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All I’m Saying…

by on Apr.29, 2010, under The Musings, The Other Stuff

MD to GA 30: Welcome to Georgia
Image by JDinBawlmer via Flickr

Normally I would not say anything relating to politics, religion etc. on this site. I believe there are better forums for such rants and raves.

But this time….

Okay, it has been about a week since the foolishness in Arizona has kicked off. Pundits of both sides of the issue have had their chance to sound off on the issue on a multitude of television stations, radio stations and of course web sites and blogs.

One thing I have not seen in the coverage of all of this madness, as reporters have scrambled to collect reactions and responses, is that there have been little comment from those who might have a little experience on the receiving end of such policies.

My two cents goes like this…

In 1999 I purchased a house in Florida while still living in New York City. During the Thanksgiving weekend of that year, I drove down from New York alone to Florida to check on the house.

During this time people were being stopped along Interstate-95 by state troopers and local police – ostensibly to try to stem the flow of drugs coming north out of the southern states.

The trip south was uneventful until I entered the state of Georgia. By time I’d made it as far as the city limits of Waycross it was dark – about 10pm – and by then the temperature had dropped into the 40s.

I was traveling among a group of other cars and SUVs. I was driving in the right hand lane behind an RV. Behind me was a U-Haul moving van. A line of cars came up behind us traveling in the left lane looking like they were moving well over the speed limit. The group I was with was cruising along at about 60MPH.

Just as the new group of cars passed me I noted a black BMW with TV monitors in the headrest. AND on the median was a white car with its headlights pointed across our lanes.

As the cars passed this car on the median, its headlights lit up the insides of the cars as we passed it. I knew it was some kind of law enforcement and immediately rechecked my speed even though I knew that the cars in my lane were not speeding and was certain that if it was “ticket time”, one of the cars passing in the left lane were prime candidates for a speeding ticket.

But I wasn’t worried.

About two minutes later the same white car that was on the median is behind me with its lights flashing so I pulled over onto the shoulder of the exit ramp (at the northern side of Waycross).Wondering “What does this guy¬† want with me?”. Immediately memories of Amadou Diallo and others flashed through my mind.

The officer get out of his car with every light on the planet trained on my car, walked up to my car with his hand on his gun and asked for license and registration saying that I was speeding.

Naturally (trying to sound as calm as possible) I asked if he wasn’t mistaken because there was no way he could have clocked my car with his RADAR in the method he claimed because both I and the black BMW passed by him at exactly the same moment. (He claimed his RADAR tagged me). I’d never heard of a radar that could read the speed of a car through another larger vehicle directly in front of it.

The next thing out of his mouth was a request to search my car. When I asked why, he stated “because of the drug traffiking going on along the interstate heading north through Georgia”. I reminded him I was heading south and that it would seem that he would’ve been better served scanning cars on the northbound side of the highway. I tried real hard not to sound sarcastic.

He just shrugged and said to sit tight he was calling a drug dog in. So next I asked what would the dog do if he didn’t find anything. He replied “Nothing, probably keep circling the car”.Then he asked me to get out of the car. So I did. I also kept my eyes on him noting every move he made.

20 minutes later a K-9 unit arrives, I’m shivering from the cold (I had no jacket on and the wind from the passing trucks made it feel like 40 below zero. The trooper actually asked why I was shaking. Duhh.

Anyway, the dog circled the car 4 times.

On the last pass, he pee’d on my tire!

Naturally nothing was found because I wasn’t carrying anything. But as a result of the stop I had a brand new hole in my door panel and my clothes and stuff was tossed all over the inside of the car.

Now the officers are apologizing for stopping me and telling me I am free to go. I’m like “What about the speeding ticket?” I was told to forget it.

It was obvious that I spent and hour and a half on the side of the road for nothing more than an ad hoc drug search.

I left them and drove down the ramp and continued up the entrance ramp back onto the highway. Cussin’ the entire way and thinking how I’d not been to Waycross since I was a kid (I have family in that town). As I was leaving the Waycross city limits…

One of Waycross’ “finest” sitting on the median, pulls out and pulls me over stating

“We had a report of a red uhh..(he hesitates to see what kind of car I was driving) Dodge with two occupants needed to be pulled over. We need to search the car.” I was looking at him like he fell off Mars. There was no “we” he was alone!

Now I’m really pissed. I said

“Bullshit. I was just stopped by state and let go. You didn’t even know what kind of car this was nor did you adequately explain why I was being stopped. You simply pulled me over because you feel you can.”

He looked at me hard for a second as I started him directly in the eyes. Then says “You can go, you are not the right one.”

As I see the reactions about what’s happening in Arizona, noting the Governor of the state herself admitted she doesn’t know what an illegal alien looks like, this past event came rushing back at me.As did memories about the 4 kids (they were students behaving properly by the way) who had a really bad scene on the New Jersey Turnpike involving troopers not long before this happened to me.

I can guarantee those troopers and that city cop couldn’t describe a drug dealer and could only do so relying on their perceived profile bolstered by the stereotype of what a drug dealer would look like (black guy, nice looking car, dreadlocks).

Yeah he let me go. And I didn’t stop until I was well into Florida realizing it could happen there as well.

On the return trip north, I passed through Georgia during daylight. Then …

As I passed through Maryland I saw what looked like a pair of grandparents who were black with two kids on the side of the road standing in a line next to their car as troopers searched their 1970-something bllue Oldsmobile Delta 98.

They too were stopped along the southbound side of Interstate-95. Now of course I have no idea why they’d been stopped or why they were being searched but I have my suspicions.

So I write this to say this…

Those of you who are undecided about this situation in Arizona would do good to take into account what I am telling you. Laws like this one the braintrust over in the “Land of McCain” came up with does not bode well.

It is the grease on the slippery slope. We’d already stepped over the edge when there was little popular outcry over the stopping of people traveling along the interstates of this country for ambiguous reasons while minding their business.

I hope such a thing never happens to you.

If it does, then you would understand why I am absolutely opposed to such laws as the one signed by Arizona’s Governor last week.

If it has never happened, now you have yet one more chance to oppose such nonsense.

Just think about it.

Okay … now back to the music.

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