More alarming than N’s attempt to project the character that I am as something else was what I noticed in the police report. Again I cannot know what anyone was thinking but I will express my ideas as this is my forum to do so. When I read the police report I noticed that my ethnicity is listed as white. I cannot help but question whether this was done for statistical purposes. This is a great illustration of how little these dualistic labels of black and white mean. N tried to sensationalize the idea of blackness to imply certain criminality but with the flick of a pen my ethnicity was “white/non-hispanic”. Seriously makes one wonder what being black or white means. I have come to find it is a label applied by others that we accept because it makes things easier makes them run smoothly and lends to stereotyping in a snap. In most cases skin color is a factor but I have never met a black or white person only people who identify that way culturally and people who self identify at both ends come in all shades in reality.
I believe that when the police arrived and began to really analyze the situation they had walked into it was pretty clear that this wouldn’t go far. That the situation likely did not play out the way N said it had and that I was ready to and very capable of convincing a jury that her story was implausible. This would add to the number of “black” people arrested for what would turn out to be no reason that day week month or year. Who knows maybe a quota had been met or needed to be as I’m sure many know the police do work this way. This idea is inflamed in my mind by the awareness that state prosecutors do not like to look bad by pursuing charges that fail. The reality is these things are all tracked and data is compiled. I had a public defender as I was not in a position to hire council at the time and I was not going to burden my family financially for such a frivolous weak allegation. There was no proof to argue against and I knew this confidently but the thing is most don’t.
I saw how the fear that comes with legal trouble can make someone in my position into easy prey. The lawyer repeatedly offered me “deals” that would end the hassle and minimize the possible damage to my criminal record with the price being dollars and freedom. I made it clear that I was not interested in anything but being found not guilty or having it dismissed but still I was offered these “bargains” repeatedly. I was aware very early on that no one gave a shit whether I had done anything or not, once the hooks where in it was about profiting from my life. The public defender seemed completely impotent to do anything for me except give me advice which to be clear I greatly appreciated. I didn’t expect much anyway and very quickly began to see him simply as a middle man between me and a legal system that didn’t want to deal with me standing up for myself and making sense. It didn’t want me daring it to work the way it should and make N defend and prove her allegation. In the end she abandoned them after wasting time resources and man hours. She had manipulated the entire justice system into attacking me then left them with the burden of proof and nothing to show as such.
The cold hard reality is the public defender was not expected to defend me but facilitate a deal between me and the state of Massachusetts that would leave the system looking squeaky clean and unflawed. Knowing as well as I did that there was no case against me the “defender” was bringing me deals that required me admitting that there was sufficient evidence to convict me! Deals that would put me on probation and require me to attend anger management classes on my dime as if I needed lessons on managing rage. I do not imply that there is anything wrong with this when it is necessary but it wasn’t. If anything I needed lessons on managing my empathy, on keeping my distance from situations that don’t concern me personally. I was shown that the average citizen’s fear of the legal system is capitalized on regularly, I know because even I thought hard and wavered. The way things where presented to me I know many people such as those with prior records, with less faith in truth, those less articulate, those less educated and those who feel less acceptable to the gentry would have bit. I have no doubt now that this is done to people all the time. That there are many young people like me who have records now or are on probation or even in prison for things they did not do.
I share my story because it is important to me that this experience and the things I learned from it help others. With the recent wave of murderous violence perpetrated by police against civilians it is paramount that we value our own and each other’s lives. That we protect our safety and freedom by being smart calm and realistic when dealing with law enforcement and the justice system. The damage has been done you see because the system has succeeded in conditioning the average police officer to see themselves as separate from the rest of us as opposed to an extension. This is dangerous to melanated men but never be deluded for this is dangerous to all. It simply takes being labeled a criminal by the right entity for any life to become worthless in the eyes of law enforcement. They enforce mandates created by a government that could decide at any moment that any of our actions are against it’s laws. Actions like protest, being outside at certain times (e.g. Boston april 19 2013) or communally opting out (e.g. move 9). The US has the largest prison population on earth and this police force is one of the more militarized. Prisons are for profit and it’s populations produce much free labor. This is that new slavery and orange is indeed the new black. ♥♥♥
✩This is for my brother Kadeem. I do not pretend to know what role he played in his own incarceration only he knows surely what happened. We are all innocent and we are all guilty. He made youthful mistakes as we all do, raging against a society that labeled him delinquent from the beginning. Taken into the machine and away from our family with an unfinished education and the world at his fingertips. We eagerly await his return and I hope that no other family has to experience what we have.
I love you. I miss you.
