Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cops and Brothas

Oscar Grant

I was going to write about the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland a few nights ago but, I didn't. I kept seeing great blog posts about it and saying that I didn't need to but, I couldn't hold this in any longer. I think of Oscar Grant, shot to death while handcuffed... I think of Sean Bell, an unarmed man who was shot to death the night before his wedding... I think of Fred Hampton, shot to death while in his bed sleeping... I thought of Michael Griffith, Rodney King, and so many others. In each case, the offending officer thought that HE was in danger.

Sean Bell

I also think about how, as a young man, I was constantly stopped by the cops for either being some place I wasn't supposed to be (according to them... I always felt as though I belonged anywhere I happened to be) or for violating the curfew. They would always catch me, just as I was crossing 60th and Girard Avenue and attempting to run through Carolls Park to my neighborhood on the other side. The cops had a little trick they used to pull back then... they would take you to a "foreign" neighborhood, drop you off, and then you had to fight that neighborhod's gang and run back to your own neighborhood. I risked having to fight some gang, possibly robbed, and then face my mother's wrath for being late. I tell you, some nights, I was just better off staying in the house!

My mother always told me and my brother to never talk back to the cops, stand perfectly still, and never make any move that could be considered "threatening". I guess she knew. She drilled that in my head especially, because I had attitude "going to bed" and I was more than likely to get smart with the cops. I, to my credit, never gave the cops any lip... After they frisked me and determined that I was no threat, they usually let me go about my business. I violated the curfew so much, that the cops in the 19th District got to know me on a first name basis. Sometimes, they even gave me a ride home. Still, I often wonder when I would hear about the Sean Bells and the Oscar Grants, if that could have been me. One night, it surely could have been...

I was 29 years old and engaged to be married. My future wife and I went to dinner out in a Philadelphia suburb. These two cops roused me and through me up against the wall. If they had been Philly cops, it would have gone down different but, these suburban yokels were cowboys and it was one of those nights when I just wasn't with this "dog and pony show". One cop, a big beefy baby-faced guy who looked a few years younger than me, acted as if he'd just caught John Dillinger... frisking me and roughing me up. He could tell by the look on my face that I didn't like it and he seemed to enjoy it even more.

His Partner was a little older, tried to be a little more humane, and said "Sorry sir, it's just that you resemble a burglary suspect". "Oh, He was black, huh?" I said back rather tersly. "Hey, lose the attitude, okay?" said his baby-faced partner. I looked at him with fire in my eyes and my right hand was trembling but, I didn't say or do anything else. They gave me back my wallet, my keys, and they let me continue my dinner. I was so enraged that all I could do was hold back tears. What could I have done but gotten myself arrested at best, killed at worse?

It was embarrassing because it happened when I was out with my fiance. Luckily, she was inside the restaurant and didn't actually witness it. I know that cops have a tough job and I by no means hate cops. I just hate killers who hide behind a badge... I hate killers who hide behind a military uniform... and I hate the cowards who justify their actions and won't do anything about the problems (i.e. politicians) I feel blessed that I didn't become an Oscar Grant or a Sean Bell. Lord knows, the way I traveled the streets at night, I easily could have been.


Kofi Bofah said...

The cops have been sweating me from birth - it seems.

I have too many stories.

I am not a fan of Police.

Angel said...

All over the world brothas have to fear the police its sad.

Sorry you had to go through that Keith!

They didn’t even report the Oscar Grant thing over here, this is the first time I'm hearing it!

Simon Bastion said...

I just read the links to both cases
keith..This is horrible. Such a shame that such injustice still exists in this day and time.

James Perkins said...

Great and Informative post Keith

Jazzy said...

I feel you on this Keith..I went through some of the same things as
a teenager. This is a good and informative post.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

This is our lives Keith, What all of us have endured out here in these streets..I'm really feelin this.

Tate2 said...

Great,Great Post Keith..The information on the links was real informative too.

Toni said...

Keith, You never cease to amaze me.
You keep coming up with posts that strike nerves..This was one of those. Keep bringing it brother.

Halo said...

Hey Keith, another good one.

Angie B. said...

They used to pick up my brother for violating the curfew too and drop him off in bad neighborhoods..
He told me the same thing.

Vanessa said...

The question is..What are we going to do about this? It's been going on to long. It's really ,really time for a change.

Lisa said...

I wondered if you were going to address this..I'm so glad you did.
As usual, you put your own unique spin on it. Good job.

Sunflower said...

Very Informative(Thanks for the links with the back up information on the case) Great Post!

Swaggie said...

Hey Keith, This is an everyday occurrence for young Black and Latino men..Nothing new here..I'm with Vanessa..we gotta do something about it.

Raven said...

As a mother of two young sons I am already preparing my soon to be 8 year old what may come one day. I hate that I have to do it, but I don't want him being a "Carlton" and find out the hard way that no one cares who you are if all they want to see is your color.

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

I hate to hear stories like yours.

My son is 3 and I hate the fact, I have to tell/teach him not to make any sudden moves, etc when dealing with the police. At his age now, he loves to see a police officer. He will go up and talk to the cop. Years from now, he might not have that love.

Strongblkwmn said...

I have an 18 year old son and have been schooling him on how to act when he walks down the street or what to do if the cops stop him for years. I have a friend who told her son never to run down the street because you never know what happened and he might "fit the description." It's a shame that these are conversations we have to have with or young men.

It's sad, but most people I know do not trust the police. Their job is suppose to be to protect and serve but, unfortunately some of them think a badge gives them permission to do whatever they want.

Rich Fitzgerald said...

Fortunately for me, I didn't deal with police abuse of power growing up, but I knew it existed. I learned from other's experiences that officer friendly, wasn't so friendly to the black.

damn she pretty (i) said...

The first time i was arrested, i was in the wrong place at the wrong time! When i got to the precint there were cops there that were SHOCKED that i was even there/arrested! They gave me a bullshyt reason for my arrest. They mine as well have said,

"look miss your black and you shouldn't be hanging out on staircases with other black people after 9pm"

because i believe that to be the reason for my, arrest regardless of what they told me!

I was let go within four hours after being put in a dirty ass cell. I am currently in litigation trying to have my mug shots removed from the system as well as my fingerprints. The bastard arrested me to make his, quota! FUCK THE POLICE. period.

Anonymous said...

@Damn She pretty-Such an attitude-lololol


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