Sunday, March 29, 2009

Let the Ass Kicking Begin

Take a look at this guy. This is Robert Powell. Young guy. Not bad looking. A nice, young Texas man who serves his community as a police officer.

Know what else is he? A shining example of everything that is wrong with the police in this country.

Thanks to this idiot, we have yet another indefensible example of police abuse of power. Not because the policeman drew his gun on the occupants of a car who ran a red light on their way to the hospital, which he did. Nor that the officer ignores the pleas of the driver who explains over and over and over that he has a dying parent in the hospital RIGHT NOW, which he did. Nor that the officer spends an extraordinary amount of time lecturing the driver on his "attitude", which he did. Nor that he threatened to arrest the driver and tow his vehicle because his "attitude sucked", which he does. Nor even that he does so in all likelihood because the driver is African American. It is indefensible because the officer failed to demonstrate any human decency or compassion at all. I implore you. Watch the video. Please. Do it. See what black people go through in this country. Please. Then read this. It's from field negro. Keep in mind the field is an attorney. Not some under-educated race-baiting blogger. Note what he says he does when he is pulled over for a traffic stop.
as a black man I know all the rules of survival when stopped by the po po, especially if I am on another planet like Texas. I know to keep my hands where they can be seen. I know to point to where my registration and insurance card is, and to tell the officer when I am reaching for it. And I know to dial my programmed home number in my cell phone (to get my home recording device) as the officer approaches my car, and keeping my cell phone on all times. I know to make sure I make a mental note of the officer's badge number and his name. And finally, I know to always show my pearly whites before my yes and no sirs.

Compare that to what you do (if you are white). Say what you will. If that police officer had pulled me over, I seriously doubt that traffic stop would have gone down the same way.

The Dallas police chief, made a formal apology and noted that the officer--after reviewing the tape of the traffic stop--still didn't think he had done anything wrong.

Ryan Moats' mother-in-law died in the 14 minutes that he and his father-in-law were detained by Robert Powell. A father did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to his daughter. Ryan did not get to be there for his wife as her mother died. Nope. Ryan and his father-in-law were too busy putting up with this overblown egomaniac in the parking lot. THAT is indefensible.

How the hell Moats found the strength to "yes, sir" and "no, sir" this guy is beyond me.

Do you think this officer should keep his job? Do you think the 14-minute lesson and lecture that he delivers to Ryan and his father-in-law was more important than allowing them to see their mother-in-law and daughter as she lay dying? Do you think it is fair that the father-in-law felt compelled to stay behind with his son-in-law because he feared for the young man's safety given the officer's attitude? Do you think that anything that Ryan Moat did justified being detained for 14-minutes when time was at a premium?

I sure don't. For fuck's sake, A NURSE came out of the hospital to implore the officer to speed it up.

This officer should not keep his job. There is a case to be made for imposing pain and suffering in this situation. Powell should get no immunity from prosecution. Powell's behavior underscores the lack of proper training for police officers in this country. It underscores the lack of proper recruiting, screening, and self-policing. Powell demonstrates poor judgement and judgement in tense situations is EXACTLY what we demand of police officers. Grace under fire. This guy is nothing more than a prick with a badge and a gun. I know plenty of a passive-aggressive pricks who try to manipulate a conversation by maintaining a calm voice while making outrageous and unreasonable demands on others. In cases like this, don't let demeanor cloud your perception of who is out of control. This is a textbook film of COPS GONE WILD. I believe the officer did this because Moats failed to defer to him, failed to lick his boots, failed to show fear. Suspend that idiot without pay. Fire him forthwith. And I hope the guy can't get a job as a rent-a-cop at a parking lot after this.

The part I find most unbelievable is that Powell acted this way with full knowledge that he was being taped. Powell's car camera filmed the incident. But then again, what do you expect from someone who thinks this is acceptable behavior? I seriously question the screening being undertaken in Dallas for police recruits.

On the likelihood that these actions were racially motivated. Call it my peculiar love interests (although I don't find them all that peculiar), but I find the inability of white society to SEE black people, but black men in particular, as PEOPLE, as one of the great failures, embarrassments, and deficiencies of which we should be collectively ashamed. I think it is time we did a little house cleaning ourselves. Because this officer is not an isolated incident.

