My white neighbor thought I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up.

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My white neighbor thought I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up.

#1

Post by Saria Dragon of the Rain Wilds » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:04 pm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/postever ... showed-up/
The place I call home no longer feels safe.
On Sept. 6, I locked myself out of my apartment in Santa Monica, Calif. I was in a rush to get to my weekly soccer game, so I decided to go enjoy the game and deal with the lock afterward.

A few hours and a visit from a locksmith later, I was inside my apartment and slipping off my shoes when I heard a man’s voice and what sounded like a small dog whimpering outside, near my front window. I imagined a loiterer and opened the door to move him along. I was surprised to see a large dog halfway up the staircase to my door. I stepped back inside, closed the door and locked it.

I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds, I saw a gun. A man stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing it at me. I stepped back and heard: “Come outside with your hands up.” I thought: This man has a gun and will kill me if I don’t come outside. At the same time, I thought: I’ve heard this line from policemen in movies. Although he didn’t identify himself, perhaps he’s an officer.

I left my apartment in my socks, shorts and a light jacket, my hands in the air. “What’s going on?” I asked again. Two police officers had guns trained on me. They shouted: “Who’s in there with you? How many of you are there?”

I said it was only me and, hands still raised, slowly descended the stairs, focused on one officer’s eyes and on his pistol. I had never looked down the barrel of a gun or at the face of a man with a loaded weapon pointed at me. In his eyes, I saw fear and anger. I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me — a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman — frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening, trying to de-escalate. I again asked what was going on. I confirmed there were no pets or people inside.

I told the officers I didn’t want them in my apartment. I said they had no right to be there. They entered anyway. One pulled me, hands behind my back, out to the street. The neighbors were watching. Only then did I notice the ocean of officers. I counted 16. They still hadn’t told me why they’d come.

Later, I learned that the Santa Monica Police Department had dispatched 19 officers after one of my neighbors reported a burglary at my apartment. It didn’t matter that I told the cops I’d lived there for seven months, told them about the locksmith, offered to show a receipt for his services and my ID. It didn’t matter that I went to Duke, that I have an MBA from Dartmouth, that I’m a vice president of strategy at a multinational corporation. It didn’t matter that I’ve never had so much as a speeding ticket. It didn’t matter that I calmly, continually asked them what was happening. It also didn’t matter that I didn’t match the description of the person they were looking for — my neighbor described me as Hispanic when he called 911. What mattered was that I was a woman of color trying to get into her apartment — in an almost entirely white apartment complex in a mostly white city — and a white man who lived in another building called the cops because he’d never seen me before.

After the officers and dog exited my “cleared” apartment, I was allowed back inside to speak with some of them. They asked me why I hadn’t come outside shouting, “I live here.” I told them it didn’t make sense to walk out of my own apartment proclaiming my residence when I didn’t even know what was going on. I also reminded them that they had guns pointed at me. Shouting at anyone with a gun doesn’t seem like a wise decision.

I had so many questions. Why hadn’t they announced themselves? Why had they pointed guns at me? Why had they refused to answer when I asked repeatedly what was going on? Was it protocol to send more than a dozen cops to a suspected burglary? Why hadn’t anyone asked for my ID or accepted it, especially after I’d offered it? If I hadn’t heard the dog, would I have opened the door to a gun in my face? “Maybe,” they answered.

I demanded all of their names and was given few. Some officers simply ignored me when I asked, boldly turning and walking away. Afterward, I saw them talking to neighbors, but they ignored me when I approached them again. A sergeant assured me that he’d personally provide me with all names and badge numbers.

I introduced myself to the reporting neighbor and asked if he was aware of the gravity of his actions — the ocean of armed officers, my life in danger. He stuttered about never having seen me, before snippily asking if I knew mynext-door neighbor. After confirming that I did and questioning him further, he angrily responded, “I’m an attorney, so you can go f— yourself,” and walked away.

I spoke with two of the officers a little while longer, trying to wrap my mind around the magnitude and nature of their response. They wondered: Wouldn’t I want the same response if I’d been the one who called the cops? “Absolutely not,” I told them. I recounted my terror and told them how I imagined it all ending, particularly in light of the recent interactions between police and people of color. One officer admitted that it was complicated but added that people sometimes kill cops for no reason. I was momentarily speechless at this strange justification.

