I can finally empathize with black men now as it relates to unjust detention by police for matching ridiculously broad suspect profiles, known as stop and frisk. (Notice I don’t say illegally detained, more on that later.)
“Sorry buddy, you match a description for a suspect we are looking for.”
“What’s the description?”
“Male between the age of 18 to 49. Height between 5 feet and 7 feet. Weight between 150 and 250 pounds.”
Sound familiar? Sure, I’m exaggerating, but you catch my drift.
Anyways, today I was unjustly but legally detained by police while walking in my neighborhood, something I do virtually every day for exercise and reflection. My crime?
Matching a general description and walking in the general direction of a man alleged to have assaulted a person in the general area. My inquisitive nature did me in, on this one. I walk a well-worn path through familiar rows of houses. It is a route I’ve carefully chosen for maximum quietude and solitude. There are more direct routes, but those are filled with ill-mannered dogs of all sizes, evolutionarily obsessed with defending their inconsequential tracts of land and owners (my dog is guilty of this too, but I digress) by loud and incessant barking. Nevertheless, through experience and keen attention I have carved out a path where the dogs are calmest or absent altogether. There are two busy roads which bisect my little walk. Normally, I just have to wait for traffic to pass and then I can continue along in peace. But today I noticed a great deal of police cars driving up and down the road. Foolishly, I stood near the road to watch them pass. I have good eyesight and I noticed the driver of one of the cars turned to look down the road. His glance captured my visage. The police cars drove on. But as I crossed the second busy street and thought I was in the homestretch I watched a police car driving down the busy street behind me perform an erratic turn around. My sense was they now we’re looking for me. The other officer having called in a description and location for me. Ahh, the illogic and franticness young police officers. Hasn’t anyone told them this real life isn’t like the movies and tv? Well, to make a long story short. I end up walking in a dark patch as I make my way to the street where my house is located, and they probably lost sight of me. But once I make my way on the well-lit street, a cruiser rolls up behind me. The cop asks me some silly question for which there is no right answer. I tell him I’m just walking in my neighborhood. In other words, I tell him the truth. Of course, cops have been programmed by the media and culture to despise and distrust the common citizen, and vice versa, so after making some goofy maneuvers with his car where he seems to turn off the street I’m walking on and disappear, he reappears and decides to cut me off while walking and formally detain me.
The funniest part of the whole interaction was when after many protests from me, he says he can detain me for walking on the street instead of the sidewalk (note, I’m walking near the curb). I laughed. It was a joke. The perfect joke for the absurd world we live in. The sad part of this story is that his detention of me wasn’t illegal. It was perfectly legal; you can thank the wise old Supreme Court Justices of yesteryear for that one. Specifically, Terry v. Ohio. The case which made stop and frisk legal. The case which established the low as dirt standard of “reasonable suspicion” for police detentions. I know plenty of lawyers. And they love their standards and their letters of the law, and on and on. But when it comes right down to it. You don’t have any rights in this country. The police can do whatever the hell they want in the moment. Maybe if you’re rich or powerful you can give them hell later in court. The Constitution is just a piece of paper with pretty words on it. It doesn’t exist in practice. And to be honest, I don’t think the Constitution is great to begin with. I think it’s a plutocrats half-hearted nod to republicanism and a free society. After all, the founding fathers were a bunch of old timey billionaires descended from royal European bloodlines. But I’m not the least bit irked by it, God bless the overlords, they’ve setup a wonderful system of control over us, the gilded slaves in our gilded cages. A truly free world would be nice, perhaps one day humanity will mature enough, and consciousness will grow in enough people to allow it.
Positive takeaways? The police only detained me for twenty minutes or so. After everything about me screamed I wasn’t the perpetrator. Oh, he’s over 220 pounds? Well, I’m a solid 190. Oh, he’s got tattoos. Well, guess what, I got none. And so on and so forth. I don’t even blame the police. They’re just enforcing a rotten legal system. There something about this whole episode that makes me feel like we’re living in the Matrix. No, I don’t think robots are using us as batteries and all that nonsense. Just, that this is a lesser plane of existence, one where an elite and rich group of people get off on infringing on the lives and rights of other human beings. Can you imagine a free society where free people actually can’t just be wantonly stopped on the street by guys with guns and black combat boots? Where people don’t go around assaulting people? Where walking alone at night doesn’t make you into one of the usual suspects? Where the law is about justice and not convoluted word play meant to dress up the fact you’re a slave to a system you were born into, never agreed to, and wouldn’t want anything to do with if you had the choice and could think clearly? I can. There is a better world out there. People just have to wake up. And start working to create it.
This may appear like a case of blown proportions. But I don’t think it is. I lived in New York City during stop and frisk. People in Harlem were treated very poorly indeed. Their rights were stepped on every day. My experience was laughable compared to what they had to go through. And what they had to go through was a disgrace. Unreasonable searches and seizures are the hallmarks of a totalitarian society, not a free one (also, ask yourself, who determines reasonableness anyways?).
And I believe my personal experience is worthy of inductive generalization here to the larger problems facing American society. We are not as free as we think we are, at least not legally. And we never really have been. I don’t think I’m being cynical here, ask any poor person, and they’ll tell you, there’s one set of rules for the poor and one for the rich. And history tells us it’s always been thus. The superrich, forget it, they don’t have any rules, they do whatever the hell they want.
Just look at this whole push for vaccines. I’m not going to comment on their efficacy or side effects one way or another. But just look at the fascism of the whole thing. They are trying to ram it down all our throats. The masks. The vaccines. The this, the that. Fear. Fear. Fear. I’ll pass on fear mongering any day.
Where it all goes nobody knows. My point is this: live free or die hard. Just kidding! My point is this: just do what you’re bloody told whether it’s the police telling you or some CDC official. Just kidding! I don’t have a point; I just have a general sense that we could make this world into a utopia. So, strive for that.