After A While…, This Gets Old

Can’t Cage This Rage

I am carrying my computer bag and dressed in my scrub suit. I walk up to the receptionist at the doctor’s office, and politely wait my turn as she is attending to someone. When she is finished I approach the desk. Before I can speak she asks me; ‘are you here to deliver something?’

This gets old. I am getting old and so is this routine. What would make her think I was the delivery boy? Is it my scrub suit? Is it my computer bag draped over my shoulder?

I really know the answer already…, and this routine is getting so old.

‘No mam, I answer.’ I am here to meet Dr. Pauls. I have an appointment.

I do my best to forget what she asked me because I was trying to cage the rage rising inside of me. Caging rage gets old too. I guess by process of elimination, being the only black man in the room…, I must be delivering something.

So I understand the rage unleashed in Baltimore this past few days.

“This is a slow-rolling crisis,” Obama said. “This has been going on for a long time. This is not new and we shouldn’t pretend it’s new.” (President Obama commenting on Baltimore events of the week)

For instance take this story from The Washington Post section The Watch

The city (Baltimore) has spent $5.7 million on settlements and awards, and another $5.8 million in legal fees. Were it not for the statutory limit (which frankly seems both low and unfair), the former figure would likely be a lot higher.

U.S. cities pay out millions to settle police lawsuits

On a cold January afternoon, Jerriel Lyles parked his car in front of the P&J Carry Out on East Monument Street and darted inside to buy some food. After paying for a box of chicken, he noticed a big guy in jeans, a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap.

“What’s up?” the man said to Lyles. Others, also dressed in jeans and hoodies, blocked the door to the street — making Lyles fear that he would be robbed. Instead, the man identified himself a police officer, frisked Lyles and demanded he sit on the greasy floor. Lyles objected.

“The officer hit me so hard it felt like his radio was in his hand,” Lyles testified about the 2009 incident, after suing Detective David Greene. “The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”

The Baltimore detective offered a different version of events in court, saying that Lyles’ injuries might have resulted from poking himself in the face. He also couldn’t say why officers stopped Lyles, who was not charged with any crime.

But jurors didn’t buy the officer’s explanation. They ruled in Lyles’ favor, and the court ultimately ordered the city to pay him $200,000, the statutory limit in Maryland for most lawsuits against a municipality . . .

Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.

A recent report cited Philadelphia policeman were charged and convicted of planting evidence and even lying under oath. Former Philadelphia drug squad police officer Jeffrey Walker admitted in court that he and his coworkers would routinely plant evidence and shake down people for money. Walker pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is now testifying in order to put other corrupt cops behind bars. More than 160 drug convictions have been overturned and the department has been inundated with civil rights lawsuits

Cities around the country face the same dilemma, mounting literally to billions of dollars in lawsuits paid out for police actions…, and broken lives of victims, families, communities for something that quite frankly are after a while, getting old. How many schools could have been built, after school programs and city libraries could stay open if that money were better spent?

I never corrected the receptionist. It was actually the second time that week that I had faced such prejudice. I know that if I as an educated man who has options of which car to drive, what restaurant to eat at, which pair of shoes to wear can be dismissed because of my complexion…, I might want to burn down something too. It does get old after a while and caging this rage is difficult.