Imagine for a moment that my son, Sandor, who is about to turn 14, his adorable girlfriend and his best friend, Sam are walking down Central Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s Saturday and they are going to see a 2 pm movie. They laugh and push each other as they walk toward the movie theater.
A police officer pulls up next to them and gets out of the car.
“Hold up a second. I need to talk to you guys.”
Sandor looks at his phone, he doesn’t want to miss the movie. His girlfriend suddenly looks pale nervous. She squeezes his hand. He squeezes back.
“I need to see some ID.”
They all shake their heads. “We’re only 14, we don’t have any ID. We’re just going to a movie.”
The officer smiles, but it’s not friendly.”Well, I guess you’re gonna be a little late late. We got a call about some kids spay painting a building just a few blocks from here. One of them is a blond. Where are you guys coming from?”
“Our house, right up the street.”
The questions go on and on an on.
“What’s the address?”
“Where are you going?”
“Who are your parents? Do they know where you are?”
“Where were you an hour ago?”
“Is that paint on your jeans?”
“Why are you in such a hurry?”
Sandor isn’t as nervous now, but he’s starting to get angry. “It wasn’t us, we’re going to the movie. Seriously. You can’t do this. We weren’t doing anything wrong.” He’s wondering, why is this cop hassling them?
“Yes sir,” the Officer says. ” I can do this. I need both you to put your hands on the back of my car.”
“Why?” Sandor asks and his girl friend starts to cry a little.
“Just do what your told, kid,” the cop says and pushes both boys against his car. He kicks their legs apart, really wide.
The girl friend pulls out her phone and starts to call her dad but the police officer says, “Please put you phone away.” The girl does what she’s told.
The officer runs his hand up and down their legs, inside and out, around the waist band of their jeans. He reaches inside Sam’s boots, then checks the front pockets of their jeans and the pockets of their hoodies.
A car load of teenagers honk and holler as they pass by.
Then the officer gets a call on his radio. He says, “Don’t move” to the boys. Sandor is so mad and humiliated, he wills himself not to cry in frustration. He wants to hug his girlfriend and tell her it’ll be ok.
He can read the words on the side of the police car “Protect and Serve.”He looks at Sam, he wants him to see those words too. But Sam is gone. His face is ashen blank, absolutely empty. His eyes look as though he’s shut down. Sandor knows that look. It’s how Sam looks when he’s beyond angry, when he’s thinking about revenge and getting even. It’s his game face. Sam never lets anyone see his real emotions. But he never forgets.
The officer returns, “Alright guys, your good to go. They picked up the kids working on another building. Stay out of trouble.” And then he’s back in his squad car and gone.
Sam and Sandor don’t know what to say. But now, at the age of 14, they both hate and fear cops. The officer humiliated, embarrassed and violated them. He made them feel weak and powerless in front of the entire town, in front of the girl, and for no reason. This feeling will never leave the boys.
That’s what the “Stop and Frisk” policy does to young men. I understand it might lead to a lot of arrests. But “Stop and Frisk” will to turn an entire generation of African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics and whites kids against law enforcement. The officers will never be trusted or respected. Just feared and hated. And that’s not what cops want.
“Stop and Frisk” is a lazy and easy way to make arrests. But it will destroy any hope of having minority communities work with the police.
Our Law Enforcement Officers deserve better and our young people will demand better, or seek their revenge for being humiliated.
- This story is one hundred percent a work of fiction.