it has never been a mystery to me why people don't like the police. simply put: they're assholes. and that's not a judgement on every single individual cop in the world, it is simply a reality about the nature of what they do and how they do it.
on friday afternoon i was in alameda "teaching" a classroom of preschoolers, which really meant playing outside all day and wiping a lot of runny noses. at some point while on a boat trip to chuck e. cheese, my fellow travelers pointed into the sky and started jabbering about the airplanes. i corrected them, for they weren't airplanes but helicopters, and specifically the ones they bring out when shit is going down in oakland. although my curiosity was peaked there was no way i could figure out what that shit was at the moment so i turned my attention back to steering our boat towards pizza and games. my curiosity was later satiated when on my way home i drove right into a police barricade at the intersection of 15th and harrison. there were crowds of cops and as i waited for the cars in front of me to make their u-turns, i saw an oakland police department tank sidle through. now, much shit has hit the fan in oakland, but never have i seen a legit tank pulled out to deal with it. now knowing that all my shit/fan instincts were correct i pulled into a conveniently adjacent open parking space and got out to see what the commotion was. my mother happened to call me approximately 30 seconds before this decision and upon hearing it began to yell frantically for me to go home; i ignored her rational motherly pleas, told her i'd call her when i got back and hung up the phone. all around me were television crews, obviously disgruntled pedestrians and bikers, and of course, cops. i walked over to a group of people to ask what the deal was. it turned out that oscar grant's killer had been released on bail that day, and righteously so, oakland was pissed.
over the span of maybe 180 seconds that i stood and chatted with my fellow outraged citizens, that intersection was transformed. the next thing i knew the cops had aggressively started yelling at everyone to get out of the street; granted there were only about 6 people not on the sidewalk that weren't police, but that didn't seem to be reason enough for the cops to simply walk up to those people and ask them to move. so me along with everyone else began looking around to figure out exactly what they were so upset about. as we did, we saw a teenage black boy sauntering back to the sidewalk when he was tackled by 4 fully loaded policemen and arrested. a cry of outrage went up from the bystanders, and like reasonable people we began asking the cops what the fuck they thought they were doing. people with cameras, mostly middle aged white men, were not arrested or yelled like the young people of of color, they were asked, not yelled at, to step back onto the sidewalk. those of us with a little more melanin were rudely shouted at and approached with a totally unnecessary level of aggression. once they felt like they had arrested enough young yellow, brown and black people they began pressing onto the sidewalk and ordering us to move back. being in the front row, i asked the cop directly in front of me why we were being moved back. his response: because it's an order. now being the supra-rational person that i am, i swallowed the rage and my urge to mollywhop him and rip his face off and calmly asked what the purpose of that order was. his response: because i said so.
any rational human being knows that that is simply not the way you deal with someone if you are trying to not start shit with them; that sort of juvenile authoritative response is exactly what ignites the sparks of anger, hatred and rage that is directed at the police forces that are supposedly in place for our well being. and that response definitely blew my fuse, from that point on, until i left, my middle fingers were at constant attention and in the face of every police officer on my side of the street accompanied by a stream of logical deductions from observation about the effectiveness, purpose, intelligence (or lack of all of the above) of the police tactics, along with very detailed explanations of why everyone hates cops and a fine smattering of expletives. it it wasn't for candy (the love of my life, a 95 corrolla), i would probably be in jail right now. if i had walked into that situation i would have stayed, but not wanting candy to get caught up in the bullshit and attacked as an innocent bystander, i made my way back to her and took her out of the melee. even on the way out cops were yelling at me to get out of the street, as if i could reach my car and leave the situation through any other means, and once in my car they continued to yell at me to move my car faster as if my toyota corolla was going to pummel the escalade in front of me into letting me drive through it. that cop received a highly directed and focused finger and a series of well chosen expletives specially created for his particular brand of stupidity and assholeness.
while this is not the first time i've been part of cop/public horribleness, it was very much a reality check; mixed president or not, those of us with a little color are still under attack from this system and it will not stop because we have changed the color of our elected leader. the fear, the anger, the misunderstandings, the frustrations and the pain are all still here and aren't going anywhere until people are simply taught better. it is common knowledge that the police force attracts napoleonic characters and this truth combined with the aggressive and authoritative pedagogy perpetuated by the institution are fine kindling for confrontation. oh people, will we ever learn? cynicist that i am i can't say i believe we will, but regardless of what i think, it remains to be seen.