I was in Quatros Friday evening with D-friend Bek, trying to enjoy a pizza and pitcher, when a white man in his 30s and his wife walked in, sat at the booth next to ours and then began to wax philosophical about niggers. I was incensed. I was just about to get up and give this bucked-tooth hillbilly a piece of my mind, when Bek implored me to let it go. As I didn't want to embarrass my friend, I did as she wished. But had I been alone, I imagine that both Mr. Bucktoothed Hillbilly and I probably would have been kicked out of Quatros following the discussion that ensued.

I thought about this afterwords. It dawned on me that this guy sat down in a public place, took one look around and saw that there were no people of color around and began to harp on what I'm sure was one of his favorite subjects: those damn niggers. I don't want this guy to feel that kind of safety any more. I want this guy to understand in no uncertain terms that a sea of white people isn't safe for the likes of him anymore. Dirty looks don't cut it. They feel invincible. I want to make the bigots as uncomfortable as humanly possible. I want this guy to sit down in a restaurant and think twice before he starts in on the hate speech. I want him to wonder from what direction and how strong the fire power is that is going to hit him if he so much as DARES to do that kind of shit again. Not only that, I want the owners of the establishment know that their customers won't tolerate hate speech and if they intend to enable it, their customers will go elsewhere. I want them to know that it's not just my business, but the business of everyone I know. (Trust me, no one I know is going to take their pet to the Lakeside Veterinary Clinic.) I am damn tired of letting it slide. I am sick and tired of white people thinking that they are safe to spout hatred in a room full of white people. I am sick and tired of having some white people think white means hate for everything non-white. I don't hate and I'm pulling the plug on that fantasy.

I am putting everyone who knows me on notice. I'm not letting this stuff slide any more. If we encounter the ignorant, racist sort that are bent on making others listen to their bigotry, I'm not shutting up. I'm not letting it go. I'm speaking up. In my family. Among my friends. In a place of business. On the street. At the park. I don't care anymore. Something in me snapped today. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. I hope you'll stand with me, but if you don't, I'll stand alone. I'll understand if you take a walk. But I am done accommodating, tolerating and ignoring racial bigotry.

I think of the black men I know and count among my friends, J, Guv, Curtis, David, and okay, maybe even Stewart and Alvin, I see people. One is smarter than me. One is richer than me. One is waaaaay harder working than me. One is more talented than me. One is the sweetest, most gentle man imaginable. One has such an amazing personality that I feel better every time I talk to him. I don't see scientists, or businessmen, or average joes, or entertainers, or pencil pushers or blue-collar guys. I don't even see black guys. I see real people with real ideas, and real hopes, real feelings and real lives. They wow me sometimes and make me laugh sometimes and make me feel their pain sometimes. And through them, I have come to understand that their lives and my life are not remotely close because they, somehow, have accepted that the world isn't the same for them and me. That anyone would see them any differently than I do because they have black skin or African ancestors makes no sense at all. I have white skin and European ancestors. They are good men and my friends and that's all that matters.

The buck stops with D. I'm here to tell you. Let the ass kicking begin.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, snap.

    I'm proud to know you, D.

    I'm sort of surprised you let it slide for Bek... though I have certain friends I would have done the same for. But I would've given them an earful about the responsibility to speak back to ignorance hate and fear, and not just when it's convenient. Because when it's convenient, it's usually safe -- and safe from changing anything. (By safe I mean pyschosocially; physical safety is a worthy, though of course not all-excusing, concern.)

    I have occasionally "turned the other cheek," and I'm often more polite than I probably should be, but it's funny, one friend of mine told me he was very proud of an instance when we were out with friends, and a friend of a friend of a friend, essentially, started talking about "the Jews" having screwed up something or other. This was fairly out of nowhere -- it was a pub quiz at ye olde Irish pub -- so maybe a history question stirred something in her mind. There was a shocked silence, and I was just like, "Damned if I'm not going to say anything." I didn't verbally smack her, exactly, but I did say something like, "That is not alright; what is wrong with you?" I think she tried to amend it somehow, I actually don't remember it quite clearly, and actually it slipped my mind 'till my buddy reminded me of it a year later. It sticks out, because it's the type of thing I feel I don't do enough, and that I want to be on my guard against -- because it's not okay to let things like that go by.

    Good on, ya, D.