HILLBILLY RAGE and POLICE SUPREMACY
A couple of weeks ago i was picking something up at Home Depot and on the way out of the parking lot decided to take a left and stop in Micky D's (a block away) for a cup of coffee. As I waited at the light to turn left, a State Trooper passed me. Then another, and another. 4 cops passed me as I waited for the light to turn green. When the last one passed i realized I hadn't fastened my seat belt. I could've clicked it on....but I didn't. When I parked the truck I heard the "Woop-woop" of the Statey who pulled in behind me. I was already out the door of the truck. The trooper (who looked about 18) told me I wasn't wearing my seat belt and to get back in the truck. I smiled and complied.
I'm always nice to cops (until I'm not). As a sat there, I had the feeling that even with my explanation, and apology for non-compliance of seatbelt law, this kid was going to give me a ticket. When he came back to my window he began to explain what I had to do to pay the ticket he had in his hand. This is when "Bad Mike" came out. "Spare me the fucking lecture." I told him, grabbing the ticket and tossing it on the floor. "You know it doesn't pay to be nice to you guys." I continued in disgust. Yeah, I can be that guy. In retrospect I should've reeled myself in. But I didn't. I wasn't afraid to speak my mind. As I got out of the truck I kept it up. I told this baby-faced Statey in the McDonald's parking lot "Why don't you get a fucking job where you aren't so bored and quit targeting the working man?" He told me to have a nice day, got in his prowler and left. I finally got my coffee.
I tell you this story in the wake of two more police officer murders of Black men, as a way of pointing out just how imbalanced the world is. If I had been a Black man I never would've felt I had the right to address an armed officer of the state in such a disrespectful manner. If I had been Black I probably would've been arrested. If I had been armed I could've been killed. I'm not proud of the way i acted, but that said, I was totally within my rights. My "white" rights.
Yesterday Shewho and I went to the city to deal with a little family drama early, and I had a class lecture scheduled at SVA. My old friend Robinski had invited me to give an overview of my work and do some student studio visits. He met me at the elevators with the news that another Black man had been killed by police in New Orleans. We both moaned and commiserated over the tragic event and then went back to talk art. It barely affected us. This morning I saw the video that a Minn. woman live streamed on Facebook of the aftermath of her boyfriend being shot and killed by a cop during a traffic stop for a busted taillight, as her 4 year old daughter sat in the back seat. As I relayed this event to Shewho over our morning phone I literally broke down sobbing in tears. Where the fuck did that come from?
Once I composed myself, I went back to writing this post. If I, a privileged white stranger, can be moved to tears by this horrible injustice, imagine how the entire Black community feels right now. I have every right, and many opportunities, to express my rage, (even while legally armed). The calmness with which Lavish Reynolds talked to the police officer who had just killed her boyfriend, as she filmed, is mindbogglingly heart wrenching. Instinctively she knows to stay calm, or suffer the same fate. We live in a world of not only white, but Police Supremacy. Social media is full of outrage and rightfully so. But the loudest voice is silent. Where is the NRA? Here is a citizen, legally armed, complying calmly with a police officer's command to show ID, and as he reaches for his wallet he is executed. He did everything right.....except be born with the proper skin color. What does the NRA, the FBI, the DOJ and the rest of our alphabet soup of agencies have to say about that? The tears are welling up again.