Blacks in the Criminal Justice System Essay
Blacks in the Criminal Justice System
All I wanted to do was pop down to the all night chemist and get some medicine for my wife. Should have been a job that took ten minutes at the most but here I am sitting in my car a good thirty minutes later waiting for this young police officer to decide if he wants to prosecute me for something or not. Should have known better than to drive my mother-in-law’s car I suppose. I should have bought my own; but there you go. Her car was behind mine, she didn’t have a problem with me taking it, she gave me the keys for goodness sake. But no way should a young black male be driving a posh Mercedes around at night on his own.
No I would have been ignored perhaps if I had been driving the old ford compact. But then no I would have still been picked up, after all it is gone ten pm and this is a “nice” area. No copper on this beat would understand that I was actually only about 200 yards from home. But that’s not how things are done around here, are they? No, this copper thinks I have stolen the car, you can just tell by the amount of time he is spending on that radio of his. Doesn’t matter that I have already given him my license and registration for the car; doesn’t matter that I have given him my home phone number so he can speak to my mother-in-law herself.
Nope you can just tell from the way this guy is looking at me that he is planning to arrest me for something tonight, he is just having trouble working out what for. Oh well, I guess I am about to find out what he wants now, here he comes again. Oh yes officer of course I will get out of the car – do I mind being searched, what difference does it make if I do. Can he look in the car, well I am not going to stop him, I know what happens to young blacks who “resist” during a pull-over. Pop the trunk, yes, stand aside, well yes to that as well.
I wonder how he is going to turn two bags of flour and some sugar into a criminal offence – “carrying an illegal substance” perhaps? After all sugar is supposed to be bad for you. Honestly this copper, doesn’t he realize that I know exactly what he is doing and why – doesn’t he know that I know that if my skin color was different that he would not have even pulled me over in the first place. After all I wasn’t speeding, I know there is nothing wrong with the car, there was no way I could be considered “acting in a suspicious manner”, my only crime – my face doesn’t fit that of a Mercedes owner.
Funny thing is that I deal with cases just like this one everyday in my profession. Oh yes, I didn’t mention to the policeman that I am a lawyer. Didn’t want to aggravate him any more than necessary. I am an educated Black man, “made my moma proud” I did. Went to college and everything and yes I work full time. That is how I am able to afford to live in this posh neighborhood. That’s how come I can provide for my wife, our new baby and even my mother-in-law. I am a hard working, law abiding, family orientated young black man. But to this police officer I am just trouble with a capital “T”.
Finally, what, I can go now officer? Oh thank you so much officer, I really appreciate it and yes sir I will go home directly. After all I have only been trying to do that for the last thirty minutes. My wife will be worried that I have been gone for so long, the mother-in-law will think I have crashed her new car. What is really ironic is that when we moved into this area we didn’t ever stop to consider that maybe the color of our skin would influence the way we would be treated. We just wanted somewhere safe for our children to grow up.
I work, I pay my taxes and I try and help others. We go to Church regularly and want to teach our kids to be decent human beings. But how am I ever going to explain to my own kids that prejudice will follow you no matter where you go in life. In this country the American dream might be achievable for some people, but not if you are male, young and black. In this country being young and black means you look like a criminal, especially to white police officers. Part Two: White police officer pulling over African American male in late model Mercedes. It is just typical, you know.
I had just stopped and bought myself a hot dog and some fresh coffee and wouldn’t you know it, I see a young black male cruising past driving a late model Mercedes if you can believe it. Those cars are worth what, $60 – $70,000, and I guess this guy just thought he was so lucky when he had “acquired” it. Okay you know and I know that this car is going to be stolen, but innocent until proven guilty and all that, it is my duty nonetheless to find out where this thug, I beg your pardon, young man is going in this posh car. Who knows maybe he runs an all night valet service and is just dropping off the car to its owner.
Actually come to think about it I am fairly sure that I saw this car earlier this evening, that’s right, some older white woman was driving it. I think I saw it parked outside that posh looking place just around the corner. I know that some new people had just moved in there, well tonight is their lucky night. Caught a guy red-handed with the stolen car and it will only take a few minutes to let the owners know it has been recovered. Hey, I haven’t even heard a bulletin about the car being missing yet – well that’s the police force for you. Fast, efficient and ready to recover items you didn’t even know were missing.
You can’t get any better service than that. The driver seems polite enough. Had to approach the car really slowly, because although I had only seen the driver, his mates could have been laying down in the back seat. Heard an officer was killed just last week when he pulled up what he thought was one person and there were three more thugs hidden from view. Can’t be too careful, especially when he went for his license and registration in the glove box. Gave me a bit of a fright when he leaned over to get the stuff, but there was no way I was going to let that show.
No way, I am just going to take these documents back and sit in my car for a minute to let my nerves calm down. Let him think I am on my radio, checking him out really good. Well isn’t that strange? No criminal record, no warrants outstanding for this young thug. Address given doesn’t match the one on the license, but he claims he has just moved into the area. Claims too that the car is his mother-in-laws, like that is right. What woman with a surname like “Gladstone-Price” would have a son-in-law that was obviously a thug and Black as well, that guy must have thought I was an idiot.
Dispatch reckons there will be a slight delay trying the phone number that the driver gave for the owner of the car, so while I am waiting I will just go and take another look at the car and driver – let this guy know who is in charge around here. Nothing like a good frisk and a car search to let these criminals know that police authority was not something to be mucked about with, especially in this neighborhood. What a strange night. Gave the guy and the car a good going over but didn’t find anything illegal.
Then dispatch calls and tells me that the guy is in the clear and that the owner is a Mrs. Gladstone-Price, and that yes she had loaned her car to her son-in-law, Quincey Parks. What was even more astounding is that apparently this Parks is a lawyer and that he and his wife have just moved to that posh house around the corner. No telling what that will do to the local house prices. Still no need to apologize or anything, he’s a lawyer, he should know what to expect. I’m sure if I did a check on his family half of his brothers would be serving time and the other half probably should be.
Time to head off and get another hot dog and some coffee. That guy Parks did mention something about police harassment, but hey he should be more understanding than anybody. If he doesn’t like drawing attention to himself he should never have bought his new house, and he should have stayed with his own people. That’s the problem with Blacks today – give them rights and all of a sudden they go moving into your neighborhood. Well if he thinks he is going to be asked to join the residents association he is in for a bit of a shock, we don’t welcome his kind around here.