24 March 2007

The first time...

I remember my FIRST TIME.
I'll never forget it.
I was 14.

It started around 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon. I was bike riding with two of my buddies, Rick and Ralph, about a mile from our neighborhood. Ralph caught a flat and we didn't have any patches with us, so we had to walk our bikes back home.

About three blocks from home, a Baltimore City police cruiser came down the street towards us and slowed when he got to us. Rick whispered, "He's gonna' stop us." I said, "Naw, he's just checking the addresses, thats all." The police car drove away and I gave Rick an I-told-you-so look. That was just before the second squad car pulled up and slowed along side of us.

What were the odds of two police cars in two minutes having to stop and check addresses at exactly where the three of us were walking? I wondered. My smug look faded. But again, the car drove off. Ralph groaned as the third police car came over the hill in front of us. Three is always the magic number. He slowed, stopped, popped his blue-berries on [his roof lights] and got out.

"Put the bikes down boys and raise your hands."
Ralph and I put our bikes down and slowly raised our hands.
Rick didn't budge.
The cop flipped open his holster and placed his hand against his gun.
Rick dropped his and reached for the sky.

It's been over 20 years and I swear to God, I can still hear that soft, innocent, naive voice in my head saying, "Oh, he's making a big mistake because we didn't do anything wrong. He probably wants to stop some guys further down the street. I wonder if he knows he's in the wrong block? Probably, not." I was honestly expecting someone to come over his radio and say something like, "Car 104. Car 104. We've got the right guys down in the 6800 block. You're in the 6400 block, come on down here with us."

It never happened.

We were patted down, frisked - as some people call it. We were questioned as to where we were coming from, where we were headed, how old were we, what were our adresses, how to spell our names, did we steal our bikes, what schools did we go to... and about 20 other stupid little things. He looked like he really wanted to cuff us and haul us away. I had this sickening and scared feeling in my gut suddenly. What if I went to jail? I didn't do anything wrong. The officer sized us up for a long minute and when all was said and done he left us without a word. I don't believe the three of us spoke a single word for the rest of the walk home.

Not "the first time" you were thinking about, huh?

This same type of stop and check would happen almost 20 times in the next six years. We used to call it "The Pat Down." We'd see a police car coming and it might be two or three of us walking home from the movies or the bus stop or from playing sports in a nearby neighborhood and someone would say, "Here comes a Roller, lets get ready for the Pat Down."

I've always liked police. Still do. Even after a sizeable amount of my childhood innocence was taken at that very first Pat Down, I look at police this way - it's a hard and thankless job. I believe 100% that you have some shallow, arrogant, racist and violent people wearing badges across this country. But, you also have people like that in every career, in every position. I believe that the majority of police in this country are fairly decent and brave men and women that want to do the right thing for their communities, cities and states - but they are overshadowed by stupid and thoughtless morons that steal the headlines with foolishness.

Morons like the Baltimore City Police officers that recently ARRESTED seven year old Gerard Mungo Jr. I've been thinking about My First Time a lot this week after I heard about a little child in handcuffs.

It seems as though Gerard's dad thought it was nice to buy his 7 year old son a motorbike that was deemed illegal to ride in Baltimore city limits. The logic of this decision escapes me on so many levels, it's not even worth mentioning. But when Baltimore City police found the seven year old sitting on this motorbike [which was turned off], which they first claimed was stolen, they snatched him physically off the bike in front of his mother. What insued was a series of traumatic events that included the little boy managing to run up to his bedroom before being HANDCUFFED and taken to the police station and handcuffed to a table. This was done even AFTER the police supervisor had arrived. This is nothing short of complete insanity, with a sprinkling of cold-heartedness and splash of absolute racism and a healthy dose of honest-to-God stupidity!

This kind of unwarranted assualt is one of the reasons I find myself spending less and less time in my hometown.

It saddens me that this little boy will now probably become yet one more little boy that hates the police. He will become one more young boy that has issues with the color of his skin and the color of skin that is not like his. This little boy has lost such a big piece of his innocence. Some foolish men with guns and badges that were sworn to protect and serve, have done the opposite of what they were called to do - instead of protecting and serving, they stole and violated.

