The death of Sandra Bland (my sorority sister; the woman who was pulled over for a failure to signal and was found dead in jail three days later from an alleged suicide) has only reinforced my wariness of the police. Watching the dash cam video I thought, "That could've been me." And then I remembered, maybe it almost was.
I'd posted this incident on Facebook back in 2013. Believe it or not I'd almost forgotten about it. Perhaps because as a woman of color I live with the unambiguous understanding that my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness will always come second to the mood and character of the law enforcement officer I may encounter. And that the system I help pay for with my tax dollars will put his word, safety, and reputation ahead of mine. Sure, if called for, I could seek legal remedy. But that's going to cut into my shoe budget. Here's the post:
October 11, 2013
I Shot the Sheriff?
I was driving home from a gig last night through a small town in New Jersey. A local police car turned onto the street and passed me going in the opposite direction. When I glanced into my rearview mirror I saw the police car pull over and begin making a U-turn. I was the only other car on the road and I didn't get a good feeling. I immediately turned into the nearest gas station and sat there for a few minutes fiddling with my GPS, waiting for the perceived danger to pass.
Yes, I said danger.
I was driving the speed limit in a stone-cold sober straight line. Both headlights were working just fine. My license, registration, and insurance are up-to-date. No outstanding tickets or warrants... in New Jersey. Was my New York license plate enough to peek the interest of the local police? As a woman traveling alone, late at night I didn't want to find out.
Maybe I've seen too many movies or read too many sensational news stories but my tingling Spidey Senses told me that if I'm doing everything right, maybe they're the ones looking to do wrong. I know that's a big assumption to make, but in a society that loves to blame the victim I have no choice but to err on the side of my safety. I'm not saying all bored cops are bad cops but why would I take the chance?