A White Pastor’s Dealings with Police Officers- Black Lives Matter

The first time I was arrested I was fourteen years old. I went to hang out at the Eastdale Mall in Montgomery, Alabama with two of my friends. We wound up playing around in a department store. At some point we became separated. I spotted a step ladder and thought it’d be a good way to find them. I climbed up and looked for them but they were no where in sight. This turned out to be a much worse idea than you’d expect.

While we were separated my friends decided they’d get a five finger discount on some jewelry. Shortly we were back together. Without warning security grabbed all three of us by the back of the our necks and dragged us into an office. I was terrified! I thought we were in trouble for playing around in the store.

When they pulled jewelry out of my friends pockets all I could think was, ‘My dad’s going to kill me!’ When the police arrived we were all three handcuffed and arrested. I was so upset. I wasn’t on the same floor as they where when they stole the jewelry. I hadn’t done anything.

The store didn’t see it that way. They said I was a lookout because I climbed the ladder. Apparently they thought we were criminal masterminds with a well thought out plan.

A few months later I was hanging out at the mall by myself. If you’re by yourself and you don’t do anything wrong you can’t get in trouble. I had learned my lesson. That’s what I thought anyway.

I was minding my own business when suddenly a police officer grabbed me by the back of the neck. Apparently this is the preferred method for nabbing teenagers. He snatched me around and dragged me to his car. He told me to put my hands on the car. I asked why. He said, “Shut up and do what I say”. I was again terrified.

He proceeded to frisk me. He asked what school I went to and I answered. He said he couldn’t hear me, so I told him again. This time he yelled for me to speak up. I yelled back so he’d hear me. He didn’t like that. He hit me so hard on the back of my neck I felt an electric jolt run down my spine. The pain was intense. I fought off the urge to cry.

He finally told me I matched the description of someone who’d went into a hallway and turned the power off to a store in the mall. He handcuffed me and took me downtown. He didn’t bother to ask a witness or review the malls video. Remember, I was a fourteen year old kid.

I hadn’t committed a crime, but I had long hair and I wore an old t-shirt and jeans. I looked like I might have done it, and that was enough for the officer who assaulted and arrested me.

When I was fifteen years old some of my friends and I were walking to one of their houses. It was after dark. A policeman pulled up and told all of us to put our hands on his car. We were all frisked.

I was placed in handcuffs and told to sit in the back of the car. I asked why I was being arrested and I was told to be quiet. The officer drove me to a nearby house where a bloody 20 year old who was twice my size was sittings on his front porch steps.

The officer asked him if I was the one who beat him up. They bloody guy looked at me and then looked at him like he was dumb and said no it’s not. I saw him a week later. He said besides the long hair I didn’t look anything like the person he described to the police. The guy who beat him up was twenty five years old and twice his size.

Another time I was driving in Graceville, Florida. I was pulled over. I was driving my first car. It was a piece of junk to say the least. It had bolts sticking up from the hood holding it in place. I was sixteen, and it was all I could afford.

The officer approached me and I asked if I had done something wrong. He didn’t answer. He just proceeded to walk around the car and make me turn on and off every light. It was so embarrassing. He pulled me over because my car was old and beat up. I’m pretty sure that’s not probable cause. When he saw all the lights worked he just got in his car and left.

When I was seventeen years old, I got a call that my brother had attempted suicide. This was in Donaldsonville, Georgia. I was on a date with my girlfriend. We rushed to hospital. A doctor came out and explained they were pumping my brothers stomach to remove the pills he’d taken. He also told me my brother would be sent to a psychiatric hospital that night to get the help he needed.

When I went in the room to see my brother there were two officers with him. When he saw me he began to beg me to take him home. I was heartbroken. My girlfriend was standing there so I was trying to hold back the tears. This wasn’t a normal teenage dating experience. It was devastating.

One of the officers looked up at me with a scowl and said I was the sorriest excuse for a brother he’d ever seen. He said if that were his brother he’d take him home. I wanted to take my brother home. I wanted to help him. The officers words made me angry, hurt, and embarrassed. If he hadn’t been a police officer I would’ve hit him. I felt powerless to do anything. My dad had been a police officer. I’d been taught to respect them.

When I was eighteen I was pulled over near Lake Seminole for speeding. The officer was a state trooper. He questioned me for ten minutes about why I was on probation. I had been smoking a cigarette when he pulled me over. I guess I just looked like a thug to him. I wasn’t on probation for anything. He was using his authority to try and intimidate me.

When I was nineteen I was pulled over by a sherif’s officer near Lake Seminole. This time for a blown taillight. The officer immediately asked my friend and I to get out of the vehicle. He then proceeded to search it with no probable cause. He didn’t find anything. There was nothing to find. I asked him if he could give me a warning for the taillight. He laughed and said, “Nope.”

When I was twenty I was with some friends drinking a beer in a parking lot in Tallahassee, Florida. Tallahassee has a city ordinance that states that you can’t have an open container within 500 feet of a closing establishment that serves alcohol. There was a bar closing across the street, so this was the law he used to approach me.

