(For the Human who inspired this blog. I’m sorry, but this is all I have to offer)
Tonight at approximately 7:05 pm I walked up to the area of Union Station where the cabs pick-up. There were at least 10 Metropolita Police Department of DC Officers (MPDC) and DC Fired Department employees (DCFD) surrounding a body on the ground.
As I approached the first thing I noticed were the smiles on their faces and the sound of laughter. I got closer as I was trying to get to the Metro station. Then I realized that there was a man, in a puddle of urine, passed out on the ground, shoes off and occasionally mumbling. Before I could stop myself I said very loudly, “What is funny about this situation? Why are there smiles on your faces?” One of the Black male MPDC officers responded, “You don’t know what we laughing at we got this we know this situation”
I answered, “Nothing about this situation requires laughter or smiles”
Someone else from the crew a, male, explained, “We got this. You can just move along.”
“Are you going to FD-12 him?” I asked, “What are your plans?”
More laughter and a short Black woman stood writing a ticket and a White male DCFD said, “He’s not an FD-12 Miss. So move along.”
“No,” said a stocky Black male MPDC officer, “He gittin’ a ticket for public intoxication and vagrancy.”
You see it’s warm out tonight, no FD-12, just tickets and laughter. No mandatory shelters, just smiles all around.
“If I take a picture of your smiles,” I said strongly, but lowering my voice, “and post it on Facebook, how do you think you will look?” Each one of them stopped, turned to me and saw my phone. But I stopped. I could not do it because the female officer whispered to the short stocky Black officer and he said, “I could, but let’s just leave that situation alone.” See I read lips real well—always have (hyper-vigilance is why I’m still alive)—and he stared me down. I heard the voice of someone dear speaking to me, and she whispered, “You do not have the privilege to get involved in these situations with the police because you are on papers.”
See I have three years hanging over my head. It’s called “Supervised Release” and it is worse than probation cause I earn no street time for good behavior. If I were to be arrested one day before my “Supervised Release” ended, I could be given the full three years in prison, and then placed back on “Supervised Release”. I am still in custody and I must cross my T’s and dot my I’s for three years or this becomes a life sentence. As I stood there, I heard her whisper in my ear about my lack of privilege. I also heard her remind me, “If they arrest you again, I don’t think we can get you out.” And this is the truth I have no power. I have no privilege.
What did I do? I hesitated long enough for them to see and they turned back to their work of dehumanizing this man. This human. And I turned my phone to my ear and a tall Black male MPDC officer walked over to me and smiled, showing his braces—his youth and naiveté—and leaned down and asked, “Do you even wanna know why we laughing? What you doing?” I answered, “Calling 311.” Then the White DCFD male looked at him and then sneered at me and said, “She is not worth anything. Leave her alone.”
3-1-1 was a shit-show. Automation after automation. I hung up and while the female officer continued to write out the ticket, I called 9-1-1. The operator asked, “What’s your emergency?” And I told her, “Your officers and fire department are humiliating this man in front of Union Station who is sick and needs help.” I went on and then she asked, “What do you need Mam?” I said loudly, “I need someone in charge like a captain or lieutenant to come down here and see what these people are doing who work for them.”
In the end she instructed me to stay put as I was a complaining witness and she needed me to be there when the new officers arrived. I heard the whisper in my ear and I said, “No I can’t wait.” The operator asked, “What’s your name?” and I said loudly, “Taylar Nuevelle.” Then I spelled it for her and gave my phone number. I realized that the number of officers had decreased by half. While I was yelling into the phone, they realized I was serious and then they came with a stretcher to take the man to the hospital.
I walked away. I called Emily because I had just finished spending an evening out with her sharing our hopes, fears, struggles and successes. I called her because I was of no use. Then my other line beeped, it was the 9-1-1 operator, the same woman I had spoken with, and she asked, “Ms. Taylar are you still there?” I laughed and said, “No I’m sorry I have too much going on in my life to stick around.” She explained that the officer was there to take my complaint. Then she questioned, “Who are you going to contact about your complaint if you don’t talk to the officer?” I laughed again and said, “I’m going to call the Mayor. I’m going to call Councilmember McDuffie, and then I’m going to issue a FOIA request for my 9-1-1 call.” She said, “Okay, be safe.”
Be safe. I am not Resilient Girl. I do not have the privilege. When I call 9-1-1 to report police brutality (be it emotional and/or physical violence), I have to kick rocks because once they look me up, I will either be arrested and/or FD12 (Involuntary commitment for at least 24 hours).
I understand that I have no privilege at this time. But one day I will and I will use it. Until then, those of you who are free please use your privilege to speak up and out, and do not take it lightly.