I'm sorry that Gerard Mungo Jr. has now had his First Time.



acwo said...

I like your blog very much
keep it up!

Anali said...

I read about this too and it just broke my heart. Seven is so young! There is no excuse for how he treated this little boy.

Tsiporah said...

I read about this the other day too and I was shocked that this officer would treat such a young child in this manner. I have an 8 year old son and I would be livid if he were in that childs shoes. I guess I better be prepared to talk to him about his first time when it happens to him.

Lola Gets said...

I live in DC, and I hadnt heard of this case at all! I used to work in Bmore, so I know their police department had issues, but this is ridiculous! I sincerely hope that someone (government, socio-political organizations, the parents, etc.) do something to let Bmore police know that this kind of behavior is not accecptable.

PS, the father of the child needs to be slapped, for purchasing such dangerous "toy" for his son.


Native Son said...

I saw this story on the news. Baltimore Police went way to far and they should be dealt with. But I also agree with Lola; the father should be slapped and fined for even buying his son the motor bike. He knew damn well it was illegal

CreoleInDC said...

Too many people to blame in this one. The victim, however, is easy to spot. *sigh*

onefromphilly said...

I give my 16 year old son the "Black Man Driving Rules" all the time.
#1) Once you start driving, WHEN you get pulled over by the police, put both hands on the steering wheel
#2) Don't remove your hands from the wheel until you tell the officer where you're reaching for your ID
#3) Present your ID, answer all questions and don't offer any thing unless you are asked.
#4) Don't argue or debate, even if the officer calls you the N-word
#5) Make a mental note of the officer's name and badge #
#6) Tell me and his father immediately

I will never let him get a driver's license until he VOWS to follow these rules. Because although he might not believe it. In this Country not following these rules could cost him his life.

B. Good said...

I am deeply saddened by these actions. How could anyone treat a child this way??? This is horrible.

What happened to asking where the parents are? And maybe citing them for allowing their kid to be on the motorbike?

Just......ridiculous and highly unnecessary. That poor child.

Tasha said...

I'm so saddened by the actions of those officers. I really wonder how this will affect the little boy, and I hope his parents get him into some counseling.

Those cops need to have their badges shredded.

The Thinking Black Man said...

Hey ANALI! What's up Sis?

Yeah, this is absolutely unforgiveable. I still can't wrap my head around it.

Hello there TSIPORAH!
I think, had I been talked to about My First Time - it would have been a little easier on me. I guess this little boys dad figured he had some time before he needed to do it. The whole thing is crazy!

Hey LOLA GETS. This thing blew up really big in Baltimore for about two days. I think it blew up so big that it blew itself out and it didn't make it big many other places. And yeah - pops needs his head examined!

NATIVE SON What's up Brother?

Yeah, this whole thing about the dad getting him an illegal bike baffles me. The cops WERE WRONG - but, the father could and should have used MUCH better judgement. I hear that the little boy had a helmet and leather gloves... to me that's like giving the seven year old a handgun and taking him to the gun range... duh.

Hey CREOLEINDC! Yup, I think ALL of the adults need either their heads examined or their butts kicked... however the little boy has paid the heaviest price. I hope the parents really get him any special attention he may need.

Hey there ONEFROMPHILLY! Beautiful rules! Absolutely perfect. It's a shame that we need a special set of rules for DWB.

Hi B. GOOD! It's like the police were hungry to lock this kid up! For a seven year old, just having a cop frown at you will typically make a kid pee in their pants! But handcuffs, yelling, squad cars, locked to table... WTF?

TASHA, Badges SHREDDED? Lord - you are a woman after my own heart!!! This is just crazy!

Bill said...

Officers like that shame me and our profession.

As a piece of advice for all of us... please acquaint yourselves 18 USC (United States Code) section 242 - Violation of Civil Rights Under Color of Law... also know s the "Bivens" statute... or just google "Bivens v. 6 unknown"


Jessy said...

