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The arrest of Dr. Gates at his home is only one of a long list of real or perceived indignities blacks have continued to encounter in the so called post civil right era. There was a time when black men, regardless of their station in life, fully expected to be confronted by white policemen, particularly when they were in areas where "they didn't belong". There was also a time when I, as an American citizen (with a certification of live birth), thought I knew what my rights were. Now with the arrest of Dr. Gates, I'm not so sure. What does that have to do with my son? Follow me on the flip.

First a story. Shortly after my son was born, I was hospitalized. My roommate was an older white woman. I don't recall how the conversation started (I think someone black had been arrested for no reason), but my roommate told me that as long as my son "kept his nose clean", he had nothing to worry about.

My son is getting ready to go to college. Maybe because we are totally old school (like our parents), he's been sheltered. No aimless hanging out at the mall, no activities unsupervised or without a positive purpose. In effect, I think we've "kept his nose clean".

But I am not so naive as not to tell my son how to behave in the whiter world: don't touch anything in a store unless you buy it, don't put your hands in your pockets, if stopped by the police in the car, keep your hands on the steering wheel and no sudden moves. He wonders why I'm telling him these things while his (white) friends' parents don't tell them to behave this way.

Recently, I was researching what legal organizations advise you do when confronted by a policeman. You will note that "mouthing off" is cause for arrest. In Dr.Gates' case, the police could not have arrested him had he not stepped out of his door.

So what do I tell my quiet, well mannered Aspie who is black to do? I don't want him to become another black honor student arrested or worse, shot by a policeman. Because, it's clear that it is not enough for a black man to "keep his nose clean."

Originally posted to never forget 2000 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:28 PM PDT.

Poll

So, what do I tell him?

19%12 votes
20%13 votes
22%14 votes
6%4 votes
23%15 votes
0%0 votes
7%5 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  try telling him: (7+ / 0-)

    don't raise your voice to an officer, speak politely,
    show your identity, and if you are concerned, call your
    attorney or ask for a shift supervisor

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:31:01 PM PDT

  •  Other comment..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, ardyess

    things will change in the future if we vote for the right people.

    Give every American a fair chance at the race of life - A. Lincoln and B. Obama

    by captainlaser on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:33:08 PM PDT

  •  Why does the Gates affair change anything? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, ardyess

    Tell your son, like most parents do, not to be disorderly while being questioned by a cop, and treat them with the respect they deserve.

    •  Deserve? (5+ / 0-)

      That varies.  The respect they demand, would be more accurate and more universal.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:38:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  respect they deserve (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, costello7, FORUS50, miss SPED

      yeah. i definitely agree. however, as belligerent as the jetlagged old man was, and as wrong as it may have been for him to overreact, there is no reason to arrest a man on his own home.   the police report that came out today at smokinggun.com had one really damning detail.  http://www.reason.com/...

      Don't bet against us" -President Barack Obama

      by lizard people on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:38:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That did not come out today. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian

        That was available within less than 24 hours of the initial news reports.  It was then taken down, but obviously a document like that will not disappear when it's removed from the original server.

        What was the new damning detail?  In Dr. Gates' own words in the interview he gave The Root, a magazine he founded, he at times refused to answer questions and closed a door (unclear if front door or kitchen) in front of the cop.  The ACLU advice, which my white parents told me to follow, is when dealing with a cop make slow predictable movements and don't hide your hands, which would include not closing doors.  It's clear to me that the cop was a jerk and Dr. Gates was a pompous ass who did a number of things, whether by habit, accident, ignorance, or purpose that provoked the police man.  As far as I'm concerned, the end result was predictable given the circumstances and egos involved.

        No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

        by steve04 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 05:42:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tell your son (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeanF, TenthMuse, miss SPED

      that like anyone else cops need to earn respect and they can do it by not being racist authoritarian assholes who want to be "respected" and tell him that, at least for a very long damn while, there will be clueless jerks who miss this point.

      •  I disagree. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian

        Everybody deserves respect, no matter how they treat us. Maybe by showing even our enemies the respect that we wish to be treated with, we will help them to learn to treat us better.

        •  What respect (0+ / 0-)

          does a slave owe a master, a victim owe the victimizer?  Seems strange to me.  And it's a forlorn wish that "respecting" someone who violates your rights, common decency, and so on will make them respect you.  Civility is fine in the situations you are I suppose alluding to -- but somehow honoring an ass who would, in an instant, do away with you is rather pitiful.  Comes from fear.

