Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

What Will You Do When They Come for You?

It’s June 26, 2018 on Tuesday and I have just reset my alarm for 8:20 AM trying to snooze with my pup for a few more minutes. I hear a loud knocking at the door. No one ever comes to my house and knocks on the door unless they are bringing my delivery food. And there’s a difference anyway. You know the difference between loud knocking and police knocking. I don’t care what anyone says, there’s a difference.

I get out of bed make sure that my dogs are on the other side of the baby gate so they don’t run out and try to protect me or scare anyone. Piper is a Staffy. A “bully” breed that people are unnecessarily afraid of. I look through the peephole and whoever is there has positioned themselves so that I cannot actually see anyone. I can hear that tell-tale police radio so I know to whom I’m opening my door. I open it just a crack and they ask me to “verify my address”. The address is literally on the mailbox? I see the papers in one officer’s hand and automatically understand what is happening. A few weeks ago two other officers showed up at my door looking for someone asking the exact same questions. That person does not live here, I have lived here for a year, no I do not know them, I don’t know if I get their mail because I don’t pay all that much attention. If it’s junk I throw it away, if it’s real I RTS.

“You don’t look at your mail?” His question drips with suspicion and contempt.

I have experienced this before. In family court. Things that are truly normal activity are seen as weird, unnatural, not-normal. Like running out of milk occasionally or making your 6-7 year old make their own lunch. I now realize after some hours this was part of the trigger for me. Being gaslit by a person in authority.

These officers ask the same questions as the previous ones. “Is anyone else in the home?” No. “Have you seen this person?” If I had, I wouldn’t know it. If I had I wouldn’t tell you anyway… “How long have you lived here?” A year.

I’m getting really frustrated. Don’t you have a department that’s literal job description is “Detective”? You don’t know after multiple attempts to come here, leave cards to call for this person, that they are not here?

Why do you keep coming here? “Ma’am we’ve been ‘respectful’ and you’re being hostile.”

Here we go.

This is scary. Having cops bang on my door at 8:00am in the morning is frightening. I am on probation and while I know that I have not violated my probation in anyway, I am scared.

“Why are you scared?” Because I don’t trust cops.

The younger officers nods but then the older, larger one asks, “Why?” He gets a little closer to me. I’m against my door on one side and the stoop rail on the other.

Are you kidding me? Do you even watch the news or understand your own department?

“Who is your landlord? Do you have a copy of your lease?” You mean readily available? Sure, Officer, let me just pull it out of my ass…

“What is your landlord’s last name?” Dude, I don’t know. In my phone he is Sahil Landlord. We barely talk. I pay my rent early and don’t cause any problems so I’d have to look on my phone for anything. He scoffs again that I don’t have his last name at the ready.

Do you all know your landlord’s name or the managing company right off hand? No? Exactly.

“Ma’am you’re being hostile. Do you have I.D.? We are going to need to see it.”

I go inside and lock the front door behind me. I am shaking. I left my purse in my car and I park behind my home.

I unlock and open the rear-door and I jump because there is a very tall officer standing right in front of me. He seems almost as stunned as me to be confronted by a petite white woman with blue hair, a DC comics nightgown, and my hair tied up in bare feet.

I’m getting my ID. I literally open my car door and yank my purse. He does nothing, still surprised. I wonder if my demographics were darker, taller, male, or louder would I be alive or in jail, tazed or shot? He never asked if I had any weapons or what I was doing.

Then I see something move out of the corner of my eye. It’s another officer. My home has been surrounded.

I go inside, shaking, crying, so overwhelmed at what feels like a huge intimidation and violation. All I did was reset my alarm for 20 more minutes.

I walk to the front of the house, by now Piper is very concerned and I make sure she is in the back of the house. I don’t want her to react and get hurt.

I unlock and open the front door and hand over my license.

It would have been super helpful if you guys had let me know my home was surrounded. I had to go to my car and had no idea. That doesn’t seem very safe for me.

They ignore my concern.

“Go ahead and run that,” the larger one says.

Why? I haven’t done anything wrong. If you’re just checking it’s me.

