I really need to pay attention to my Facebook feed more often.
A friend of mine, Crissy Brown, who I worked with last year, was arrested, thrown in jail, strip-searched, and detained for hours back in July–all because she didn’t pay a ticket for an expired license plate in a timely manner.
That is just messed up.
Crissy writes about her experience on Thoughts on Liberty. In her words:
While driving to work on Independence Day, I was pulled over by a Tuscaloosa cop for having expired tags. I had gotten a ticket for my expired license plate previously – and hadn’t taken care of it for the same reason my tags were expired: I’m a student waitress who barely gets by as it is.
The cop informed me there is a warrant out for my arrest (…”what?”), and without asking a single question, he handcuffed me and rummaged through my car.
I was three weeks late paying my prior ticket, and that is all it took to be given the total criminal treatment. He “helps” me into the back of the cop car, and this is when time stopped existing – stopped mattering at all.
I was taken to the police station, printed and photographed, then taken to jail to repeat the process. I asked so many questions, inquired (relatively) politely as to why some of the steps being taken were necessary, and I was told to “shut up” or just completely ignored at every turn.
As soon as I arrived at the police station, before I could make it through the metal detectors, I was pushed against a wall and made to stand there until a female officer could take the time to inappropriately touch – I mean frisk – me. As the woman ran her hands down my body and between my legs, three male officers stood behind me, watching the show.
From there, I was processed, which included stripping down in front of a female officer. While I stood before her naked, I asked the cop why it was necessary for me to be strip searched; she responded by calling me an asshole and deciding I needed to take a shower to, I suppose, wash the filth out of my mouth. I didn’t even get a towel to dry off with. She handed me a large, burlap-like orange set of scrubs, bedding, and a mattress. I was escorted down to population, made to walk along gray tape on the ground (it really pissed them off if you deviated from the “inmate line”), and then put in a holding cell that had more women than beds, two metal picnic tables, and an old fuzzy TV set.
I was in jail for a little over eight hours. For the last three, my family sat waiting for them to release me, wondering why it takes so long to process a bond. When they finally freed me, I thought to myself, “thank god this is over.”
Not even close.
That is beyond messed up.
Humans generally understand the concept of “proportionality,” and not going overboard with things. We understand that you don’t physically beat someone up if they just happen to bump into you when walking down the street, nor do you give the death penalty to someone who has stolen your bike. There are limits to punishment and response.
At least, everyone understands this aside from local police. Not just in Alabama, but everywhere.
We are inundated with horrific stories of police abuse all the time, from the police evicting a family from a house so they could plot out a raid on their neighbors in Nevada, shoot unarmed passengers minding their own business, and leading to all the incidents that make up journalist Radley Balko’s new book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.
While we’re trying to roll back the National Security Agency’s unreasonable domestic spying programs, try to end the droning of innocent people, and cut back spending, let’s not forget the plight of my friends like Crissy Brown. This is a real situation that everyone needs to get outraged about–because this time it was Crissy.
Next time, it will be you.