After looking me up and down from nappy head to worn out Jordans, he began to speak. He was the spitting image of Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad—short, stout, and bald with limousine tinted sunglasses and a deep burly voice that made him seem all the more intimidating. He spoke with the kind of authority that led me to assume that he was the chief.
John Crawford, 22Beavercreek, Ohio, August 5, 2014
“It’s not real.”
Two shots. He was on the phone with his mother when he was shot by police in an Ohio Walmart. Police said he didn’t follow commands to put down a toy rifle he’d picked up in the store. A Walmart employee saw Crawford walking around with the air pump gun (a product sold by the store), got alarmed and proceeded to call 911. The state of Ohio has an open carry gun law. His shooters: Officer Williams and Sergeant Darkow were placed on administrative leave.
“Spread ya arms and legs.”
I obeyed and let him pat me down. This may have been the first time someone besides me grabbed my genitals with so much purpose. Pretending as if he had not just touched a prepubescent boy’s penis, the officer casually carried on with his questioning.
“Where ya headed?”
“My uncle’s house. My sister lives with him and my aunt.” This was before I’d received “the talk,” so I gave him any and all information pertaining to where I was going, where I had come from, and even where I was born.
“Yea, I bet,” the deputy said, as he ruffled through my backpack, spilling all its contents onto the scorching July gravel.
At least I knew to stay silent then.
“Where ya from?” the chief continued.
“Psh, get outta here!” he blurted, not in an authoritative accusatory way, but more like a good friend would if you told them you’d kissed the prettiest girl in school.
“It’s true, though.”
“Well, prove it, boy. Let’s see some I.D.”
In response I pulled out my wallet from my back pocket, took out my I.D and handed it to him.
“Well, ain’t that a bitch!” he cheerfully yelled.
“Told ya.” At this point, I think he realized just how old I was from my I.D because he kept glancing back and forth between me and the card like he was in slight disbelief.
“Sorry for the confusion. The dog told us there was weed on the bus. Must’a made a mistake,” he confessed rather gleefully.
Ignoring the fact that he just told me that his German shepherd had the ability to speak the English language, I simply chuckled and told him not to worry about it.
“Pick up ya stuff, and head on back on the bus.”
I didn’t think anything of this encounter at the time or later when I got to my uncle’s house. I didn’t even tell him what had happened. I kept telling myself that they were simply doing their job, and I brushed the whole experience back to the recesses of my mind. The fact that I had never touched marijuana a day in my life before that was probably just a simple misunderstanding. The fact that they didn’t even find any weed on the bus at all was probably also that, a simple misunderstanding. Or so I’d like to believe. They always see your skin first before anything else. It’s a good thing that I was born in Houston.
Michael Brown, 18Ferguson, Missouri, August 9, 2014
“I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.”
Six shots including two in the head. Unarmed and stopped for jaywalking, a young Michael Brown was shot by a police officer while on his way to visit his grandmother, two days before he was set to begin classes at Vatterott College. Police later claimed that Brown had stolen cigars from a nearby store. Security camera footage showed Michael paying for cigarillos and the store owner stated that he never reported any robbery. His shooter: Darren Wilson is on paid leave and has received tens of thousands of dollars from a fundraiser in his name.
“At what age is a black boy when he learns he’s scary?”
Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude
Kevin Son may be a junior at SUNY Oswego. He was until very recently studying psychology but has now decided to follow his passion for creative writing, as harrowing as it may be. He calls Brooklyn, New York his home and when he’s not indulging in video games and YouTube, he is firmly planted on his feet playing the keyboard, because he doesn’t own a bench.