Entry 21: February 21, 2019

(Today’s entry has been displaced by current events)

My how Lateef has jaws awagging today!

So for those not in the loop, a GENTLEMAN is walking alongside the road at night, because the sidewalks are all iced over, when the police ride up on him. The exchange results in him getting a ticket.

Now Lateef is clear in saying he was dismissive to the point of rudeness – What he was actually doing was enforcing his civil rights, but most seem to miss this.  His points of contention are a)the stop was racially motivated and b)that he was given a ticket as punishment of his rudeness, not for being in the street – which the law allows for if the sidewalks are a problem.

Regardless of whether you agree with point a, and let me be clear in saying I do, point b should bother you greatly. That is the slippery slope of abuse of power.

In addition, to all that say he just needed to be polite; why is it we have no expectation of politeness from the officers. Sure they have a job to do, but they choose the tactics they use in doing their job. Any parent will tell you that intimidation has its limits; particularly on the innocent.

The whole thing would have been much different if when after their first question they had simply said, “ You know, it is not safe to walk on the street. You can get a ticket for that.” This is the reason we allow for tickets in the first place, to support public safety, not punish the rude.  Had the officer said that, he would have set himself up as an ally of the public good in Lateef’s mind. Instead, he allowed Lateef’s short answer to add to a profile he already had in his head when he stopped him.

And to those who would dismiss Lateef as a negro with an attitude problem, I don’t want to speak for him, however, I believe that he did a good thing because he is a good, upstanding, and strong advocate for our community.  This kind of stuff happens, particularly to our youth, all the time. When was the last time the police rolled upon you and asked you where you were going and to identify yourself? When was the last time you suffered the slow roll by? When was the last time the police gave you the stare down? When was the last time the rent-a-cops shuffled you out of a public space? If your answer to these questions is never, maybe your perspective is limited. As someone who has lived at least two of those situations in the last week, I stand with Lateef.

Change will only happen when folks stand up for themselves and force the system to acknowledge its bias.

To my BIPOC, who are shaking their heads at Lateef, I want to remind you of the story of the ants in the jar:  They say that if you place a bunch of ants in a jar and close the lid, at first the ants try to get out, but eventually, they give up and go about making a life for themselves in the jar. Then if you take the lid off the jar, do you know what happens? Nothing. The aunts are so conditioned to the lid being there, they do not even try to get out.

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