Silence Is Violence

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NOPD complaint

Date: Fri, Apr. 18, 2008

April 14, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

At approximately 6:40 p.m. on Monday April 14th, 2008 I was stopped by police at the corner of Sycamore and Leonidas. The officer asked me to get out of my car, put my hands on the hood, and he proceeded to cuff me. He said that he would explain after I was cuffed. 2 police cars arrived and he told me to sit in the back of the police car while they searched my car. I was told that I fit the description of the person they were looking for. I protested being treated this way and hesitated to sit in the back of the car. The officer cursed and said that I was “acting up” and that this is why I was being put into the back of the car. I asked why I must receive this kind of treatment in my own neighborhood and the officer said, “You should move!” I waited in the back of this car for 10 or more minutes while they rifled through my personal belongings and did a fruitless check of my record.

I am tired. Sick and tired of being harassed for driving while black and driving in my own neighborhood. This is the third time this has happened to me in this neighborhood and the fourth time in this city since the storm.

I am a native New Orleanian. I am from the 17th ward. My family has lived in this area for 3 generations. I am an educator and artist who believes in this city and its young people. I work for the betterment of society and our future. I respect and appreciate the police’s right to do their job but I am done being unnecessarily harassed and abused. Every time this happens I will report it. What must I do to live unfettered…move?

Several children gathered to witness the event. “He came to my school!”, one of the children shouted. He remembered me from a storytelling event where I espoused the importance of believing in your dreams. They stayed around to see me get into the car. They didn’t stay around for long after, perhaps because they assumed that I was going to jail.

I don’t feel protected. I feel harassed. There has got to be a better way to do what ever it is they are trying to do. There has got to be a better way.

Sincerely,