And living to tell the tales.
Traffic was heavy on Route 17 in Hasbrouck Heights on my way home to Ridgewood, NJ, after work on Wednesday, which wasn’t exactly news. But, as I approached a stretch where Route 46 and Interstate 80 go over Route 17, traffic eased and I saw the reason why. Rubbernecking motorists.
What were they looking at?
A black man with both hands on top of his head standing in front of a white police officer on the grassy area next to the shoulder. The cop’s car, lights flashing, and another car in front of it were parked on the shoulder. Unlike Alton Sterling on Tuesday or Philando Castile on Wednesday, this black man stopped by a white cop was still alive.
James Eagan Holmes, heavily armed, killed 12 and injured 70 people in a Colorado theater and was captured alive. Dylann Roof killed nine churchgoers in South Carolina and was captured alive. Jason Dalton killed six and injured two in Kalamazoo. His life was preserved as he was being arrested.
He’s lucky to be alive, I thought as I drove on. Was that too sanguine a response to the situation?
Jesse Williams Speaking out
I am not taking the situation lightly. I’ve lived long enough to be a middle-aged black male despite too many tangles with cops, both in the United States of America and elsewhere, to do that. But, as these killings pile up, becoming more and more common each day, I’ve long realized that I’ve been lucky to still be alive to tell tales of encounters with cops.
My narrow escape from racist Afrikaners in 1994, while on assignment for the New York Daily News in South Africa, is an entirely different story that will be told a different day. Not today. Also, it’s available on the Internet for anyone curious enough to want to find out.
St. Louis, MO in the ’80’s
A police car pulled up behind my car as I eased into traffic after a college friend and I left a bar late one night many years ago. He pulled me over. The cop came up to the car, peered in, then instructed me to step out. I did. He said that he had stopped me for suspected drunk driving because he had observed me weaving in and out of traffic. I protested that I did no such thing and that, in any case, I couldn’t be drunk driving since I had not been drinking.