Sunday, January 11, 2009

Police: A Personal Story

by Star Johnson

When I was 18, I loved being bad. Hanging with the wrong people at the wrong place. Doing the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

There was a cop that patrolled my old stomping grounds, Officer Booker. I don’t know if it was his real name or one given to him because of his appearance, but he was a real ass. He once gave one of my boys a ticket for riding his bike the wrong way down a one way street. (I know, I didn’t think they could do it either but he did.)

Well, a couple days after my 18th birthday, Officer Booker pulled me over because I had a broken tail light. He gave the whole riot act, then he got real with me. He reminded me I was now legal and if caught doing what he assumed I was doing, I would go to adult jail.

I’m not going to pretend that I listened. He let me go with a warning and I ignored his words. Within a few minutes, I was getting paged like crazy. 911 behind each beep. I returned to my stomping grounds to find it swarming with police.

They had gotten a search warrant for the apartment next to my boys and knocked hard on the door. My boys thought it was for them and their ass started chucking shit out the window. Which gave the police probable cause to search their apartment. No one lived in the apartment next to them.

They were all arrested and I was on the outside of the building, just watching. One of my boys, who wasn’t in the apartment at the time, arrived and started taunting the police. Of course, at the time I thought it was hilarious. Until he dropped a pack out of his pocket.

Like a dumb ass, I moved to cover up the evidence. You know, gotta protect your boys. Guess who saw me? Officer Booker. I know he saw me because I saw him looking at me. Another officer came to me and asked to see my ID. I told him he had no right to ask and I wasn’t going to give it him. I knew my rights.

That didn’t stop the officer from harassing me. It would’ve been easier if I didn’t have work under my foot or if my boys weren’t still giving the officer such a hard time.

(O.K. I learned something else that day that I would like to share real quick. Don’t hang out with stupid people that do stupid things. One of my boys told the police he makes more money in a month than the officer makes in a year. He told the cop this before he dropped his pack. If the officers weren’t being cautious because of the crowd starting to build, I’m sure the would have searched him right away.)

Anyways, as the cop continued to question me, Officer Booker came to my assistance. He told the cop I was a volunteer at the rec center and I’m constantly down here trying to help the kids. Which was kinda true. I helped all the kids with their homework and braided the girls hair if their mothers didn’t.

The cop left me alone and Officer Booker told me that was his last time offering me assistance.

I changed all my rules at that moment. If you were dirty, then don’t get in my car. If you did and we got pulled over, then I was going to point right at your ass. A myriad of things I used to do were no longer on the table and I give all the credit to Officer Booker.

A couple months later, one of my boys got off on a murder charge. One of the smartest of the group, he had saved alot of money and could afford a real lawyer not a court appointed. The day he got out, I went to see him. Everybody was happy and so was I. Until I saw Officer Booker ride by.

I left after saying hello and catching up a little. The next day, I received the call. My boy, who had just beat a murder charge, was dead. The night before, he had overdosed. Or so we thought.

Within the hour, Officer Booker came rolling by. My boo and I were outside and he motioned us over. I went but my boo did not. Come to find out, my boys drugs had been laced and more than likely so had the rest of the pack. If they sold it, they could be liable for murder.

I’m telling you this because I’ve had a couple of experiences with some real good cops and some real bad cops. Just as I’ve had good experiences and bad experience with black people. Just as I’ve had good and bad experiences with white people. Just as I’ve had good and bad experiences with men on the cloth. Just as I’ve had good and bad experiences with down right rotten criminals.

The bias held against police leads me to question the intent of those who level it. Back in the day, I hated police because I was always doing something wrong and they could be the ones that caught and punished me. Was this valid hate?

I’ve never been called a nigger by an officer. I’ve never been beaten by an officer. I’ve never been falsely accused of a crime.

But I’ve heard my boys being called a nigger. (I hate to admit it but they were acting as though the name fit them.)

But I’ve seen the marks left by an officer on my brother. (Even though he told the cops they were worthless pieces of shit, they still had no right.)

But I’ve seen false accusations lead to death by cops. (One of my boys got into shoot out with cops who wanted to question him for something he didn’t do and lost. What would have happened if they caught him on one of the many crimes he did commit?)

But I’ve also seen cops pull victims out of a burning car. I’ve seen cops try to comfort grieving mothers. I’ve had to ask a cop to help me find my wondering daughter. And I’ve personally experienced a cop changing the life of a young girl.

Maybe we should start placing the blame where it belongs, with the criminals. No matter if the criminal is dressed in a uniform or has his pants hanging down to his knees. They should all be held in the same light.

Let’s take any rap song. You hear the artist talking about pulling out a gun and shooting someone for looking at them wrong and it’s O.K., until that person is a cop. Then all the shit hits the fan. Why? Are cops held in higher esteem. No. They are in a position of power and they abuse that power. I get it.

I’m not finished with this. I have to go and take care of somethings and figure out exactly where to leave this. Come back a little later today and I’ll have this finished. Right now, I’m going to get paid.

Star Johnson a native of Richmond, Virginia and is a blogger at

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