The Time A Black Man Got Into A Cop’s Face and Didn’t Get Arrested…Or Beaten: A Small Victory For America

January 22, 2013  |  

Aww lawd. And the man kept talking, working himself up into a frenzy. While other people were becoming more hopeful and even flirting with the [fine] men in uniform, he was getting louder and more belligerent. Finally, when he got up to the line of military officers in front of the subway, he was stepping over people, particularly me, to get up in the one Latino Police Officer’s face, finger extended hollering. “You don’t know what you’re doing!” “We should have been in here a long time ago.”  It was almost like I was watching an emboldened, rich white guy talk to the police. Never had I seen a black man… or even a black person get away with anything like that. Certain that something was going to pop off, my sister’s boyfriend held me back, sure that somebody was going to get hit in the face. The crowd, even his wife, were telling him to calm down. But he was way beyond that. His eyes were enlarged, his chest was out and his lips were turned up in disgust. He literally looked like he was preparing himself for war. The soldiers, and even the police officer, just looked annoyed, telling the man to calm down.

But he kept going. He got so loud, so angry that his shenanigans were further slowing the process of getting on the train. The police officer grabbed the man’s wrist, asking him if he wanted to get on the train or not.  Instead of him realizing the severity of the situation, it just infuriated him even more. He hollered, “Oh, I’m getting on the Metro!” By this time the crowd starting telling the other officers that they should just go ahead and lock him up. The man beside me, who had his young daughter with him, yelled out “Arrest that ni—…” before catching himself.  I was among the group. The man literally reached over me to yell at the police! Eventually the police officer let him go, his wife ushered him onto the stairs and they made their way down into the subway platform, the man still fussing and looking back in the direction of the officer. I was shocked. I’ve heard and even seen people get arrested or roughed up for doing way less. Honestly, I really couldn’t understand it. I looked at the officer he was pointing at and asked him, “Why didn’t you arrest him?” He, still calm, said, “They really don’t want us out here arresting folks today.” Well. That absolutely blew my mind.

Even once I’d gotten off the train and back to the restaurant and later the apartment where I was staying, I kept replaying the scene in my head. What happened? Was everybody just in a good mood that day, even the police? Are there always days when “they,” the higher ups, don’t want the police arresting folks? Though the man surely deserved to at least be put in handcuffs until he calmed his behind down, I looked at the whole thing as a victory. One, the man, a black man got to express his grievances to the police, no matter how wrongly he went about it, without being abused. Had this been the ’50’s, the ’90’s or even two weeks ago, he would have been roughed up. Two, the police officer and all the other soldiers and officers around him showed great, and I do mean great, restraint by not throwing him to the ground. How many times have we seen police consistently abuse their power in an attempt to teach someone a lesson instead of upholding any laws? I don’t know where they got this guy, or how he was trained, but he’s the type of man we need on the streets serving and protecting us, a man who doesn’t let his pride act for him, a man who knows when to let the petty stuff go in favor of serving the larger good. Had he clawed through the crowd to arrest that man, not only would he have probably stepped on my feet, it would have taken another twenty minutes for us to get on the train. And the higher ups are to be commended as well for keeping Inauguration Day, Martin Luther King Day peaceful, even when others weren’t inspired to do the same. There were some bumps, some people lost their patience but I think the energy and most of the actions and even the inaction of others honored, in a roundabout way, what Dr. King fought for and showed me that there’s still a little hope for America, yet.


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