After having been videotaped kicking and stomping a prone man offering no resistance—whose only crime was claiming to be from Mexico—Seattle’s black-shirted “Anti-Crime Team” seems to have learned little from the episode. Rather than learn to control their racial profiling impulses, they merely retrench and nurse grievances, ready to erupt at any time. It’s the same story; they have this need to “prove” that their victims (even the completely innocent ones) really are the “bad” guys. So what do they do? They hide in the bushes, scope out the scene, select a suitable target, and “investigate.”
Recently I spent a morning doing some work in the UW library, after which I bought a cup of coffee and a magazine at a newsstand and proceeded to walk to a bus stop. While I was walking down University Way, a couple of black-shirts appeared out of nowhere, probably hiding out somewhere until they spotted a suitable “suspect”—like a “Mexican.” They were riding their bicycles very slowly and gave me “the eye” with “knowing” smirks. I am quite familiar with the “look.” Police always claim to be ‘innocent,” but they are not; they attempt to initiate confrontations with people who have otherwise done nothing wrong because they operate stereotypical assumptions rather than facts. Initiating confrontations is the usual method police use when they want to harass someone who isn’t driving a car, when they can usually concoct some rationale like “You didn’t turn on your turn signal quick enough.” Police are not permitted to demand ID for no reason, and they need to be more “creative” with someone is just walking down a sidewalk. They can’t help themselves; they congenitally make too many assumptions based on their prejudices and ignorance. Their “training” clearly involves racial profiling, because they seem incapable of distinguishing the few criminals from the law-abiding if they are the wrong color or “ethnicity.” Apparently walking down the sidewalk with a laptop case slung around the shoulder, with a bag with a Harper’s Magazine in one hand and a coffee cup is obviously the latest sneaky prop for the Mexican drug running terrorist.
After the black-shirts drove by me, I caught-up to them at the next street corner. The black-shirt in front took to staring at me again with that “knowing” smug look. I responded by mentioning that I had once heard a cop joke to some white gun-nut that they only picked on short people because it was “safer” (I was sitting on a bus behind a white guy and two Seattle police officers who were discussing an incident in the Metro bus tunnel whereas a teenage girl assaulted another, right in front of security guards. The man seemed concerned about his safety, but the cops assured him that he was an unlikely target because his burly size. The officers also joked how they themselves preferred to target short people, because it was “safer.” The man discussed their weaponry, impressed by the lethality of the Glock 40, and waxed gleeful on other weaponry like 9 mm pistols. I then blurted out that this is the guy people should be afraid of, a view which garnered a few murmurs of approval, which succeeded in ending the conversation between cops and paranoid gun nut). The black-shirt said nothing, but continued to stare at me, and I took to staring back at him until he finally decided to look away. I didn’t say anything else, because I didn’t want to be arrested on a “contempt of cop” charge, which the Seattle Post-Intelligencer once reported was an unusually frequent device that police use when they really want to detain someone whose only crime is that he is a “suspicious” character, a judgment based solely on an officer’s prejudices.
Seattle’s black-shirts were also implicated in the near-fatal beating of a homeless man in 2003, and they have become notorious as the frequent subject of many police abuse complaints; who knows what other crimes they have committed when no one was looking. Crime is a fact of life, but why does ACT always seem to spend most of its time harassing innocent people?