I was taken to the porch and asked leading questions such as “did an argument just take place here?” I gave the most honest answers I could then I was asked to turn around to have handcuffs put on. I was completely placid, in a state of numb disbelief. When things start moving fast like this I get completely calm, If I have to ignore what is happening then so be it. In handcuffs I moved toward the door while asking about shoes for my bare feet and the older less spry and therefore most fearful of the officers put his mouth about 3 inches from mine and screamed and spit about how I am not supposed to move autonomously at this point. It was as if he had said nothing and I said nothing else until I asked what I was being arrested for. You see I have dealt with this kind of goading behavior from law enforcement officers before. Here you have a group of men who know nothing about me or N on arrival. Here I am a young black male, the “type” they have been conditioned to expect crime from accused of a crime. No one could see the education I had fought for or the career I was building for myself, the artistic visions taking form in my mind or the gentleness of my nature for the melanin in my skin. This fellow was sure I would have some sort of emotional response to him screaming in my face that would make the day more exciting and make him feel less useless in his aged state. The best thing to do in situations like this is remain silent, instigators cannot escalate situations with a silent adversary. An adversary being just what these people saw me as.
I asked why I was being arrested for the second time when I was in the backseat because the first person I asked apparently didn’t even know. This time I got a much better explanation. This is when I was informed of what she had accused me of. I asked more questions that led the police officer to explain to me that because I and N lived together the incident was a “domestic” one. This meant that according to the law in our area someone had to be removed when the police arrived. I was informed that had I accused N of brandishing a weapon or physically assaulting me we would have both been arrested. I had been arrested for an event that did not happen because I lived with someone I hardly knew and they had made an accusation. This was horrifying to me! Deep down I knew that I would be vindicated because said accusation would have to be proved but in the following days I kept thinking about how many people in the city where in an Identical situation to mine. Boston has the second or third highest cost of living in the country and many colleges in and around. Everyone I know lives with roommates and a quick look around will prove this is how most are surviving and getting through their education without family. Luckily I had cultivated a friendly relationship with my ex but someone else who’s family springs from SC would have sat in jail for who knows how long.
Around the middle of the year long fiasco I obtained all documents related to the case. I read the wording and it was clear that N is a much more sinister character than I ever imagined. You see N was well aware of the credibility her european features and home ownership bought her. The description of me was quite strange. The person she described was 6’2″ or 6’3″ and “black black black” this is quoted from the 911 call transcript in which N used the word black regarding my appearance 8 times. She was asked for my description once. This was a perceptual distinction she wanted to make crystal clear before the police even arrived for the most obvious reason. I am of african decent but just about 5’11” weighing in at around 140 lbs. My willowy build and androgynous looks and voice don’t typically inspire fear, reading the transcript it is obvious that N agreed. It seems she felt projecting me as the big black bogey man archetype would bolster the believability of her tale. Along with implying heavy drug use and details about my sexuality, even dragging a friend she met once into the fantasy by name.
During the conversation in the car on the way to the county lockup I noticed a change. As I began to speak for myself and become a real person instead of a projected image the relations shifted. At the house when I was being as quiet as I knew was necessary I was shuffled around and looked at like something without a brain. When we were in the more intimate setting of a sedan I was asking relevant lucid questions, ones that suggested I knew at least the basics about my rights and probably that I was pretty well educated. This was these people’s first opportunity to get a read on my character my temperament and it did not add up. By the time we made it to the station I was being referred to as Mr. Ocean and sir, I was being respected and treated gently. I remember having my handcuffs adjusted and my comfort being a concern. I cannot know what anyone was thinking but I sensed what seemed like sympathy in the officer who was there from beginning to cell. A look in his eyes and behavior that seemed to give away his instinct that this was not right. The police are you me our neighbors and family members only guided by entrained blind allegiance to law. The problem being that the legal system is flawed tainted by racism classism and financial motivations. I had forced him to see me as an individual human not a black criminal. Never forget your humanity and no one else save sociopaths will be able to ignore it.
Know your rights and never be afraid to ask questions or remain silent as you see fit. Remember that when police arrive on the scene there job is to find reason to arrest you, calmly cooperate but do not help them. You have the right to protect yourself from legal trouble. It is scary being arrested but right now you are innocent until proven guilty. Make people who accuse you of shit prove it without your help. Under stress innocent people can say very damaging things to our own interests without realizing it. ♥
I find it infuriating how many pieces of land are marked with signs that read no trespassing. Really think about this… aren’t we all born on this planet? Therefore we all have a stake in it. How is it fair that some group of losers gets to decide what area of the planet your not allowed to visit. Seriously fuck that! The truth of the matter is this is all “stolen” land anyway. I can’t help but think about it all when I see things like this. Europeans came over and brutally tossed native inhabitants off a large portion of this land. Strong-armed them off in all directions and set up a system that relative to each other made them the rightful owners. Oh and then they pretty much decimated the indigenous population all while calling THEM savages. Then the natives where quartered off to little swatches of land because they didn’t buy what naturally belongs to everyone from the white man. What I wonder is when will we as a people, black native white and other stop playing their game? When will we realize that a place on this planet is an inalienable right? We belong to this planet not some other so how the fuck is it right that we have to pay for some space on it? And because we didn’t we can’t walk in some nature apparently set aside for those who did. I mean look at the sign, its meant to come off authoritative, to intimidate. In this day in this country authority equals oppression and intimidation is the tactic. Really, am I going to be arrested for enjoying nature? Because that’s what this implies, but I don’t respond to intimidation. So fuck you Foxcroft East Homes Association and the pig you rode in on, I enjoyed my leisure stroll through the trees today because I recognize my inalienable right to do so :-).