What on EARTH!? This would never, ever, ever occur here in Australia. My stepfather is a cop, and I'm sure he can be completely arrogant, but still I know that type of racist, disgusting behavior would never happen.

Poor kids... It's so heartbreaking that there has to be a first time for something like this, and even sadder that it still happens in this day in age.

mark said...

Yo TTMB this is Mark Bey you are correct what those police officers did is ridiculous, but also do not forget the mother in this process ethier because she allowed her young son to have the motor bike as well.

I really wish the madness would stop.

The Diary of Tickledpink said...

Common, Cant be the only one who thought he was gonna tell of his first sexual experience :P

Yeh I havent checked out this story which seems over the top and riduculous overreaction for such a young boy.
I get annoyed when hearing stories such as yours by young Black men who are causing no trouble whatsoever, even so I will never know what it feels to face racism as a Black male. We share some similarities in ways but I dont believe we experience this crap the same way between the sexes.

Black men in particular are at the bottom of the pile according to race+gender stereotypes, assumptions and suspicions. To some people intentionally racist or not, Black men are barely human. Why else would someone be able to treat a young child this way??
I think it is underestimated how these happenings can cause imprints on young minds, you were strong enough to continue on but many young Black youth get angry and become that caricature.

And they hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
cause the citys dyin
And they dont know why

Oh, baltimore
Man, its hard just to live
Oh, baltimore
Man, its hard just to live, just to live

Nina Simone

chele said...

But, you also have people like that in every career, in every position

True. But the difference lies in the fact that the police are supposed to protect us ... not pat down 14 year olds in the street just because they feel like it.

Adwin said...

Wow...I hope you don't mind, I linked your post onto my blog at soulofmyfolk.blogspot.com

I want to help spread this story as well.

The Thinking Black Man said...

Hey - thanks BILL I'm going to check that out. I think I've heard out that before, but I need to read it again.

Hello JESSY! Thanks for the comment and thanks for checking out my blog! It is a pretty sad state of affairs. You DO have some real crimes that are committed by kids... kids of insane ages like 8, 9 and 10. Its a bad spot for everyone - these kids DO need to be off the streets and getting the help they need to get their heads on straight, and then you need to be able to put them back into society in an environment that won't screw them up again. and, you need to be able to find them WITHOUT screwing up all the good kids in the process. I don't envy law enforcement at all.

MARK! My Brother! How could I forget the mother in all this...

This SMAAAAAACK! goes upside HER head for her part in all this!


I do think there is a certain element in big city policing that views black males as prey for the hunt. That's the reason I stopped watching the police show "COPS". You would see these police, all jacked up with their body armor, pistols, tazers, plastic flex cuffs, radios and cars and they'd approach some knucklehead [sadly, often a brother] selling $10 worth of weed and then all hell would break loose and it's like the show suddenly becomes WILD KINGDOM and nine hungy lions are chasing a terrified zebra through the streets and alleys of of Houston, Texas. When they catch him, it becomes "COPS" and everybody is our of breath, and slappin' high fives and talkin' smack like they just one the superbowl!

You have the nervous buildup, the moment of truth, the massive adrenylin push, and then the climax and aftermath. It's just too much sport in it for me.

I'm all for getting criminals off the street, but some people take a dark, animalistic approach to the people they lock up.

Hello CHELE!

You know... you are 100% right.

Being police is [to many] a special calling with special responsibilities. A plumber or electrician that is a thoughtless jerk, is pretty different.

Thank you very much for the comment! And, welcome to my blog!

Thanks ADWIN! I appreciate that! Thanks for checking out my blog and I'll be sure to do the same with you!

Redneck Mommy said...

As the mother of two-soon-to-be-teens, my heart just seizes with fear at the thought of my kids ever getting their first pat down. And then to read what happened to that little boy, well now my blood is full on boiling. I hope that somebody took notice of this event and that those officers will be reprimanded PUBLICLY and forced to apologize.

There is nothing that can undo what happened to that little boy, but perhaps an event like this could prevent it from ever happening again.

Because, sadly, without some sort of change, it will continue to happen. And that is unforgiveable.

I'm glad I found you. I'm gonna link to you, if you don't mind.