Thanks to individuals with video cameras, like this tourist in Times Square last summer, we can bear witness to the world.
You don’t even have to be on a bike in NYC to see this kind of unrighteousness. I was shocked when I first moved here, but now I know that you ALWAYS have to advocate for yourself. One cop stopped me on Houston for no reason. He just saw me on a bike and wanted to ask me where I was going. I felt like he was going to ask me out on a date. Another common thing I’ve witnessed constantly: cops spittin’ game to flirty girls.
I also have a summons now for riding about 10 ft on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. I live on a busy one way, but the cops still suggested that instead of riding on the sidewalk, I should ride against traffic. Yeah. What’s more baffling is that there were about four of them posted right there in front of the bodega, “on patrol,” and I’m thinking, “YO, you’re across the street from Marcy Projects and you don’t have anything better to do than to give me a petty summons for cruisin on an empty sidewalk? I guarantee someone’s there’s a carjack happening right now.” Sure enough, one week later my neighbor is jumped and beat down near Myrtle-Willoughby by 6 guys, knocked out for nearly half an hour, bleeding internally, while they walk right in to my building and steal all their valuables right across the hall. Where were you then Mr. Officer? I know–mere chance, indeed. But when the kid finally came to take the report, my confidence in his competence rapidly deflated.
Most of the cops that I’ve seen (like those directing traffic) hate their job so much that you can clearly see an emotional recklessness unleashed in their gestures and yelling throughout the day. Many of them are just kids, yet they don’t have to be in order to show their insecurities. They are no different from your average worn unstable and aggravated New Yorker, they just tend to have a more destructive outlet of power when they put on their cowboy costumes.
The point is not to arbitrarily hate on cops or just anyone of authority. Rather, it is to require accountability of injustice. I believe there are people in power with integrity, self-control, and a decent set of ethics. Even though we can answer “Obama” to every drama as much as we like, we know that it is our responsibility to advocate for ourselves and each other. We are all we’ve got. And you don’t need to pick up a gun to start a revolution. The only piece you need is your voice. You’ve heard before that “your word is your weapon.” But your every action is your affirmation. Let it be known.