This post was worthy of reposting:
"One Friday night my wife and I were driving to a comedy club in Manhattan Beach to hang out and share a few good laughs. On the way there, we were pulled over by the police. Two officers approached our car. One of them came to my window. The other one came to her window. Without asking to see my license or registration, the officer on my side told me to get out of the car. I immediately and respectfully complied without raising a single question or objection. And in case you're wondering, I wasn't dressed in gang colors nor was I wearing a hoodie. When I exited the car, he turned me around, handcuffed me, threw me against the side of my car, and did a complete body search on me. As he groped me like a boss, he said the words, "this is how we do it in LA." I remember seeing a woman walking across the street holding hands with her little girl. She looked my way. We made eye-contact. She picked her little girl up and jogged in the other direction. Who could blame her? She did the right thing. If I saw one of society's most trusted authority figures manhandling a guy, I'd also assume this was a potentially dangerous situation. The officer removed the wallet from my pocket and pulled out the cash. "Why do you have so much cash on you?" he asked. "Sir, I honestly didn't feel like a $100 was a lot of cash to have on me. I'm going out with my wife tonight and just wanted to have a little cash on me." "We'll see," he says. Next, he asked me where I lived. I told him my address. He laughed and said "this nigger KNOWS his address." Then he walked me to the police car and literally threw me in the back seat and shut the door. From the back seat of a police car, I watched the officer join his partner who was already busy questioning my wife. They also made her get out of the car. They both got in her face and started questioning her. Imagine what goes on inside of a man's head when he's handcuffed and helpless as he watches two men with guns get in his wife's face. Imagine the complex blend of confusion, fear, irrational optimism, and rage that festers inside a man's soul as he watches one cop take his wife's purse and pour all the contents out while the other officer literally crawls around inside our car for several minutes. They spent about ten more minutes aggressively questioning my wife. One of the officers returned to the car with my wallet and proceeded to look up my info in the system. "You got any baby momma drama?" he asked me. "I don't have any children, sir." "You sure you ain't got no baby momma drama?" he asked again. "I am certain that I have no children, sir. There are no women out there who are even under the impression that I am the father of their child" I say to him. "Are you clean? Are you clean? You ain't got no drugs? You ain't got nothing on you? NO baby momma drama?" he says. "I am clean," I say. For the entire time that we were talking, my eyes were deadlocked on that other officer and my wife. After what felt like an eternity, the officer let me out of the car and took off the handcuffs. "You're good," he says. As I slowly walked back to our car, I said to one of the officers, "Sir, I'm not trying to be antagonistic or disrespectful, but is there a reason for why I was pulled over?" "We just had to check you out," he said. I wanted to say "what does that even mean?" but more importantly, I wanted to get my wife and I out of that situation alive. Given the way he man-handled me earlier, it was obvious to me that I was dealing with guys who weren't above breaking protocol. So I just walked back to the car, took a deep breath, asked my wife if she was alright, and did my best Denzel Washington from "Glory" impersonation as I tried to keep it together. Our comedy show started at 8pm. We were pulled over at about 7:30pm. When they let us go, it was about ten minutes after the hour. We decided that we couldn't go home or it would feel as if we let them win. So we drove to a local cinema, watched a movie, came back home, had some coffee, and just stayed up talking with each other about it. I'm grateful that we didn't get killed. I'm grateful that my wife didn't get assaulted. I'm grateful that they didn't plant drugs on me or put me in the hospital. But my gratitude doesn't change the fact that these men abused their power, disrespected my wife, laid their hands on my body in an inappropriate way, scared the hell out of us both, made us miss our show, and treated me like a criminal simply because they felt entitled to do so. They will not ruin my life nor will they determine my destiny, but I want to put this story on the record because this was neither the first nor the second time something like this happened to me and I sincerely believe that things like this happen all over the country.
I write this because there's this naive idea floating around that a person should never be afraid of cops as long as they're innocent and compliant. For a lot of people in this country, that's simply not true.This isn't about playing some mythical race-card nor is about me promoting the idea that all cops are evil. I'm sure there are lots of cops who are nice to their kids and who are fun to hang out with when they're having beer with their buddies. I'm also sure that's true of a lot of so-called "thugs." But if we want to have intelligent discussions about authority in this country, we have to stop using a logic that tells us that people in authority always have a fair reason for doing what they do. We do a lot of talking about what people can do to avoid being abused by cops. We don't talk as much as we should about the abuse that happens to people who follow all those instructions. If we can't question authority, we are doomed.
Here's a habit I picked up early on: When I would see police officers, I shift into my A-game. If I feel an itch on my forehead, I'll notify the cops first before scratching the itch because I want them to feel safe and secure about the movement of my hand. This is a technique I refer to as "not getting shot." I learned techniques like this from the first day I received my driver's license. When I lived in Westchester with my parents, I was always afraid to drive my dad's Lincoln Town car. I was too afraid to tell him, but I would cringe when he'd ask me to drive his car because I KNEW I would be pulled over and harassed by cops whose worldview wasn't big enough to imagine me in a nice car (even though it was normal to see young people driving nice cars in the neighborhood where I grew up). I remember driving my dad's car once and he left his toolbox in the back seat. A cop pulled me over and asked why I had a toolbox. Fair enough. I told him that my Dad was in real estate and construction and that I was working with him at one of his buildings. The cop had me step out of the car, handcuffed me, and searched the toolbox while I sat on the curb in handcuffs. "Are there any other weapons in this car besides this hammer here?" My overly diplomatic reply was: "with all due respect, sir, the hammer is not a weapon, but rather a one of many tools in that toolbox we use for work. However, I understand where you're coming from and I can see how you might be inclined to see it as a weapon, but those tools are only used for work." He let me go. I can only imagine what my fate would have been if I hadn't learned about the loaded question fallacy. Two points for philosophy. Yay! By the way, the officer gave me no warnings, citations, or explanations. Like the guys from my earlier story, he just wanted to "check me out." Unfortunately, my techniques don't make me feel all that secure nor does the fact that I drive a car that's a LOT more modest than my dad's. At every stage of my adulthood, I've been pulled over by cops, dragged out of my car, handcuffed, spoken to like I was a stupid little boy, humiliated in public, called racial slurs, and manhandled by multiple guys with badges multiples times (without being arrested or charged with anything) in spite of the fact that I've never been armed and I've always complied with their every request. When I spent two years without having a car, it was one of the most peaceful cop-free times in my life. I would still get harassed at times, but it was so much harder for them to come up with B.S. excuses for stopping me. I have NEVER been physically or psychologically abused by drug-dealing "thugs" but I have definitely been abused by thuggish cops who thought it was okay to push me around because I fit their personal stereotype of what a thug is. Some people automatically feel safer when cops are around, but that's not a universal experience. It's certainly not mine. I'm not mad at every cop, but I am deeply concerned about the frighteningly popular belief that you must have done something wrong if you were abused by one."