I think I’m supposed to like this story: A man was walking along the street, enjoying a legal activity. He was stopped and harrassed by a police officer, and instead of giving in, he used his legal training to argue with the officer and defend his rights. Truly one of the best uses of a law degree is intellectually defending yourself “when they come for you” as it were.
Normally, I’m a fan of this kind of thing.
But the “legal” activity this guy was “enjoying” was walking around with a firearm. And his way of talking to the police officer sounded less like Atticus Finch and more like a punk bitch.
And I can’t shake the feeling that if this guy were black, if this was an African-American male strutting around with a firearm who then got mouthy with the police and refused to show ID, he be sitting in The Tombs right now.
Or the morgue…
Look, I’m a black man in New York. I know that I can get stopped for any reason or no reason whatsoever. In this city, they stop black people for carrying a backpack.
When I get stopped or have any interaction with the police, Elie the aggressive internet guy disappears and is replaced by Elie the guy who wants to live. I say “sir.” I make no sudden movements. I say “may I please reach into my back pocket and retrieve my identification for you, sir?” That’s right, when confronted by law enforcement, I’m Christoph Waltz, not Django.
But I guess the rules are different for white people. Check out this cell phone video of a guy getting stopped by an officer for walking around with his gun. The incident happened a while ago, but I’m just now seeing the video.
The officer here isn’t well trained and seems, shockingly, intimidated by the guy’s legalese.
But contrast the officer’s behavior here to this recording captured by a black guy named Alvin who was stopped for, as far as anyone can tell, walking around with a backpack. From the Nation:
In the course of the two-minute recording, the officers give no legally valid reason for the stop, use racially charged language and threaten Alvin with violence. Early in the stop, one of the officers asks, “You want me to smack you?” When Alvin asks why he is being threatened with arrest, the other officer responds, “For being a fucking mutt.” Later in the stop, while holding Alvin’s arm behind his back, the first officer says, “Dude, I’m gonna break your fuckin’ arm, then I’m gonna punch you in the fuckin’ face.”
“He grabbed me by my bookbag and he started pushing me down. So I’m going backwards like down the hill and he just kept pushing me, pushing me, it looked like he we was going to hit me,” Alvin recounts. “I felt like they was trying to make me resist or fight back.”
Yeah, black guy with a backpack asks about probably cause, and gets threatened with assault. White guy with a firearm does the same thing, and the cop starts bumbling like an idiot.
And, unlike the situation with the black guy and the backpack, this cop had a pretty legitimate (if not legal) reason for stopping the guy. Let me remind you that he was carrying around a freaking gun. And this isn’t an isolated incident. In the very same city where this kid mouthed off to this cop, a guy brazenly walked around with an assault rifle a few days after the Newtown massacre. In both cases, these guys were taking advantage of Maine’s open carry laws, right after the Newtown shooting, apparently to prove some kind of stupid point about liberty.
Maine is so white they call the ice black. But I gotta think that if I was walking around with a weapon, there wouldn’t have been the same kind of respect for Maine’s dangerous gun laws. It’d be great if people in Maine pulled these stunts to illustrate that the law is stupid instead of menacingly glorifying their sense of liberty.
Not that I would be the one trying to prove such a point to any police officers in the area. I’ve decided to accept that there’s a double standard here. I don’t like it, but I’m leaving the “picking a fight with police officers about firearms” to the white guys in the audience.