          •  There are jerks and a-holes in the world. (0+ / 0-)

            There will always be.

            You can control yourself, but you can't control other people.  Disrespecting other people is more likely to make you look like a jerk than cause a jerk to mend their ways.

            Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

            by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:38:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  extremes are extremes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian

            I mean, its easy to search for counter-examples in which you wouldn't want to react with this methodology. I'm of the opinion that a person should always be shown  respect. If a person's gonna curse me out, hit me, or whatever else, then they've probably already made their mind up on that beforehand. Me saying "yes sir" isn't likely to flip a switch and make them want to get angry with me.

            On the other hand though, a simple misunderstanding (like the ever-so common disagreement on definitions) can lead to some big arguments. If I respond to temper with temper, then I'm almost guaranteed to get temper in return (unless they've talked to me before and are taking my advice).

            •  Reminded me of the internet. (0+ / 0-)

              The first thing I thought when I heard about the Crowley/Gates incident was that it was like every stupid internet flame war I've seen.  One person says something, someone else takes it as a personal insult and the only thing that happens is two or more people get pointlessly and unproductively upset with each other.

              Only this time, one of the people was a police officer which changed the outcome.  

              It always takes two people to do this, though.  If I refuse to play the game, if I don't take the bait, if I hold my tongue - then nothing much happens.  It would be perfectly natural to be upset.  It would be understandable to be angry.  What it wouldn't be is productive or useful.

              If the officer had just said "I'm just doing my job and I'd like your cooperation." and ignored Crowley's off topic comments, nothing probably would have happened.  If Crowley had realized that even if he was tired, cranky and upset that the best way to get the whole thing over with quickly was to deal politely and calmly with the officer, then nothing likely would have happened.

              They didn't make those choices.  

              Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

              by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 05:03:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Also (4+ / 0-)

      It doesn't matter if you are "right" or acting within your rights - what really matters is the outcome.  You always have a choice and the best thing to do is to consider to choices in advance.

      For an Aspie, he'll be most comfortable with a script and a set of concrete options.  You might point out that if he does or says certain things, then he may well be arrested and charged for something like disorderly conduct or resisting arrest or assaulting an officer.  Ask him how he thinks he will respond to the experience (handcuffs, confinement, processing).  Will he be able to deal well with it?  Will he react in ways that will cause him to be treated badly?  What are his triggers?  What is he very sensitive to?

      If he reaches the conclusion that being arrested would be very traumatic for him, then he should know exactly what to say, what not to say and how to behave in order to avoid arrest.

      Some people are very big on "standing up for your rights!".  That's good - in theory.  But if "standing up for your rights!" in actuality means dealing with an experience (being arrested) that could be very distressing, it's probably best to decide in advance what the best option is.

      My best advice is that the average police officer simply wants to feel that they are in control of the situation.  Do not act in ways that may make them feel that they are losing that control.  Make every effort to at least appear that you are listening to them and responding to them.  It's odd to think that you should help make a officer feel comfortable, but it may be in your best interest to do so.

      Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

      by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:58:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's good advice for dealing with anyone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian

        not just cops.  Everyone wants to feel that you're actually listening to them, and not just letting them talk.

        Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

        by Ezekial 23 20 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:10:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is true. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          miss SPED, Ezekial 23 20

          It's not always easy to do when your body is full of adrenaline and you are nervous, anxious or worse.  Your first thoughts will be all about yourself, about how you feel about your situation, about how you feel about the officer.  You may be afraid, upset and angry.

          These are natural reactions and emotions - but they may not be helpful.

          Acknowledge your emotions and remind yourself that you need to be in control of yourself and your emotions.  

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:24:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      Don't treat them with the respect they deserve. A cop on a power-trip doesn't deserve respect (or their job, for that matter).

      One should treat the police with the same respect that you would like for them to afford you

    •  This kid wasn't disorderly either (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

  •  It's not safe for anyone (8+ / 0-)

    to raise their voice to a policeman. Whether the cops have legal justification for this, is irrelevant, sad but true.  White parents teach this to their kids also, or should.  

    But in an unfair racist world, it is doubly important for black parents to teach this.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:37:00 PM PDT

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian

      I think I learned some of the ACLU's recommendations from my parents, some from other sources.

      What matters is that there are good ways to deal with police and bureaucrats, and bad ways.  There are certain things that you can do to guarantee an arrest, bureaucratic delay, or other trouble.  There are other things you can do to avoid it.  Sure, in an ideal world, none of these lessons would be required.  In the world we live in, an honest approach to which fights are worth fighting (few) and which fights are worth walking away from is probably the most important lesson.  If that means saying "yes sir" to a copy you think is a total dick, then so be it.  Get home, tell a friend, and give some money to the ACLU.

