Bushwick Days…Part One

Arguments are getting hot & heavy at MetaFilter. Based on a story on CNN.Com.

Adam’s kind of taking a hard-line, militant stance on this, bringing up some valid points about racism, cops & police brutality (which, yeah I can concede to a minimal point… ask Abner Louima.). But he feels it’s because this suspect was black that he was being beaten by the plice (white AND black officers, btw)… but the fact is: This suspect was a psycho, and when you do what he did (like shoot a cop for instance…) they’re gonna beat the fuck out of you even if you’re a light shade of cyan! I’d throw in my two cents, but at 55 comments and rising, chances are better people will hear me here.It wasn’t easy being a white boy, growing up in the mainly Hispanic & Black Bushwick section of Brooklyn. I had 20-some-odd years of hearing “What are you doing in MY neighborhood???” Lots of fights…won some, lost some. Had lots of good friends too. It’s everywhere you go. People are cool and people are assholes, no matter what color or religion they are.

Anyway… my point.
Around 1986 – 1987 I was followed around quite a bit by cops. Once I was thrown against a police car & searched… another time I was called over for shaking a friends hand while passing each other on Grove Street. It got to the point where I visited the 83rd Precinct and I was like “Hey guys, what’s going on here???”.

The Desk Sargeant’s answer was simple. I’m white. I don’t belong in this neighborhood. Cops saw me wandering around, and just assumed I was from Ridgewood or Maspeth coming in to buy drugs.

Oooooookay. Now I’m getting the “You don’t belong here’s” on both sides.

Did I hate them for it? No. They’re not mind readers. They’re just doing their jobs. They don’t have “Crook-O-Meters” scanning everyone that passes by. I bet they wish they did. When something looks unusual, they have to check it out. Drive on any given highway long enough, and you’ll see a Mercedes Benz with tinted windows pulled over. Could be nothing… Could be something. They could be drug dealers, or they could just be some well-meaning kids that take good care of their car. They’ll never know unless they check it out.

Sometimes apprearances and gut instincts are all they have to go on. It’s that very same thing that may cost them their lives, if they’re not careful enough.

There is the problem with racism in itself. No one seems to be able to put themselves in someone else’s place. If you were a cop, a black man, or a white man… just for a little while, then you can have a little more understanding where the other person is coming from. You would understand that people that are “different” from you are not necessarily your enemy. I guess being someone who faced this kind of stuff, it gave me a bit of understanding (and yeah, there’s a LOT more to my story that I’m leaving out.). Maybe I’ll never fully understand what black people go through, and how many more chances I got because of my pigmentation… but I do know what it’s like to be hated, simply because of the color of my skin…. even for just a little while. I’m actually grateful for that tidbit of knowledge.

A lot of friends of mine are police officers now, even one from “tha hood”. You couldn’t pay me enough to put up with the bullshit they do on a daily basis.

And on the bright side, with the cops watching my every move, I didn’t get mugged until I left Bushwick a year later…. :0)

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