‘Twas a moonlit december night on I-29, between Omaha and Sioux Falls, and not a hint of snow. Pulled into the small town convenience store for fuel for the Black 2 door Golf TDI with the factory dark tint windows. While fueling, note what looks like the town squad car pulled into the empty parking lot across the street… Thing’s so beat up it’s hard to tell if it’s really a squad, and the officer is probably a part timer in this town of a few hundred. Fuel up, pull away from the pumps, use the facilities, come out and the cop’s still there. Hmmm, not the first time my “Euro” look hatchback has been checked out by the police, while my pickup that looks like it belongs to Public Works never gets bothered. But I like the Euro look and bought the black 2 door for that reason, can I help it that I’m an old white lady rather than the young hispanic or asian male they expect? Headlights did seem a little dim, but plenty under the clear skies and full moon. Yup, a headlight out, cop’s waiting for me to pull out on the street so he can bust what he maybe thinks is one of those hispanics his Congressman King is always blaming for everything wrong west of Des Moines. It’s a PITA job under the best of conditions, but I’ve got a spare bulb and make the repair in the cold. Seeing a pair of headlights, he heads off the opposite direction from mine.
In training, part time policeman is often only a half step up from Neighborhood Watch volunteer. In Minnesota it takes two years training to become a licensed full time Peace Officer, but only two weeks to become a licensed part timer… Scary. What if I hadn’t had a spare bulb with, had misunderstood the undertrained officers instructions, and maybe his backup was slow to arrive? What if this part timer had avoided all the psycholgical screenings full time officers have to pass, and was a full blown racist psychopath just looking for an excuse to be judge, jury, and executioner? And what if the town’s so poor they let whoever volunteers play cop, provided they provide there own firearms and squad? The police lights and siren… Anybody can buy them on the internet!
And you don’t have to be young or black to be lynched, queerbashed, or dispatched to a violent country your were rescued from when you were to young to remember, just because your “papers” aren’t on you. When we visited Florida a couple years back, I had to impress upon my autistic nephew that the police and justice “system” were different down there, and they might not understand his harmless autistic behaviors. And with paranoid teabaggers stockpiling arsenals, is anyone safe? Consider for a moment that brown hoodies have become the unofficial uniform of night shift UPS drivers… Yep, a Mr. Zimmerman and his ilk would have probably shot a hoodie hidden UPS driver making a quick nightime stop at a convenience store for coffee.
How many more innocent young men of color, queer folk, immigrants, and old white ladies driving black hatchbacks instead of minivans have to die?