A few months ago, I was pulled over by Montclair’s finest. At the time, I thought the unmarked car with its flashing lights was trying to get by me, in pursuit of a real criminal.
So I, like the other cars behind me, moved to the right to allow him to pass.
Unfortunately, he didn’t continue on his way, but stopped directly behind me. Great.
“License, registration and insurance.” I comply.
He walks away and sits in his car for ten minutes. Ten minutes? Really dude?
Returns with my credentials and some parting gifts in hand.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” Driving while Black?
“You were talking on your cell phone.” Actually, I was listening to a message.
“You’ve got to be to court on the 19th.” I’ve ‘got to be to court’ huh?
“Please drive carefully sir.” But occifer if I did, you couldn’t continue to profile me and issue frivolous tickets.
Anyway, I recount that story because yesterday my neighbor and I talked about how he was stopped the day before, also by Montclair’s finest, allegedly for talking on the phone.
In addition, he was alleged to have made a wide left turn, and followed too closely behind a fire truck.
I thought we were about to commiserate about how the MPD fills the municipality’s coffers by issuing frivolous tickets to it’s residents, instead of dealing with the real crime in this high priced town.
Instead, he told me how he proceeded to ARGUE with the officer challenging the basis for being pulled over.
And don’t you know that at the end of this tirade, the officer let him go, with no ticket.
No ticket? WTF?!
Now you must know, I am Black, my neighbor is white.
I’d seen crazy white folks do this on COPS, but I didn’t think that regular white folks did too!
The fact of the matter is that there is a blatant double standard that exists when it comes to the way officers treat Black and White citizens in Montclair (and the rest of the world).
I told him if I had engaged in the same behavior, and tried to argue that I wasn’t talking at the time, or that I had used my phone only while stopped at the light or offered any kind of pushback, I probably would have been pulled out of my Jeep, tazed, handcuffed and promptly placed under arrest. He laughed. I didn’t.
He acknowledge, however, that, unfortunately, we do not live in a color-blind society, and behavior that members of the ‘majority’ engage in, would result in dramatically different treatment for members of the ‘minority’ engaging in similar behavior.
I didn’t feel like getting into a deep discussion about racial inequity (I left my soap box upstairs), but I let him know that he couldn’t fathom what it was like being Black, and he should count himself fortunate he wasn’t Black when he mouthed off to the officer because it could have ended up waaaayyyy different than it did.
He agreed, and we parted, soberly, each a little more enlightened by how the other half lives.