      Were I you, I'd warn your son that many, hopefully most, cops should be dealt with as if they are not racist, just nervous for their personal safety and have a chip on their shoulder about being looked down on by people with good educations or lots of money.  I'd also warn him that there are some cops and some people of any stripe who are racist, and will require extra defensive measures to deal with, when avoiding them is not an option.

      Just don't paint with a broad brush.

      No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

      by steve04 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 05:52:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the bigger issue is civil liberties (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, miss SPED, sturunner

    the police report out today contains one really damning detail in the officer's actions:

    http://www.reason.com/...

    Sgt. Crowley led a (rightfully, in my opinion) belligerent jetlagged old man out of his house who had just been accused of robbing his own home. Read into it whatever racial aspects it has or doesnt have. It doesn't matter. What matters is the fact that the officer deliberately lured the professor out in the front to make a scene in front of the neighbors to have probable cause to arrest him for "loud and tumultuous" behavior.

    Don't bet against us" -President Barack Obama

    by lizard people on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:37:03 PM PDT

  •  tell your son (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, lgmcp, SeekCa, miss SPED, sturunner

    Its not a white thing, its not a black thing, its a cop thing. Its always been yes sir,no sir three bags full. They have the hammer and if you give them grief they will drop it on you.

  •  Diary #4,492 on "The Gates Affair." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    steve04, never forget 2000

    I must say, a rather interesting iteration, strongly reminiscent of diaries #2,118 and #495, with distinct overtones of #3,767.  

    Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

    by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:39:53 PM PDT

    •  i know you agreed with Crowley (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, miss SPED

      perhaps you should read this: http://www.reason.com/...

      it's not about race. it's about civil liberties.

      Don't bet against us" -President Barack Obama

      by lizard people on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:40:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's about outrage addiction. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SeanF, steve04, Fabian

        Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

        by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:42:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ezekial 23 20

          I think the incident was stupidity and wounded egos on both sides, no matter what the laws are.  

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:03:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think Troubador means outrage addiction (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lizard people

            in the blogosphere and news cycle generally -- both of which things are true.  But partisan outrage is addictive, possibly even in a literal neurochemical sense.  It drives an unimaginably huge set of industries, and is unlikely to be abated by scolding.

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:07:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  outrage about a man getting arrested in his own (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              home. we always do that here. i wonder why troubadour is on the side of law enforcement overstepping their bounds this time. this isn't about race, people should understand that.

              Don't bet against us" -President Barack Obama

              by lizard people on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:22:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  but the consequences of police overstepping (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, miss SPED

            are felt by the citizenry, not the police. this isn't about race, it's about civil liberties. you can't arrest a man in his own home.

            Don't bet against us" -President Barack Obama

            by lizard people on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:21:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This diary (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              miss SPED

              is about what a parent should tell his black son who has Asperger's.

              If you know anything about Asperger's, you should know that they often have difficulties with social interactions.  Social "scripts" are often helpful so that they have something to use when they are unsure what the correct response should be.  Aspies can get easily flustered or confused when dealing with unfamiliar situations.  This increases the chances of them making mistakes or misunderstanding social cues.

              IOW - if Joe Average or even Joe Havahd Professor can make mistakes when dealing with a police officer, an Aspie is even more likely to, and make even worse mistakes.

              Crowley/Gates is only something that sparked this discussion.

              Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

              by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:33:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  There's a lot of us here (4+ / 0-)

      and some folks are not done talking and thinking about it.  If you ARE done, why join in?

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:41:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To keep this place from degenerating into (0+ / 0-)

        a rudderless Naderite quagmire with no sense of priority or perspective.

        Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

        by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:44:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's unfair (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pd, Tonedevil, costello7, miss SPED

          This diary is not rudderless, not Naderite, and not lacking in perspective.  The President himself found it worth his while to comment again, today.  To react to that, is no sign of poor priorities.  

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:47:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, I shouldn't single out this diary. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian

            I'm simply commenting on the fact that so many people have chosen such a marginal topic.

            Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

            by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:50:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The incident itself is trivial enough (4+ / 0-)

              but represents serious and ongoing questions.  Racial profiling is no myth.  Privacy and property expectations sometimes fall into in tension with legitmate needs for public order. Just how much DO cops have a right, not just to obedience, but to calm, cheerful, respectful obedience?  And so on.

