in his charger

so i have a bad attitude about cops.  i dont like them.  yesterday morning as i was biking to work i ran a red light.  a red light i run anytime i find it red because its at the crest of a hill and i like to keep my momentum.  i always check and its a low traveled cross street.  like most mornings there was no one coming.  but i didnt look behind me for the cop.

just after clearing the intersection i heard the whoop of sirens and almost laughed.  i turned around and sure enough one of those super intimidating chargers cops are driving these days had its lights flashing just for me.  so i stopped, already fuming, and waited there: me on my purple and pink road bike, with my kids helmet on.  and then came the cop, big and burly with those dark sunglasses on at 7:55 in the morning.  because the uv rays at that time of day are killer.

courtesy of my sister molly, who i often fight with about my cop hating

as the cop was drawing up my citation, people in cars and walking along the sidewalk threw sympathetic and perplexed expressions my way.  one man stopped and engaged with me, telling me it was cold for a cop to pull over a cyclist.  i had to agree.  the cop said some things about laws just like cars, handed me a safe biking pamphlet, i responded with rude and angry comments.  at one point i think i told him i knew that laws are these things that everyone says you have to follow.  in a way that said, i think your laws are largely stupid and i dont listen to pointless rules.  and now i have 151$ ticket/a court date, which i think i was getting with or without the bad attitude.

and i get that this is the rant of a privileged white girl.  the cop pulled me over on my bike, wah wah.  at least he didn’t beat me or arrest me for no reason, or any of the things a cop might have done to me if i had different colored skin.  but what it reminded me of was my recent musings on how cops have to forfeit some of their humanity to step into their role as a police officer.  and i think you can see it in their eyes, or lack thereof.  like with the cop who pulled me over, there was no opportunity to look him in the eye, to share that basic human connection, because he hid behind his sunglasses.  and just last weekend i was at a march on blair mountain and there were gaggles of cops driving by and walking around.  i did an experiment and tried to get them to look me in the eyes, to acknowledge me as another human being.  it happened once, with a cop who awkwardly waited for me to keep walking before he drove further down the mountain.  we got into a bit of a standoff and finally he turned his head, sheepishly, in my direction and there was a second when he wasn’t a cop anymore.  and that was beautiful.

but think about it.  in order to enforce oftentimes inane laws, in order to meet your quota of citations/arrests, in order to police a largely peaceful population, you have to stop relating to others as people.  and so we have entire forces of slightly psychopathic people who have power over those that they must dehumanize and of course it ends badly.  often.

and it is much easier for me to slip into my cop hating, which will probably not go away immediately–and it was great when my 15y/o sister shared my rage.  but after some calm and articulate conversation with my housemate misty this morning, i am more open to recognizing that we are making cops give up their humanity to do their job.  that it is as dehumanizing to cops as it is to the rest of us.  and i dont think we actually need cops, that we could be doing other things together to replace policing.  but that’s another post or seven.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 06:56:24

    i hopt your cop doe snot show up at your court date. But what i really want is for you to work on the blog post(s) about what a world without cops might look like.


  2. Elyse Huey
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 02:31:44

    I was on a call for a kid too drunk to walk home once. The cop paid for his cab home. It was sweet.


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