“You have the right to be hostile, I have the right to run your license.”

You have the right to be hostile, I have the right to run your license.”

No other reason. Just to remind me who is in charge.

I’m going to need everyone’s name and badge number, your cards if you have them.

The younger one nods. The older one affirms verbally. Annoyed.

They keep asking me why I am afraid. I have GAD so by this time I am shaking and I feel that old familiar panic rising in my chest. I don’t trust cops. Cops are scary. Why do you keep coming?

“You are continuing to be hostile. We didn’t bang on your door. This is the address we have on a lawful warrant.”

Just doing our jobs. Just doing our jobs…

Like serving “legal” warrants haven’t gotten the elderly shot and a baby mutilated from a flash bomb launched into his crib here in Atlanta.

He just keeps talking over me. They have tactical gear. Those eye cameras that look like Google Glass. Side arms, yellow tasers, steel-toed boots, and bullet proof vests. They are tall and menacing.

Why do you keep coming?

“That was a different agency ma’am.” In a way that is intended to make me feel small and stupid. Neither time did the officers identify their agency, so how would I know? Do they not ever interact with each other and you know, share known information?

I feel profound sadness at interacting with four black male officers. I am not afraid of their skin, I am sad they are working for an institution that hates them. An institution whose history included chasing and enslaving their ancestors. I am just sad.

Colonial socialization is a hell of a drug. I’m profoundly aware of my own internalized racism, sexism, queerphobia…classism.

Conveniently, I never receive any names or badge numbers.

I want to know why they don’t know that person doesn’t live here.

My girlfriend has seen a police officer parked across from the house several times this week. We thought it was because the house across the street from us has had some “suspicious activity” (read, comings and goings, loud arguments, drinking on their lawn, living without electricity. None of these are illegal except for the electricity which is literally an illegality to support capitalism) in the past. The Dekalb SWAT team has been there before.

But now…now I think maybe they were watching us. But surely they can see that it’s just me and my girl and sometimes our dogs.

I need to move and I’m glad I’m gonna do that but that doesn’t actually solve the problem.

Why do they not know basic information? Is it really good I was home? Would I have come home to my home ransacked as I did when I was robbed? My dogs shot and left afraid to die alone trying to protect our home?

Even if I did know the man’s name, I would never have given it up. I would never throw a black man under the militarized, overbearing police bus. It’s a tank really.

Until recently, I’ve never seen police in my area. I find it so interesting that now that investors are buying up houses to remodel and flip…there’s suddenly a police presence. When and why did they suddenly decide to start giving all this attention to my little, mostly quiet neighborhood?

My whiteness protected me today. I know that for sure. But I also know that I signal my queerness through a rainbow sticker on my window, my queer af haircut and color, my queer tattoo, and I’m a woman whose size was clearly an advantage for the officers at my door.

It’s no secret that I don’t like cops. I blast it on social media every day. The way things are going I don’t know…people post online about professors all the time. Who is a leftist, who is anti-cop, anti-ICE, anti-Prison and corrections. They get addresses wrong all the time. They get addresses right all the time…

So sure, file a report. File a report with a racist, sexist, queerphobic, militaristic, fascist agency that literally polices and investigates its own self.

Bureaucracy is not benign. Just doing one’s job is how bureaucracy engages with authoritarianism. Systematic violence and oppression.This is how bureaucracy supports human rights violations.

I am definitely not a victim here. I know my whiteness saved me. But if you stop caring when they come for other people what are you gonna do when they start coming for you?

Written by thelittlepecan

June 26, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Sociology

4 Responses

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  1. It’s not terrible. It’s necessary. And yes, terrifying.

    thelittlepecan

    June 27, 2018 at 12:27 am

  2. So. Scary.
    I’m glad you’re ok, and yes, how terrible to know that it’s partly because you’re white…

    bone&silver

    June 27, 2018 at 12:21 am

  3. Please share!

    thelittlepecan

    June 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm

  4. Wow! Thank you for this.

    Becca

    June 26, 2018 at 12:52 pm


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