You’d think he walked up to me, informed me of the city ordinance, and ask for identification. That’s not what happened.

Three police cars rushed into the parking lot and every officer got out guns drawn. They shouted for me to put down the beer and place my hands on my head.

One officer grabbed me, shoved me onto his car, and frisked me. At this point all of the other officers were looking confused. I don’t know what he’d told them to get them to respond that way, but they were all surprised by what was happening, or maybe by what was not happening.

Remember, all he knows I’ve done at this point is violate a city ordinance. He gave me a breathalyzer and it didn’t register. I had only taken one sip of the beer. I don’t even like beer. I was just being cool. I was also breaking the law. I take full responsibility for that. After he looked at my ID he placed under arrest for underage consumption of alcohol.

All of the other officers literally pleaded with him to give me a warning and let me go home. He refused and sent me to jail for the night. The officers at the jail mocked the female officer who brought me there. She assured them it wasn’t her decision. Why did he respond that way? Maybe he was having a bad day?

When I was 22 years old someone stole my debit card and spent all my money. This happened in Dothan, Alabama. I called the police department and asked what I should do about making a report. They said they’d send an officer to my house.

When he arrived he got out of his car with his hand on his gun. Not a normal hand relaxing on his gun an I’m about to shoot somebody hand on his gun. With his lip curled up he angrily asked if I was the one who called the police. I reluctantly said yes. He sarcastically asked why. I told him the situation.

He proceeded to tell me it was impossible for someone to use my debit card unless I’d given them my PIN number. The whole time he took the report he made remarks insinuating I was lying. I felt like I was on trail for being robbed.

When I was 35 years old I was pulled over again for speeding. This time it was in Eufaula, Alabama by a State Trooper.
When I saw the officers lights I pulled into a parking lot, rolled down my window, turned off the vehicle, placed my hands on the steering wheel and waited for the officer to approach.

When he got to the window he said he should arrest me for felony evading of an officer. I was dumbfounded. I asked why? He told me I had no right to be on the road I was on. He said I was trying to run from him. Never mind the fact that my mother in law lives on that road. I was on the way to to pick up my kids from her when he stopped me.

He then refused to accept my proof of insurance. He wrote me a ticket for not having proof of insurance and speeding. I went to court to fight these charges and he was arrogant enough to repeat that I had no right to be on that road. The judge informed him that I was a citizen of the United States and I could be on any public road I pleased. I was found not guilty on all charges.

This one is about my mother. It took me longer to get over this than any of the others. When I was fifteen years old one of my sisters friends accused one of my brothers friends of raping her while they were both at our house.

Later that week my mother was home alone when the police kicked in the door. Remember, the accused didn’t even live at my house. My mom was using the restroom at the time. She screamed in fear at the sound of the door being kicked in and all the people running into the house. They then kicked in the restroom door and dragged her off the toilet. They refused to allow her to pull up her pants before they threw her on the floor. Remember again, they were looking for a teenage boy that didn’t live there. This story still upsets me.

The girl later admitted she had willingly slept with the accused. She said her mom knew she had slept with someone. She was afraid she’d get in trouble, so she said he had raped her.

If my stories seem petty to you go back and read them as if they were in the news today. This time imagine that the “criminal” was a black person. Imagine that was a black mother in her home terrified and humiliated. Would you be tempted to scream racism?

I’m not comparing my stories to the deaths that have taken place. I’m pointing out that if we’re not careful we’ll lump every situation into the same group. If we make that mistake how will we fix the real issues? How will we deal with the real problems.

Despite the liberal lie that all whites are racist, we’re not. Despite the conservative lie that all BLM supporters are thugs and trouble makers they’re not. Despite some who call themselves BLM claiming all police are bad they’re not.

Shouldn’t we desire that all people will be treated equally? That everyone will have a voice and be heard? Can’t equality be achieved more effectively by unity than by division?

Black lives matter. Can any decent person dispute the validity of that statement? I’m not talking about the anarchist actions of some individuals. I’m taking about the truth in the statement Black Lives Matter. Shouldn’t the same principles apply to blue lives matter, and all lives matter?

Many who support BLM don’t want the importance of equality to get lost in the mix. They want to take this opportunity to draw attention to real issues that many Americans face daily. Shouldn’t we as Americans stand with those who support BLM as a tool to bring about equality? Wouldn’t the greater good of our nation be undergirded if we applauded every effort to bring about liberty and justice for all. Shouldn’t we all believe in that great pledge?

There’s one Creator. One mankind. I support all that’s good about BLM. For those of us who believe we’re “One Nation Under God” can we do any less? Let’s stop the hate. Let’s look beyond our simplistic rhetoric. Let’s join those with good intentions and drown out hate no matter on which side it rears its ugly head.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(Bellamy, Francis. “The Pledge of Allegiance”. Art Evans Productions, 1971.)

About robertkennedymitchell

Christian. Husband. Dad. Pastor.
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