Our Man on The Spot: The Biggest Little Arrest in The World
I left early under the sign which used to announce Reno as “The Biggest Little City in The World “ but now clarifies where the Gateway to The Redwoods exactly is. And having time to not have to bumper car to make it to downtown San Francisco for so-called ‘business’ not far from the bar where I had worked when I re-migrated west from The Apple, I thought since I was planning this so well I’d better pull off for gas pretty soon after San Rafael. This put me somewhere in the super-high end strip malls of Marin County that use 101 and an extreme presence of The Uniformed Armed and Dangerous to keep low-riders and hill hippies funneled to somewhere else.
As I was transfusing from the planet’s circulatory system I caught, out of the remnant of peripheral vision, someone walking towards the station in a way that seemed out of place. He looked clean enough and dressed well enough to be just another grinder if on Market Street but clearly inappropriately foot-bound even though white-bread as white-bread can be, there where Mercedes and Jaguar have right away. If you are a geezer in this country you better have the wheels to validate right of passage – even your threads won’t do, even a passport doesn’t cut it––lots of jazz greats will tell you that, though my Shoshone friend Santiago has learned from his Uncle James that a willingness to not move when told, a smile and a conviction that being an Original Person obligates special dispensation from Johnny-Come-Latelies–– is what Uniformed Authority will unconsciously accept.
But our White Elderly Walker ( a WET) wasn’t on to any of that, as just in bar life the Predator will walk in and arrive without detour to the stool right by the Victim, so here, of course, a squad car pulls up behind our foot-bound geezer. One of those cops arrives who seems to probably not live in the neighborhood of those whom he has, in a better day, been hired to ‘protect and serve’.
That’s in part what Bernie reminds us of –– that he may be white and represent a white electorate but he ‘got old’ and Un-rich and he has now joined the disenfranchised and therefore some think he is going to end up being someone People of Color can relate to.
Even if the cop behind our walker had the relaxed but authoritarian manner of someone who had been sufficiently in urban turmoil or hill hippy gun fights over America’s newest almost legal cash crop (beats soybeans as this country’s newest farm subsidy) the situation required not an adept at crowd control but humane control of the authority invested.
Before I have even ten gallons in the tank the by-the-book Peace Officer Lookalike has combat exited his car hand ready for quick draw and over the traffic sound of rampant shoppers I can hear his commanding voice demanding not ‘requesting’ identification.
If there was a specific offense of which a WET (white elderly transient) might have been guilty it wasn’t going to be announced before finding out if our itinerant walker of at best grandfatherly demeanor had ever been arrested in California before.
Now at least Wikipedia has the consensus opinion that identification can only be demanded on occasion of suspicion of a specific unlawful event.
Presumably those invested with the authority to use lawful force have sufficient training to recognize when someone is physically harmless as most certainly our W.ET. was (though the NYPD did not get that Eric Garner was no threat other than to ego when they applied a fatal choke hold to him).
Whoever is in charge of training for the organization inscribed on the door of his “cruiser” as “The Central Marin Police” has the usual low standard of dealing with that pubic best served apparently by an appropriate show of force. (First to the firing range and then to high speed driving practice in the fast lanes of local and interstate highways in the latest mass purchase of tricked out “patrol cars’”paid for by guess who but you and me.)
About now the call for ‘back up’ is being answered by several of those who, since Bush, have been collected as the soon to be uniformed majority. The first to arrive, who roars up in his brand new Harley, probably weighs less than his oiled black leathers with none of the scuffs and skids of San Francisco motorcycle cops.
Then another seemingly brand new black and white pulls up with a young guy most likely out of the burbs who might have done some military service but judging by the insecure strut probably not the being-shot-at part and who for sure has a gig that beats parking cars and with considerably more perks as we flirt with the notion of of the garrison state. But at least he has the possibility, since he does not yet seem to have an addiction to abusive talk, of growing up to honor that life enhancing concept of protecting and serving. But nevertheless he does participate in reducing the dignity of the “perp” by making him sit on the pavement while they stand over and literally talk down to him,
Now this is not New York at 4:30 a.m…where Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks had been with teammates lifting a few in celebration of a good season (see Oct 6 NY Times). There was some violent interaction in the same club that they were never accused of being part of–– however they didn’t immediately vacate the street outside without a little backtalk. (But Hey, Troy Tulowitzki of the Toronto Blue Jays gets to mouth off).
The cops say that “Mr Sefolosha charged an officer whose back was turned but this was disproved by cell phone video (again).
Sefolosha ‘s lawyer contended in the recent trial that his client, who acknowledged calling one officer “a midget” was nonetheless wrongly arrested. The Times quoted the defense saying “Police officers broke a bone in Mr Sefolosha’s right leg, causing him to miss this year’s NBA playoffs and jeopardizing his career”, just as Chase Utley of Those Dodgers Ignored the base path to take out Ruben Tejada of the Mets and break the fibula of his leg like the boys in blue had done Thabo.
“They arrested him and broke his leg out of earshot of an unrelated crime scene,” Mr Sprio told the jurors during his closing argument, suggesting that police officers had seen Mr Sefolosha merely as “a black man in a hoodie” (but it must be noted here that without an appreciation of one’s own energetic atmosphere, size matters and sets off the fear factor remnant of a slaveholding society).
Beyond the Racial and Tribal Disconnect
But the humiliation of our White Elderly Transient illustrates the next stage of the unmooring of our society, when a group of second class citizens, even of the same skin color, must be created to populate the judicial cycle of law enforcement justifying the very cost of that system.
In New York however there was evidently a jury pool that included Mr Sefolosha’s peers as he was found “not guilty of all charges” (NY Times Oct 10 ) though the cops are still at work with full pay.