Posted by: Ophelia | May 1, 2008

Remain calm, no sudden moves

Messages about the police vary so widely. I mean I remember being a child and being told that if anything bad happened, that I could always just find a police officer and tell them, and they would help me. I wish things had remained so easy. Unfortunately, there’s an entire set of rules and attitude one has to employ when dealing with the police when black.

You can be stopped if: 4. You are somewhere where an officer thinks people have no reason to be at that time of day or night. (100 Blacks in law enforcement who care)

My father experienced this first hand. On his way back from picking up a space heater he had purchased on Ebay, he got pulled over. Everything was in order but, well, he was in an all white neighborhood in New Jersey at the time, they had to be sure he wasn’t up to no good. I guess the amount of places black men belong at any given time or location is fairly narrow. Then of course you have to figure out how not to look dangerous when your very skin is what makes you look that way. I wonder if the people criticizing Sean Bell’s appropriateness for a feminist blog have ever thought about this, if they’ve ever known this fear themselves or feared for someone else.

What if, I thought, just one of these officers thought I was reaching for a gun at any point in that series of steps? That I had no gun — had never even owned one, in fact — was and would have been meaningless in that moment. It wouldn’t have mattered.

This was about four years before the Amadou Diallo shooting, but just about two years after the death of Malice Green. So, I knew we were one misunderstanding, one miscommunication, one hesitation, one angry word, one hint of resistance, one moment of frustration away from being another one of those stories. (TerranceDC)



  1. […] the whole thing over here This entry was posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 10:28 am and is filed under Uncategorized. […]

  2. I don’t think I’ve heard of women fearing for their lives because the cops pulled them over just for being women. However, what about women in general being sexually harassed by a cop, or a cop abusing their power over them in any way? I know that these are apparently really rare, but with the low percentage of people reporting rape, wouldn’t this be just as low, or even lower? And then, what about a black woman? Does she have to be afraid of being shot, and THEN raped by a white cop?

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