I got no clear answers from the police that night and am still struggling to get them, despite multiple visits, calls and e-mails to the Santa Monica Police Department requesting the names of the officers, their badge numbers, the audio from my neighbor’s call to 911 and the police report. The sergeant didn’t e-mail me the officers’ names as he promised. I was told that the audio of the call requires a subpoena and that the small army of responders, guns drawn, hadn’t merited an official report. I eventually received a list from the SMPD of 17 officers who came to my apartment that night, but the list does not include the names of two officers who handed me their business cards on the scene. I’ve filed an official complaint with internal affairs.

To many, the militarization of the police is primarily abstract or painted as occasional. That thinking allows each high-profile incident of aggressive police interaction with people of color — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray — to be written off as an outlier.

What happened to them did not happen to me, but it easily could have. The SMPD sent 19 armed police officers who refused to answer my questions while violating my rights, privacy and sense of well-being. A wrong move, and I could have been shot. My complaint is not the first against the department this year. This spring, the local branch of the NAACP and other concerned residents met with SMPD to discuss several incidents of aggressive policing against people of color. The NAACP asked SMPD for demographic information on all traffic, public transportation and pedestrian stops; so far, the department has promised to release a report of detailed arrest data next year.

The trauma of that night lingers. I can’t un-see the guns, the dog, the officers forcing their way into my apartment, the small army waiting for me outside. Almost daily, I deal with sleeplessness, confusion, anger and fear. I’m frightened when I see large dogs now. I have nightmares of being beaten by white men as they call me the n-word. Every week, I see the man who called 911. He averts his eyes and ignores me.

I’m heartbroken that his careless assessment of me, based on skin color, could endanger my life. I’m heartbroken by the sense of terror I got from people whose job is supposedly to protect me. I’m heartbroken by a system that evades accountability and justifies dangerous behavior. I’m heartbroken that the place I called home no longer feels safe. I’m heartbroken that no matter how many times a story like this is told, it will happen again.

Not long ago, I was walking with a friend to a crowded restaurant when I spotted two cops in line and froze. I tried to figure out how to get around them without having to walk past them. I no longer wanted to eat there, but I didn’t want to ruin my friend’s evening. As we stood in line, 10 or so people back, my eyes stayed on them. I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid generalizations. I imagined that perhaps these two cops were good people, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the Santa Monica police had done to me. I found a lump in my throat as I tried to separate them from the system that had terrified me. I realized that if I needed help, I didn’t think I could ask them for it.

Editor’s note: The Santa Monica Police Department told The Washington Post that 16 officers were on the scene but later provided a list of 17 names. That list does not match the list of 17 names that was eventually provided to the writer; the total number of names provided by the SMPD is 19. The department also said that it was protocol for this type of call to warrant “a very substantial police response,” and that any failure of officers to provide their names and badge numbers “would be inconsistent with the Department’s protocols and expectations.” There is an open internal affairs inquiry into the writer’s allegations of racially motivated misconduct.
Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.

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#2

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:18 pm

This entire article can be summed up as a misunderstanding and a writer who wants to throw race into the mix where it doesn't belong.

The only problem here is that the police are too gung ho, and it isn't a problem exclusive to people of color.

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#3

Post by New! Tazy Ten » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:27 pm

Why... call 19 police officers to an apartment on reports of a break in? At most I would think that four would be good enough in case a fire fight broke out, but nineteen and a dog? Technically, they weren't even looking for a black woman, they were looking for a Hispanic man so... what? Was he Pablo Escobar's long lost body double? Is there in alien in the basement? Were they making sure they got the last powdered donut in her fridge? There's gotta be something more to this. At least I hope it's not just because.

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#4

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:56 pm

^ I was with my uncle and he bought some minors beer, bam, dozen cops swarmed us guns drawn. I didn't even do anything but I thought I was dead. I'm white. My mom said her ex-boyfriend was stalking her. Guy's in a wheelchair and a whole squad descended upon him, guns drawn. He's white, too. His son, my friend, didn't get along with his sister's boyfriend, and the guy decided to call in a false report that his girlfriend's brother had a gun; they got him down to the ground and jammed a gun into him before basically going "false alarm lol." White. I posted a video here on VGF about another guy I know who was harassed by cops for no good reason, and abused, too. Guess his color.

