Fellow parents, the unfortunate truth called racial profiling is becoming one that is seemingly allowing the powers that be a license to harm, harass and in worse cases kill young, unarmed men of color at an alarming rate. If I, personally, read or hear another story on the news about police murdering a teen or young adult it’ll be too soon. Quite the loathsome task, having to explain to my child at the age of 11 that he doesn’t share the same basic civil liberties as his white friends. He’s not innocent until proven guilty, in fact, it’s the other way around. And God forbid he should find himself in a tight situation with any police officer, I need him to walk away from said encounter alive, firstly, but would love it even more if weren’t tasered, maced or beaten in the process. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best I’ve been told but eff that! How about I prepare him to handle himself in a way that will more than likely guarantee a safe return should he ever be approached by the police in a an aggressive manner. His father and I did some research to prepare this script of sorts so he’ll have an idea of what to do.
First, there are a three ground rules that are to be followed at all times when in being questioned by police.
1.) You do NOT run from the police. It gives them probable cause to believe you’re a suspect, armed or breaking the law in some way and they will take you down by any means necessary – they will shoot you. Do not run.
2.) Never touch an officer. You keep your hands to yourself and out of your pockets. If you so much as reach or raise a hand at officer you could be killed, beaten or charged with felony assault.
3.) Do not resist. If they’re insistent on cuffing you, assume the position, put your hands behind your head and stand with your feet shoulder length apart. If you’re placed under arrest, you have the right to remain silent so do that. Say nothing other than “I’m choosing to remain silent. I need to speak to a lawyer.” they may continue to question you but the sander remains the same – “I’m choosing to remain silent. I need to speak to a lawyer.” There is nothing more bothersome to an officer than a civilian who knows their rights better than most.
Being harassed by the police is sure to arouse emotions and can lead to shouting matches, resistance and a whole host of other issues that could be avoided by remaining calm. Cooler heads always prevail. Don’t loud talk or use grand gestures with your hands while speaking. Be cool and keep your hands in plain sight at all times. For example:
Police: Let me see some ID.
Son: Put both hands up and announce “my wallet is in my back right pocket. I’m reaching for my wallet. Are we understood?” Wait until they acknowledge what you’ve said to get your wallet.
You could argue that if you’re not being detained they have no reason to see your ID.
Son: Am I being detained?
Son: Am I free to go?
This kind of back and forth typically leads to random searches and unnecessary ticketing so it’s best to be compliant. Show your ID and, in most cases, keep it moving.
If an encounter becomes or is immediately aggressive in nature, we’ve suggested that our son do the following:
Police: (guns drawn) get down on the ground!
Remember to keep a cool head to the best of your capabilities, put your hands up, get on your knees and announce yourself for everyone to hear to draw attention and hopefully video documentation.
Son: My Name is James Williams. I am a legal US citizen under the age of 18. I am unarmed and willing to cooperate with police protocol. I live at 555 Maple drive and I was just walking home from basketball practice. I’ve committed no crime. I am unarmed.
Have you had this conversation with your children? How do you tell them to handle the police?