In Transit

On my way to the Oakland Airport this morning (I’m going to Connecticut), we were passed by — and then stopped entirely for — the longest funeral procession I’ve ever seen.  Mostly, the procession was made up of police cars.  But there were plenty of motorcycle cops, and firefighters and ambulance drivers, and park rangers, and anyone else who does a job where they protect people from harm.  All of them were on their way to the Oakland Coliseum, which is one exit before the airport.  Today’s the day for the funeral of the four police officers who were killed last week after a routine traffic stop went wrong.  

Being a cop is a dangerous job.   Mostly, I don’t think about that.  My general experience with the police as a citizen is to  feel mad about the ticket I just got for turning left when I wasn’t supposed to, or to feel grateful that someone’s directing traffic.  

But there are ways in which the police let us down and these disappointments are what you often see when you encounter the police in the media — police officers who extract confessions through coercion, hide evidence or manufacture it, use physical violence out of frustration or take bribes.  

This morning, I just thought about how brave you have to be to pull somebody over, and how much more courage it probably will take in the weeks to come to do that.  And I also hoped that the men and women going to that funeral will remember that young black men aren’t the enemy and that even when you’re afraid, you still have to do the right thing by everyone in the community you serve.  And I hoped that the young black men in the community will remember that the police aren’t their enemy and that many of them, particularly in Oakland, are not so different from they.  This is what courage looks like today:  seeing each other more clearly, and realizing that we are more alike than we are different.

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13 thoughts on “In Transit

  1. “This is what courage looks like today: seeing each other more clearly, and realizing that we are more alike than we are different.”

    Well said. Have a nice time in CT.

  2. Jade, It’s hard to see so many people mourning. It’s just a tough day for the Oakland Police Department.

    Hi Stefanie! Thanks. I’m in Chicago, waiting for my connecting flight, a flight that appears to have no intention of ever coming. But it’s totally fine, because I just noticed that my google feed reader has 231 blog posts on it! How is that even possible? Are people not eating? Breathing? Yikes.

  3. Nicely put, Bloglily, that there are good sides and bad to police officers. My thoughts always end up being with the families of those killed. Hope you have a good trip east, and I have no idea if people are reading or just blogging these days, I can barely keep up with either!

  4. Okay, I am sure I should be paying much more attention to this post than just that parenthetical “I’m going to CT.” I know you have said something else truly brilliant here, but all I can think is, “She’s going to CT. And I’m no longer there! WAH! WAH!”

  5. Nicely put, Lily. I’ve had my own problems with local police (no worries–as a victim not a criminal!), but it’s a good reminder that they do indeed put their lives on the line for us. And it’s important after such a tragic event to keep things in perspective as you say!

    Have a nice time in CT!

  6. Well said. Having had cause to call the police on a couple of occasions, I try not to make snap judgements about the ongoing deluge of negative press the London Met get. The problems the police have really are institutional ones – not individual, even though it’s through the interactions of individuals that the problems get expressed.

  7. Bravo to that. It’s a brutal job, being a cop, so it’s not surprising it attracts people with dangerous sides, or that it can alter people in odd ways. But when it comes down to it there’s tremendous courage in what they do, every day, and it’s good of you to honour that.

  8. Dear All, I’m often struck by how decent and smart all of you are, and today, particularly so. For some reason I haven’t been able to figure out how to get my computer to speak to the wireless network where I’m staying, so I’ve got to keep this short, but I just wanted to thank all of you for being such terrific readers. xo, L

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