“SHUT UP AND GET YOUR HANDS UP!” That’s what kept playing in my head when I was locked up in a jail cell. While roaming the food court in the mall, my cousin bumped into an oriental woman’s baby stroller accidentally. After apologizing to the young woman, things took a turn for the worse. The woman did not accept the apology, left for nearly 30 minutes, and returned with a jumbo cup of coffee to pour all on my cousin. A fight broke out between us and the lady. We appeared to be two Black, aggressive teens, yet we were only defending ourselves. In the end, we were arrested and the lady was free to go. The arresting officer hurt me by applying pressure to my wrist and my cousin sustained injuries after being slammed to a table. After witnessing this, I couldn’t contain my anger and in a rage, I flipped the police officer down, causing six more police officers to restrain me. The incident ended with me in cuffs and a charge on my record.
People these days are fearful of the police and react without thinking and that’s where we go wrong. No worries, I know a few essential tools to help you when dealing with police that can potentially save you from being on the wrong side of the barrel.
*KNOW YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS: According to mirandawarning.org, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and WILL be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
*HOLD YOUR EMOTION: Be cooperative with police but remember to remain assertive if your rights to privacy are in danger.
*YOUR PERCEPTION IS YOUR REALITY: It is a harsh reality, but race matters. “Everyone in America whom has had interactions with police force usually, once in there lives, have been a witness to police brutality including police,” says Eboni K. Williams, attorney and television and radio personality.
*DON’T BE TRICKED INTO WAIVING YOUR RIGHTS: Respectfully ask what you are being arrested for. “How are citizens tricked into waiving their rights? People don’t know they are free to leave; until they are arrested they feel that they were compelled to stay there, giving free information, putting themselves in deeper holes,” says Williams.
*YOU’RE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY: According to the Legal Information Institute, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged.
If I could change the hands of time and respond differently, I most certainly would. But I just didn’t know. Knowing these five elements should help you if you encounter an officer in the future.
By Zaria Bradshaw,T.F. North