Dear Rochester Police Department,
In theory I know some of you out there are good people. Maybe you got into the job because you really wanted to help people, or perhaps this is your first step on the path to becoming a judge. A part of me wants to believe there are some good men and women on “the force” (an appropriate name if I’ve ever heard one). Yet my experience as a shelter worker tells me different.
You see, each one of you – and I’ve met quite a cast of you – walks into my shelter with your noses turned up. Like your shit don’t stink. Like you’re better than me, like you’re better than my guys. Each one of you have a certain tone to your voice, a kind of swagger to your step, a kind of nervous jerking of your hands. Most of you have had enough good raising not to completely show your ass…
But some of you do.
Some of you, while off duty and driving down the street, will think you see a black male smoking a joint (not a hand rolled cigarette) outside a homeless shelter. Some of you will jump out of your civilian vehicle and chase said black male into the homeless shelter, and in front of a room filled with other homeless, black men you will begin to scream at him so hard that your face turns red (because, hey, you have to make the point that you’re the white man in charge).
“How dare you smoke a joint on MY street! This is MY neighborhood! Do you see that building going up over there? That’s a brand new apartment complex that will have children living in it! What if they saw you!? (Apparently he forgot that the developers knew that they were building next to a homeless shelter that catered to drug addicts, prostitutes, and registered sex offenders.) I’m off duty right now, but I will have my buddies come down here and run your name for warrants. I’ll take you in! Tomorrow I’m not going to be your friend.”
This isn’t the first run in with this police officer. He’s chased down another of my guys before, convinced THAT black male was a drug dealer.
How dare you, RPD. How dare you walk into somebody’s home – regardless of whether or not it’s a shelter, it’s the only home my guys have – and treat them with such blatant disrespect. How dare you treat someone less fortunate than you as subhuman. How dare you posture yourself as better than them. How dare you try to use intimidation tactics to “keep them in line.”
Who the actual fuck do you think you are?
What actual authority do you think you have?
And you… the blonde haired, blue eyed Aryan wet dream than came blazing into my shelter like a storm-trooper on steroids…
I see you.
You will hear my voice every time you presume to walk through my doors and harass my men.
And unlike my guys, I won’t back down.
Your uniform doesn’t scare me.
Your badge doesn’t scare me.
Your gun doesn’t scare me.
Your whiteness doesn’t scare me.
I see you. I see you, and I got you.