Posts Tagged ‘Rahm’

Driving While Black…The unlucky American reality

My family and I have spent this past Sunday being lazy and pretty much recuperating from my stepmother’s birthday celebration. As the day drew itself out and night rushed in, I realized I would not be cooking dinner. With it being All-Star weekend, I suggested my family of four go to Friday’s where we’d be able to eat and finish enjoying the game.

 

Afterwards, we were headed home in good spirits. But all was not that smooth, as I had to give my children their hourly reminder that sibling bickering and name-calling was absolutely inappropriate and against every spiritual law of family.  Deep into the discussion, I noticed a CPD unmarked detective’s car languishing on a side street about 2 miles away from our home.  in our neighborhood (where we CHOOSE to reside, you see a lot of those, yet the crime rate is ridiculously higher. One would presume more cops means less crime, but I digress).

 

At any rate, I instinctively got a small tug of anxiety and tenseness. After all, my husband was driving and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the scenario, something about a Black man driving after dark (well anytime, but surely if it is nightfall) alarms racist cops that this might be their lucky day. And the luck is certainly not on the Black hand side. All that to say, I was only mildly surprised when we were pulled over tonight. I became incensed when the pig comes up and demands ID without initially stating why we were pulled over. Furthermore, it was quite obvious when questioned about why we had been stopped,  he tried to intimidate and made up an obvious lie about a warrant. That is a bold-faced lie, my husband has NEVER been arrested, nor detained nor any criminal activity in his entire life! But on this night, my children became near hysterical as they witnessed their father falsely detained in the back of a police car, a place for criminals.

 

Next time you are out, count the number of drivers who are pulled over for “traffic stops.” Pay attention to the number of drivers asked to step out of their cars for such stops. Of those who are stopped, ask yourself what is the common factor? If that does not paint the picture for you, recall the lives of Latonya Haggerty, Robert Russ, Cornelius Ware, or even Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and the legions of others whose lives have been snuffed out over alleged probable cause.

It doesn’t matter what kind of car. The number of passengers, nor the very obvious fact that a man is driving his wife and children home will make any impression on the “officers.” There is an “us against them” mentality, and often times tax-paying, law-abiding citizens caught up in this game of numbers.

While in college, when my husband and I were home on school breaks, we drove everywhere in his Chevy Monte Carlo….nothing fancy, but def a popular car of the times. It was also a police magnet. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times we were pulled over, car seats ripped out, he and his friends searched. Never given a ticket (not like he was actually speeding or violating any traffic laws). Nobody ever hauled off to jail (not too much crime you can get into when everything you do is with family and close friends who all attend college with you). So what conclusion can we come to?

 

I’ve never been one to accept this assumption of power and authority inherent regarding most police forces. I’ve been a victim of police brutality myself too often, most memorable being slapped, arm twisted and handcuffed by an officer who was no less than 6ft tall 230lbs. All this as a 17yr. old who stood 5ft tall weighing 94lbs.  Not to mention the numerous occasions my teenage male friends were stopped and searched by police as we walked to/from the store or ran errands for our families. Some were standing on corners or sitting on our front porch. Only thing that deterred police from harassing them was another group of Black youth had caught their eyes first.

 

My past pushed me to understand my rights for myself and my community. I enrolled in more than 12 hours of criminal justice classes during my college career. I have always been involved in some capacity or another with groups who teach and advocate for social justice.

 

At the same time, I also speak out and work within my community to fight crime, even attending CAPS meetings or covering issues in my work. Nobody, regardless of race/affiliation gets a pass from me for wrongdoing and short-changing my community.

 

So it messes with me on a personal level when “officers of the law”  charged with protecting and serving, contrarily see their role to intimidate, and assume that we are all ignorant to our rights. Interrogating the very communities they should engage and partner with. How many police officers were shot and killed in recent months? Is there not a need  to befriend the community so that we can all keep each other safe?

 

Mayoral election day is here in Chicago, and there is a constant barrage of  campaign commercials where candidates laud their platform for more cops to combat the crime. Primarily I hear this from Rahm and Chico. What will be their directives? More racial profiling? More insensitive and detached detectives to harass Black citizens? More “justified” shootings by police?

Not only does our family live in Englewood, we own property. Our tax dollars pay the salaries for the very same racist cops who treat us as enemies. Crime is a reality everywhere. If it weren’t, police departments would not exist and cops would need a new career choice. At the same time, EVERYONE is not a criminal. If you approach your job with that outlook, the rapport you have with citizens will flourish. Trust will build and someday overshadow the historical justification for “no snitching” codes that are a detriment to our community and hamper closure to criminal cases.

 

Yet, if police keep conducting themselves as a gang and community terrorists, the level of empathy and community will further dissipate so that many will not find a sympathetic bone in their bodies when tragedy trumps honor.

 

That is the reality.

 

So we must ask of Weiss, Daley, Rahm, Chico and those who advocate for more officers: How can police effectively do their jobs serving the communities they work while turning from luck and embracing spiritual laws that always win?

 

Here’s something for Chicagoans to consider as you head out to vote for Mayor…

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-071205cops-htmlstory,0,2906787.htmlstory



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