              "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

              by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:54:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right, but... (0+ / 0-)

                exactly how much impact do these issues have on the daily life of the average American, even among minorities?  Is that what people are thinking about and worrying about all day?

                Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

                by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:56:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  People of color (4+ / 0-)

                  don't have much choice about it.  Every time they get in a car or walk down a street, it's an issue.  Affordable health care is huge, but even health care doesn't come up as often as Driving While Black, if you're black.  

                  "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                  by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:00:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I guess I'll have to take your word for it. (0+ / 0-)

                    Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

                    by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:07:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, take their word for it. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Tonedevil, miss SPED

                      That's what I'm doing.

                      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:13:07 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Oh, you were just engaging in hearsay? (0+ / 0-)

                        Funny, you seemed to be so full of righteous indignation, I simply assumed that you had some actual personal experience with it.

                        Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

                        by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:14:15 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I don't think I've been particularly hot (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Tonedevil, miss SPED

                          under the collar here, in fact I think I've simply persisted in presenting a point of view different than your own, in a relatively calm and balanced way.   If you want to see me indignant, you'll have to catch me some other time.

                          As for "hearsay", that's a pretty trivializing term for accepting the overwhelming testimony of African-Americans on what they experience.  

                          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                          by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:18:39 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  But your comments are not their testimony. (0+ / 0-)

                            Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

                            by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:19:37 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, that's why I mentioned it. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil

                            What I hear from a majority of black interlocutors, is that this is a looming constant.  I think it behooves us to believe them.

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:22:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I do believe things people tell me (0+ / 0-)

                            about their own lives.

                            Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

                            by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:23:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil

                            And that's what I'm doing.  But it seems you would prefer that I not then mention it later, as something I consider credible and true.

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:26:53 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Mention it as something you hear from others (0+ / 0-)

                            not as a fact either personally known or statistically verified.  The existence of racial profiling is a fact - your characterization of it as a constant, universal source of anxiety, however, is not within your purview to relate as fact.

                            Charles Dickens would shit in his grave if he saw An Apollo Carol

                            by Troubadour on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:30:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Now you're just quibbling. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil

                            If I've read scores of first-hand discussions right on this blog about what it's like to be an African-American subjected to racial profiling, and to varying degrees they have ALL indicated a pervasive and constant anxiety ...  then I contend that it IS within my purview to relate it as fact. I have listened to a wide variety of credible informants who appear to have a broad consensus, and I have accepted their  collective representation of their first-hand experience. If that's hearsay, then a little more hearsay would be good for this country.

                            Do you have to be gay or lesbian to know, and to state, that the passage of Prop 8 detracted painfully from the joy of November 5th for GLBT Americans?  Of course not.  It is not necessary to be black, to observe that black folks have to drive despite fear every day, whereas most of us don't go to the doctor every day.      

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:46:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Obviously we are both tenacious. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Fabian

                            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                            by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:54:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  except (3+ / 0-)

                  exactly how much impact do these issues have on the daily life of the average American, even among minorities?  Is that what people are thinking about and worrying about all day?

                  Well, in a word, yes.

                  Because to not pay attention to this stuff gets POC shot by police 41 times (Diallo) or 50 times (Sean Bell).

            •  "Marginal topic?" (4+ / 0-)

              This is an important topic for the people who have to face this situation every day.  Clearly you don't have to.  For some of us it can be a matter of life and death.

              If you don't like the topic, don't open the diary.  Just saying...

  •  other comment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, miss SPED, Ezekial 23 20

    tell him that these things will happen and they are not fair, but they do not define him or his worth.  i can't remember who said it but, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent!"

  •  Well my mother told me (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, lgmcp, miss SPED, Ezekial 23 20

    "if stopped by the police in the car, keep your hands on the steering wheel and no sudden moves."  She also said to be sure to call the officer Sir.  My family is white.

    Tell your son that if he is stopped by the police, be polite, respectful and answer their questions. That's what I told my son.

    Yes, there is racism in the world and it's a damn shame. Deciding to take it out on any authority figure you interact with is not particularly wise.

    •  You're a lot like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miss SPED

      my hospital roommate. You believe that the police will reciprocate with a professional manner. My son is not loud, aggressive, or confrontative by nature, but I am not confident that this will help him avoid mistreatment. We have too many examples of black males who have not been verbally aggressive, handcuffed and shot.  Additionally, by advising your son to answer their questions, he is abrogating some of his rights by giving consent.

