disagree with someone I respect like MY, I have to take issue with this statement (in bold):

"Meanwhile, note that racial motivations or there absence have really nothing to do with the nature of Officer Crowley’s misconduct. What happened basically is that Crowley accused Gates, whether for good reason or not, of breaking into his own home. Gates, pissed off, offended Crowley. At which point Crowley, even though he was now perfectly aware that Gates was not guilty of anything, decided to exact revenge by manipulating the situation to create a trumped-up disorderly conduct charge. That’s not professional policing, and it’s not a good use of the City of Cambridge’s law enforcement resources. That’s why the charges were dropped, and that’s why it’s fair to say that Crowley was acting stupidly racial issues aside.*

"* To consider a race-free instance, I was actually treated extremely rudely by an MPDC officer yesterday. I, wisely, just decided to not worry about it and move on. But suppose I’d decided to respond to him being rude by overreacting and blowing up at him. And then he decided to respond to me being rude by finding some pretext on which to arrest me. Neither the fact that the cop’s not a racist nor the fact that I had overreacted would make retaliating with a trumped-up charge the right way for the cop to respond."

Now let me tell you a story:

About four years or so ago, I lived in an apartment building with some of my frat brothers in Harlem, NYC. One night after having some drinks, one of my bros (he's white) decided to go to a bar on the upper west side. So, pretty tipsy, on our way to shit faced, we go to the corner of 140th and Amsterdam, and jump into one of the many Dominican gypsy cabs the circulated in the area. (At this time, before gentrification really took hold, you'd catch hypothermia waiting for a yellow cab).

Anyway, a cab picks us up and we go about a block before a cop pulls us over. As a black kid, with a terror of police that comes from being raised in Harlem, and raised by black parents who never wanted me to have anything to do with cops (including calling on them for help). I immediately sober up, sit up straight and pull my wallet out getting ready to show them ID or my library card if they ask.

One of them approaches the driver and his partner taps on the side of the back seat where my brother is sitting. He lowers the window.

The cop says, "What are you boys doing in this neighborhood?"

Immediately I pull out my ID, ready to show it to the cop, and begin, "We live down the street, and we're going downto--

My brother cuts me off.

"We're buying crack to sell it downtown."

I turned red and begin to shake. "Jesus Christ!" I yell. "No we are not officer."

My brother then pulls his bookbag that is next to him and shows it to the officer. "I have 12 Uzis in her and a kilo of blow, what the fuck do you think we're doing up here? We live here? Or can't white people live in Harlem?"

By this time I have my face in my hands, and I'm thinking that when they pull me out of the car I better remember to shield my head.

"So you think you're a comedian?" The cop says.

"No, you're the fucking joke you racist son-of-a-bitch." My bro shouts. "You think cause I'm white and he's black and we're in a cab going downtown you can just pull us over for any dumb shit. Well fuck you ok?"

"How about we see how tough you are down at the station?"

"Yeah, and we'll see how tough you are when I put a false arrest suit into the NYPD, and shove my lawyer so far down your ass that your kids will be shitting law degrees! So why don't you get back in your car and go down to Broadway and get your rocks off making Dominican's lay on the ground."

At this point I'm just waiting to get the shit kicked out of me. I actually thought that I was supposed to get the shit kicked outta me. And then--surprise, surprise--the cop looks at us for two more seconds and then waves to his partner.

"You keep outta trouble."

And he walks away. The cab driver and I look at my friend like we've seen a fucking unicorn. He shrugs and says.

"Hey, when you're white, you're all right."

Now, I'm not saying that we got off that night because my friend was white--plenty of white people get beat up by the police every day. But I am sure that if my brother had of mouthed off like that, in Harlem, at night, obviously intoxicated, and was black, that chances would have been higher that we would have gotten, at the least, arrested. I'm not saying that it positively would have, but there is no doubt in my mind that the chances would have been higher. And that's the point. Not that police corruption and abuses of power are directly in corrolation to race, but that they intersect, that the chances that cops would abuse their power are linked to the color of a person's skin. It's the nature of the beast, and anyone who can't see that is blind to reality of the nation they live in.

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