A story just burped up on CNN (here) that is interesting for several reasons. It describes a “routine” traffic stop by Florida cops in which the tables are very suddenly turned on the cops performing the stop.
A black woman was driving her car … well, you can guess what comes next. For no legitimate reason whatsoever, an unmarked cop car (a cop truck, actually; be aware – the cops in this instance were in a black F-150 pick-up) lights her up and pulls her over.
Here’s where it gets . . . interesting.
The cop approaches the car and the woman behind the wheel hands him her ID. It becomes very quickly apparent to the cop that he has pulled over the wrong black woman. Aramis Ayala. She is the Florida state attorney, the number one law enforcement official in the state. The demeanor of the cops immediately becomes supine and deferential.
They backpedal and step n’ fetchit back to their unmarked porkmobile, no doubt sweating profusely and praying uxoriously to the Big Pig in the sky that Ayala will not lower the boom.
This story – and the video – give further evidence, if any were needed, of the tiered, arbitrary and capricious nature of law enforcement in the United States. This is not an isolated instance nor confined to Florida, as anyone who has been paying attention – and been out of their house recently – is well-aware.
First, the hassling of blacks and women – but not just them. Other preferred targets of law enforcement include poor whites and the poor generally, who are readily identified (presumably) by their less-than-Lexus mode of transport.
I can speak to this voluminously – and pretty uniquely – as a car journalist (who happens to be a white guy) who drives a wide variety of vehicles every week. One day, it might be a $130,000 brand-new BMW – on loan from BMW for me to test drive and write about. The next day, it might be my blotchy old truck that leans a little to one side because the leaf spring perch on that side is “settling,” on account of rust.
It is remarkable, the different treatment – even down to looks – I get, depending on which of the two I happen to be driving. The odds of being pulled over for literally no reason at all – a fishing expedition predicated on the loosest of pretexts, such as a license plate frame being akimbo or as in Ayala’s case, window tint – are probably 100 percent greater in the truck than in the new BMW.
But then – just like Ayala – they discover that I am someone.
Not a state attorney, but a journalist. The same sudden change in attitude occurs. It is based on fear – now reversed – that I might be in a position to defend myself. Not physically, of course. But in a way the state’s enforcers fear most – bad publicity. I might write a story. There could be repercussions.
I am happy to benefit from this, but it also bothers me because I am well aware that most people are not state attorneys or journalists and so powerless before the buzz cut and the BDU-clad.
Imagine Ayala as a non-state attorney. As a mere black lady on her way to wherever. Is there a soul reading this who doubts that – at the very least – she would have been issued a piece of payin’ paper for some trumped-up offense? “Excessive tint” on her windows, say?
She would have been lucky to “get off” with just the piece of payin’ paper.
Absent her credentials – and the clear threat that represented, not to the “safety” of these cops but to something vastly more important to them, i.e., their continued employment – there is a very good chance one of them would have “smelled marijuana” and you know what comes next.
Absent my credentials – and the possibility I might raise a public fuss – there is no doubt in my mind that several random stops I’ve been an unwilling party to would have ended differently as well.
This is what happens when literally everyone is subject to being pulled over and harassed at any moment, on the flimsiest of pretexts and sometimes not even that.
When “illegal” encompasses everything.
While things have never been perfect and never will be perfect, it was different once upon a time. The legal reasons for hassling people were much fewer – and the legal bar of suspicion was much higher.
This fact of not-so-ancient history is perfectly conveyed by a line once commonly spoken by characters in movies and TV: You’ve got nothing on me, copper! Cue frustrated cop reluctantly letting the fish swim away.
One never hears that line spoken in movies today or even recently.
And the fish never swim away, unless they happen to have credentials.
If you like what you’ve found here, please consider supporting EPautos.
We depend on you to keep the wheels turning!
Our donate button is here.
If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:
721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079