      •  No I don't assume tha that the police (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        steve04, Fabian

        will reciprocate with a professional manner.  I hope they will, but I am all too aware that sometimes they don't. However, you can be pretty sure that if you decide to be confrontational with the police things will go poorly.

        As to incriminating yourself. It's hard to do that if you haven't actually done anything wrong. Once again, if you decide to stand on your rights and refuse to speak to the officer without a lawyer present then you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself a ride in a police car.

        Now, if you have actually committed a serious offense, by all means take the ride, get the lawyer and go from there. But if not, then your highest probability of being able to go on with your life with minimal disruption is cooperation.

        •  True. Apply it to the Gates situation. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fabian

          If a cop had seen him forcing entry into his house (I've seen it described as forcing the door with a shoulder or prying the door, perhaps both were involved, it ultimately doesn't matter), the cop would aggressively ask him what was going on.  If he refused to answer, the situation would escalate really quickly.  If he cooperated, explained the circumstances, and allowed the cop to confirm a few of the details, it would all de-escalate.

          Gates, in his own words, proudly claimed he refused to answer some of the police man's questions.  

          So he’s looking at my ID, he asked me another question, which I refused to answer.

          http://www.theroot.com/...

          That kind of approach is just asking for trouble, whether you're white or black.  If you're black, and the cop is racist and white, then it's asking for double trouble.

          Why on earth wouldn't Gates have just answered the cop's stupid questions?  There's a very good chance that if he had swallowed his ego and cooperated more readily, the cop would have just gone on his way.

          No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

          by steve04 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 06:04:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ditto on the steering wheel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, lgmcp, miss SPED

    I made the mistake of stepping out of the car one time when I got pulled over for speeding, had my wallet out and was fishing my driver's license when the cop started shouting like a madman for me to 'get back in the car and put my hands on the wheel'.  Looked up and his gun was out.

    I got back in quickly.

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:46:59 PM PDT

    •  I always wonder, how exactly are we supposed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, miss SPED, Ezekial 23 20

      to know this stuff?  I never had a unit in high school on how to act during police encounters.  Do I wait with my hands on the wheel, or do I start rummaging in the glove compartment for my car documents?  Honestly, if they want an exact protocol, shouldn't they publicize it on billboards or something?  I'd just like to figure out how to avoid getting yelled at.  And I'm an unthreatening white office lady.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:57:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just figured I wasn't paying attention (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, lgmcp

        in driver's ed class when they covered it.

        Apparently facing forward with hands on wheel until they knock on window to ask you to roll it down is preferred.  And even then, leave one hand on the wheel and slowly reach wherever you need to reach to roll the window down.  Well, everything slowly and evenly, from that point on.

        I've been told they have to assume anyone they stop might pull out a weapon and try to shoot them at any moment, no matter how unthreatening you look.  If you look at it from that viewpoint, I can see what they're thinking, but I was just glad I'd been to the bathroom shortly before.

        Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

        by Ezekial 23 20 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:04:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In a car (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, miss SPED, Ezekial 23 20

        I'd recommend imitating a statue with your hands on the wheel.

        An officer can't see much of the interior of a vehicle, especially SUVs.  They can see the people in the front seat, but they can't see much of the back seats or anything below chest level.  They have no idea if they can trust you not to try to run them down or grab a weapon.

        And leave your seat belt on.  

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:08:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In addition to hands on steering wheel (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        steve04, Fabian, lgmcp, miss SPED

        You should turn on your interior light so that they can see inside the car. Seriously.

  •  What's your son's question? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, miss SPED

    I know parents want to advise their kids about everything forever, but if he wants your input he can ask for it.

    I think your question may be more like "What do I tell myself?"

    John Galt is the new Walter Mitty.

    by Bob Love on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:47:09 PM PDT

  •  That's just (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, miss SPED

    living in fear... it may be wise...your ass will survive...but...

    I was in basic training...an assistant drill sergeant was bragging to some trainess about cutting off a Vietcong's ears...they whole thing was obscene.  I was there.  What to do?  Better just shutup!  But that revulsion too difficult to overcome.  So I told him he was an asshole.  And I mentioned that if he fucked with me unless he killed me I'd let everyone know about his stories etc.

    So I ended up going through basic twice.  Happily, there were those who knew he was an asshole so I had that going for me...

    Jesus.  I should have shut up.  But I got lucky and like knowing what I did.  Thought...you got a chance of not being a moron...good chance of not being a moron but dead.  A typical cathexis in this Our Times.

