Friday, May 16, 2008

Summer Break

Oh, summer is coming, and my academic year has yielded to a screeching halt. I am done grading papers, fielding e-mail queries, and posting grades. I believe I was the last person out of my department yesterday, but I was determined to start my break today and not have to be on campus filing grades at the last hour.

I picked up my stack of books from interlibrary loan, and couldn't resist going through them despite the fact that I was dogged tired yesterday. I'm preparing to write an essay on Richard Wright for the conference in Paris next month. I hope to see some of you there.

Leisurely had my cup of coffee this morning that was momentarily interrupted by the Fairfax County Police stopping and interrogating one of the regular customers, and former Starbucks employee. Yes, he was young, black and male; he was sitting at a table outside sipping his coffee and reading the newspaper. I had to rise from my seat and go outside and observe what was transpiring. The police in my neighborhood have a habit of stopping minority male youths without probable cause or an articulable fact. The threshold according to Internal Affairs is "reasonable suspicion." Well that's too broad for me, and leaves far too many black, hispanic, and arabic males, in particular, susceptible to being harassed.

Some of our youth are not trained in the basic operating procedures that our parents trained us in during the days of overt police brutality in Detroit before the Coleman Young years. The young man this morning at Starbucks did not even ask the officer's name, and I am certain that he was too shaken up to note the officer's name and badge number. As polite as I could be I got the officer's name, business card, and badge number. But something was up because the officer told me that "you can call my boss if you want to." Hum, total lack of respect. But I will do just that. However, the officer did call for back up. And an unmarked car with a black officer pulled up. Neither one of the police said anything to me or the young man. Wow, what a way to start one's day. You can be sitting at a Starbucks and have a police officer demand to see your identification without telling you why.

Of course I am concerned because of the incident that I experienced last month, to which Internal Affairs has still not sent me a communication regarding their investigation, like promised. And my son and his friends are always noting how the police harass them throughout the neighborhood. I recall similar incidents of police harassment in this neighborhood during the 90s when the minority boys got around 14 years old. I suppose nothing has changed, but I will continue to be vigilant in protecting myself and the youth in this community.


Mozart Guerrier said...

When will the Blue stop hunting brown Men?

M. L. Simms said...

Mozart Guerrier, I wish that I could say today. But I suspect never unless we begin to stage mass protests throughout this country. It seems that Black communities only collectively demand an end to police harassment and brutality when one of ours is beat severely or killed. However, we seem to tolerate, to a large extent, the daily policing of our movement. I'm going to do my best to curtail this at least in my precinct in Fairfax County. Wish me success.