Tomorrow morning, I have to go to court.
Next Friday morning, I also have to go to court.
I hate court.
Why do I have to go to court? The simple answer is I was sent there by cops. The more complicated answer is that I have broken the law. I think those laws are stupid, but I’m obviously biased.
What I do know is that cops seem to hate me as much as I hate court. I’ve been caught doing pretty much anything and everything that a middle class kid can get caught doing (without suffering serious repercussions). I seem to be a magnet for police. And I hate it.
To be honest I pretty much hate cops.
Not cool. It’s one thing to casually smirk and say, “I hate cops” when someone is telling you a story about some shitty drunken escapade. It’s an entirely different thing to actually write it down and elaborate on it. It’s petulant, unappreciative, irresponsible and ignorant.
But, in terms of the cops I personally know, it’s completely true.
I pretty much hate cops (qualifier intentional) because every shred of empirical evidence gathered in my life tells me to. Every time I’ve ever had any kind of engaged interaction with a police officer it’s been negative, and often unnecessarily so.
There was that one time late night in high school when I was walking home and digging around for my headphones, only to hear screeches and look up to see three cops jumping out of a van with their guns pointing at my face. I may have been close enough to the “Hispanic male in a cap” they were looking for to warrant a stop-n-frisk, and that headphone-seeking hand could have been holding a weapon I guess, but did I deserve the verbally abusive attitude and unwanted escort following me home once my lack of criminality was cleared up?
There was that other time in high school I was sitting in the park deconstructing a blunt when I spotted an undercover, tossed out my tobacco and attempted to walk away. Despite the fact that the cops had zero authority to detain me, search me, or even take any legal step towards procuring the $10 bag of weed I had in my backpack, they still shoved me around and smacked me on the head a few times to make sure I knew whose park it was.
Then there was the time last fall when a cop nearly knocked me off my bike because I was riding the wrong way up an empty Wythe Avenue, and then wrote me a vehicular moving violation (literally writing the word “bike” in the license plate number section of the ticket). Which is the reason why I have to go to court next week and try to avoid having my driver’s license taken away.
There was also the time when a hidden transit cop watched me swipe my Metrocard at a broken turnstile, saw it eat my fair, then pulled me off the train by my collar after I decided to hop. I tried to explain that the turnstile was clearly broken, and we stood there and watched it eat someone else’s fare, but that visceral rationality didn’t save me from his disdain or his fine.
And then there are the myriad times I’ve just felt hostility radiating out of the rolled down window of a stalking squad car.
I’ve literally never had a positive interaction with a cop. I’ve never had an interaction that wasn’t humiliating, infuriating, or terrifying.
Have I had bad experiences with police, or have I had the best experiences possible?
I’ve never actually needed them. I’m so blessed that I’ve never even had to call 911. Most of the people I know haven’t either; they’ve never needed saving, so they’ve never needed cops. And all of the people I know who are into recreational illegalities can probably rattle off a series minor scrapes that were impactful enough to bring them to that wispy (and somewhat privileged?) conclusion: I hate cops.
We say it so casually — I say it so casually — without actually thinking about what we mean by the words ‘hate’ and ‘cops.’
Should I be allowed to “hate cops” (lost the qualifier, gained quotations) because, to this point in my life, I’ve played the part of their enemy? Or should I hate the myriad laws I’ve broken that I find completely unfair? (I especially do not believe in criminalizing marijuana or the concept of interstate speed limits, if you were wondering.) Or am I fucking spoiled and deluded by my lack of experience with violent catastrophe? Should I love cops because they’ll help me if I need it? Or can I hate cops because they treat me like crap?
I can’t quite figure out what defies or defines logic here.
But what I do know — making a guy go to court on a weekday morning is grounds at least for a “fuck you” to the particular cop who sent me there.
YOU SAW THE TURNSTILE EAT THAT WOMAN’S FARE.