    •  Lesson to learn: pick your battles (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian

      Sounds like you're ultimately slightly more glad you did what you did than if you had done nothing.  It's important to understand the consequences and to act with understanding of realistic outcomes.

      No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

      by steve04 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 06:07:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You tell him the same thing I have told my son! (0+ / 0-)

    Only in America can a black man rise from poverty, and become president.  Gates was wrong, plain and simple, he embarrassed us and should apologize to the Cambridge police department.

  •  Tell your son the truth, that he is a member of a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, irishwitch

    minority group deemed by the wider community as unworthy of the same respect, and full equality.  While conditions have improved, there is still a long way to go.  Tell him that he can still thrive in this society, but he will have a tougher road to travel to to achieve the same accomplishments as his white counterparts.  Yes it sucks, but it's reality, and as soon as he recognizes it he can take steps to avoid common pitfalls.

    "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

    by lordcopper on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:00:56 PM PDT

  •  MLK Was a wise man (4+ / 0-)

    I enjoy reading some of his works. But one thing that stood out to me was how he got into nonviolence and the power behind it. So I always try to train myself to act as MLK would act and as he taught members of the SCLC to act, particularly towards police and authority. It doesn't guarantee that I will not be arrested by an egotistical cop, but it should eliminate the statements of "well there was fault on both sides". I want people who are reviewing my cases to wonder how the heck could this guy get arrested. He did NOTHING that could even be considered wrong.

    Some call that selling out. I call that part of the "Black man's burden".

  •  Oh, one more bit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    steve04, lgmcp

    Around my town, race isn't the big divider - it's dress.

    You dress like you pulled your clothes out of a dumpster, you get harassed, whether you've got a PhD or a GED.  You dress in 'business attire' and you get sucked up to in general.  In between, you generally get ignored.

    Whole lotta classism still going on in this country.

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:08:54 PM PDT

    •  Vehicle appearance is huge, too. (0+ / 0-)

      If your vehicle had dents and dings, or a busted lens covers, you'll get pulled over every time.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:11:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not in my locale (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp

        The cars that don't have large rust holes or gouges in them are the rarity around here, so dents and dings are meaningless.

        I can stick my fist through holes in the side of mine.

        Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

        by Ezekial 23 20 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 04:15:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tell him you've got to give respect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, miss SPED

    to get respect. Tell him that the cop's role in society is to enforce the law and to do that requires that people cooperate with them and do what they say, when they say, without giving them any lip.

    Tell him that if he perceives that a cop is asking in a racist, unjust, disrespectful manner, tell him to do what they say, when they say, without giving them any lip, while at the same time taking note of the cop's name and badge number so as to log a complaint and maybe even a lawsuit at a later date and time.

    Tell him not to mouth off to the cops -- ever -- if he values his health, potential to earn a living and status as a free man.

  •  I am white so maybe my comments are garbage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    never forget 2000, Fabian, irishwitch

    but I have two college aged sons and you bet I have talked to them about interacting with the police.
    My sons attended a majority minority school.  I teach at a minority majority school. I am all day every day in the fine company of folks of all shades, and so were my sons.  I told my sons and their friends to be respectful, to keep their hands where they could be seen, and to say as little as possible. Answer a direct question honestly, and no more. Assume everything they say and do will be used against them in a court of law, I told them. If they are taken in, they need to not talk, to ask for their parents and a lawyer.  I said it over and over, keep your temper and keep your mouth shut.

    Now the advice I gave kids I love, who are minors, is fairly different from what I think in terms of adults whose civil rights are violated by the police. I think Gates knew exactly what he was doing. So did Sgt. Crowley. If you are a lawyer, have one in your family, or have a lot of money, you and your son can sound off about your rights. (I still think it is good to not make any sudden moves though, no matter what one's color.)

    Thank you for writing a diary asking this question.  I think it is important.  I am one who taught my kids growing up that policemen are our friends, and they are there to help you. (I still believe many policepersons are.) Maybe there is a way to convey this?

    •  That's all true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian

      A friend of mine's father can call the San Francisco DA, doesn't matter who's mayor at the time, and arrange to have lunch.  During the original Iraq war protests, she told a cop prodding her and some others to move along with his baton to, in roughly these words, "get that fucking thing away from my ass you pervert, or you'll hear from the DA."  Rich white girl prerogative.  Probably the only way you can talk to a cop like that.  Also helps to have many sympathetic witnesses.

      No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

      by steve04 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 06:13:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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