This stuff, it just happens. Whether they have a reason or not, be it a good one or not, I figure they're bored or something when they pull this crap but cops really need to tone it down. Unless there's a clear threat they don't need more than a few cops, no guns drawn, and no dogs. Being in the company of someone who bought adults alcohol shouldn't result with guns in my face. Same for the lady in this article, she didn't deserve it either.

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#5

Post by LOOT » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:42 pm

this was race the neighbor not only refused to apologize he insulted her right after it happened

this fantasy world where racism isn't a huge issue must be amazing

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#6

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:07 am

[QUOTE="LOOT, post: 1573944, member: 21459"]this fantasy world where racism isn't a huge issue must be amazing[/QUOTE]

I never said racism in general wasn't an issue, if that's what you're saying.

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#7

Post by е и ժ е я » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:45 am

^ Assuming it's not is not practical. Assuming it is is not practical. An investigation is being conducted. That's practical.
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#8

Post by LOOT » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:17 am

except the entire article wasn't written as "police were called, they were ****, by the way I'm black" it gave a complete description of the neighborhood, the profession of the author to tear down any initial stereotypes people tend to have, and the fact that racism this year has peaked reaching levels when lynching was a thing, it's actually extremely plausible to make an assumption of such[DOUBLEPOST=1447917443,1447917381][/DOUBLEPOST]I find it **** ridiculous that a goddamn KKK member dressed in robes could come in and gun down a church of black congregates while shouting "DEATH TO BLACKS" yet the internet will still find ways to say it wasn't a racist attack at all.

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#9

Post by New! Tazy Ten » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:19 am

Except the article itself proves that the police had no idea who was really in there.
It also didn’t matter that I didn’t match the description of the person they were looking for — my neighbor described me as Hispanic when he called 911.
Even if that's the point of the article, it's really not what I find interesting about it. The call was for a break-in with no report of a weapon, no idea who owned the place (As the caller didn't know)... basically, no reason to throw caution to the wind and stomp out in full force complete with a dog that was probably there to sniff something out. So why do that? I guess it's just an LAPD thing? I mean, I've heard stories so it isn't too far fetched. It's just an odd reaction to me.

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#10

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:34 am

[QUOTE="LOOT, post: 1573961, member: 21459"]except the entire article wasn't written as "police were called, they were ****heads, by the way I'm black" it gave a complete description of the neighborhood, the profession of the author to tear down any initial stereotypes people tend to have, and the fact that racism this year has peaked reaching levels when lynching was a thing, it's actually extremely plausible to make an assumption of such[/quote]

The article wasn't written that way, no, but "police were called, they were ****heads, by the way I'm black" is a more accurate summation. Also, where the hell did "I have nightmares of being beaten by white men as they call me the n-word" come from? Did that happen to her at one point prior to or after the event in question?

Also, how is it a fact that racism has reached peak levels? Sounds like hyperbole to me.

[quote="LOOT]I find it ****ing ridiculous that a goddamn KKK member dressed in robes could come in and gun down a church of black congregates while shouting "]

The opposite is also true. Some people think non-whites are incapable of crime. Remember O.J Simpson and all the people who thought he was somehow magically innocent? Of course not, selective memory.

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#11

Post by CaptHayfever » Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:02 am

The police sent too many people because they were given bad info--that there were 3 intruders--by the caller. (The caller gave bad info because he was a racist and/or an idiot.)

The police's poor decisions after they arrived, however, cannot be blamed on the caller; they didn't identify themselves, they didn't accept her proof of residency, they didn't tell her what was going on, & they didn't provide the name/badge info they'd promised. These are signs of either incompetence (they didn't know what they were doing), arrogance ("we're the law, we don't need to justify our actions"), or racism ("you're black, we don't need to justify our actions"), none of which should be acceptable traits in people who can legally kill you.

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#12

Post by ScottyMcGee » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:31 pm

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#13

Post by е и ժ е я » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:09 am

Cops seem to think of normal citizens as animals and themselves as the zookeepers. They don't have to rationalise their motives to us animals.
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#14

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:54 am

^ Disgusting but true.

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