Cutlery Sets and Cops
I had seven guns, pointing at me one night. I was almost home, almost free. Until the police stopped me. Living on millionaires row, in Saratoga California, is a blessing and a curse. There was only one other black man, living on Sobey Rd. And that was my neighbor, 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary. The cops had already stopped me, six times that week. Each time asking me, if I was on parol. I would always ask the police, when they stopped me. Asking that question. Did they ask the parol question, to every driver that they stopped?
The cops would always say, “Yes, we ask that question to everyone”. I would then, ask the cops. If I was a hundred year old, little old lady from Pasadena. Would you still ask me, if I was on parole. The cop hesitated, and said yes. I told the cop, to check his police Blotter. “I don’t answer those types of questions”.
I wondered, why they needed so many guns. Am I the living dead, a vampire? I see my life passing before my eyes. Just my luck, I get the police officer, with the worst communication skills. Giving me instructions. This motherfucker, is going to get me killed.
This cop asks me to put both of my hands, outside my driver side window. Then while my hands are outside the window, he asks me to use my left hand, to turn my car engine off. Not only does this cop, think blacks are ‘Bred’ for sports. But he also thinks, that we are ambidextrous. I told the cop, ” do you mean, that you want me to use my right hand to turn my ignition off?” He says,” Yes, that is what I meant”.
Then the cop says, “take your keys, and throw them out of the window”. Now mind you, I have seven guns pointing at me. And through all of this tension, I supposed to be the calm one. To me, the only people in the room that are not calm. The people that you expect to be calm. In a situation like this. Are the professional police officers. And they now have seven guns, pointing at an unarmed civilian. To me, they are not being very calm right now.
Maybe it was the throwing of the keys, that brought them fear. It could be that some of the cops, grew up watching Tarzan. And saw how accurate, the African tribal people were, at throwing spears. And figured, maybe some how , I could throw my keys at them like a spear. And take them all out, in one fell swoop.
My first thought was, “What if I throw them to far, or not far enough. Will they shoot me?” This cop, was not one for details. So I took a chance, closed my eyes, and throw my keys out of the window. Like someone throwing change, into a wishing well. My wish being, “Please god don’t let these fools shoot me”. The cop then asked me, to get out of the car slowly.
While I had my back turned, toward the police officers. I was asked, to put my hands behind my head. Rain Man, then ordered me to walk backwards. Then he said to me, “Walk towards me”. Now mind you, I was walking backwards, in the dark, and there were seven cops in back of me. With their guns drawn. I was hoping that I did not, trip on something, walking backwards. And fall down, and have my falling backwards, be mistaken for me going for my gun, and get shot.
“Is this how it happens? Is this how black people get shot?” Are we getting shot, because police are unable to give clear instructions? And not because we are resisting arrest? Rain Man’s orders, got louder and louder. ” Towards me!, towards me!” He kept saying. I finally said, “Towards who?, there are sevens police officers behind me.” I explained. “I don’t have eyes behind my head!”. He finally realized, the hoops he was having me jump into, trying to obey his instructions.
He finally found clarity, and asked me to move backwards towards his voice. After they checked my car. I asked the officers, why they had stopped me. I also explained to them, that they had stopped me right in front of my house. They told me that, they had gotten a call, about a Mexican and a Black person, walking up the street with knives. The police let me go, and apologized for inconveniencing me.
The crazy thing about that night, was not just getting pulled over. But the fact that, earlier that day. Some random person, who was selling cutlery sets on the street. Approached me, and asked me if I wanted to buy a box. I told him, no thank you. But if I had bought those knives from him. They would have been in my car, at the time when those cops had stopped me. And I would have went to jail, with no “Get out of jail card”. Life is a trip. The racial makeup of Saratoga was 16,125 (53.9%) White, 94 (0.3%) African American, 41 (0.1%) Native American, 12,376 (41.4%) Asian, 23 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 202 (0.7%) from other races, and 1,065 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,034 persons (3.5%). – By Lynel Gardner