So by now many of you have seen my status. Even though I'm cooling down right now, I am still f---kin angry. I hope that if you consider yourself a friend to me, you read this note and think long and hard about what has happened to me. I know some of you have already experienced this before...
Many of you already know that I work in Student Life at Saint Louis University and was on my way home in Maplewood after a long day of work. I take the MetroLink to and from work, and shortly after 6:00pm I was walking east on the north side of Manchester Ave. I was about 10 yards behind 3 African-American males (I am also African-American). Just then, a police car driven by Maplewood Police Officer Brennan arrived in front of the 3 guys who were about 10 yards in front of me, and I heard him tell us to put our hands on his hood.
Officer Brennan kept asking if any of us had come from the Enterprise Rent-a-Car building, and those 3 guys said that "we came off the MetroLink and we're on our way to court." I said nothing because I was trying to show that I was not with them. When Officer Brennan asked me where I was coming from, I motioned to my headphones and asked if I could take those out. While I did that, the other guys kept mentioning how they were on their way to court, and one of the guys appeared nervous. Officer Brennan asked him if he was okay, and when the young man mentioned how he was afraid that they'll be late, Officer Brennan mentioned, "Yeah, you are looking really weird."
Officer Brennan patted down and searched the first 2 men, took their IDs, and had them sit against the fence of one of the businesses near the MetroLink. When he got to the third guy, he found a gun in the man's right pocket and proceeded to put him on the ground while pointing the gun he found to the guy's head, saying, "What the f--k are you doing with this? Motherf---ker get on the ground now! Get your a-- on the ground!" I remained with my hands on the hood but watched to make sure I wasn't instructed to do anything.
Then 3 more officers arrived, and the first was Officer Dario (sp), who instructed me to get on the ground. I noticed the first two men sitting against the fence and the third guy face down on the ground, so I asked the officer how he wanted me to get down. "Just get down." I was on my knees but was unsure what else he wanted me to do, so I said, "I'm sorry, but how did you want me to get down?" Officer Dario yelled, "Stop being retarded and get on the ground!" He then told me to put my hands on my head, and I did that and sat there until directed otherwise.
One of the other policemen named Officer Cavanaugh asked if he could search my bag and I said yes. He also told me to sit against the fence. Officer Brennan asked for my ID and I told him that my wallet was in my left pocket. He got my ID out and gave me the wallet back. The fourth officer (whose name I didn't get) asked me to stand up and patted me down, and he asked me where I was coming from. I told him, "I just got off work. I work at Saint Louis University." He then had me sit back down.
After my ID came back with no record on file, Officer Brennan looked at the other two men and asked them if they knew me, and they said no. I was also asked whether or not I knew them and I said no. Officer Brennan then asked the three of us whether or not we were from Maplewood. They said no, I said "yes, sir." Then he told the other two that "You better not come back to Maplewood. You bet' not (trying to speak Black slang)!" He looked over to Officer Dario and they repeated "Bet' not" to each other jokingly. After I was given my ID back and the other two guys got up, I asked if I was free to go and was given permission.
I write all this in detail to say this: I have been a resident of Maplewood since I graduated from Washington University in 2002. This is probably my first negative incident with the Maplewood Police and I hope my last. I don't know if any of you have ever been embarrassed as I have -- made to sit in a position as if you were being arrested while passersby look on, getting talked to as if you were a lesser being by those who are paid to serve and protect, getting your clothes dirtied in a false alarm to yourself, being negatively associated and profiled with others without asking proper questions.
I do understand now (just a little bit) why such alarm was given to me and the others when that gun was found on one of the guys. I don't even have a problem if an officer had come up and said that he had a call in the neighborhood and had reason to search me for weapons. However, the way that Officers Brennan and Dario in particular approached and talked to me is completely opposite from the "professional and courteous manner through interacting with the community" statement as seen on the Maplewood website. Being called or compared with a "retarded" person is not even close to being professional and courteous, and while I do understand that the alarm was raised when the weapon was found, I was and still am thoroughly embarrassed to call myself a resident of Maplewood.
Unfortunately, many of you who look like me have already gone through something like that. Some of you who know me are probably saying something like, "I know you don't look like someone who should have troubles with the police." While I can appreciate that statement on my account, I do not care for racial profiling of ANY kind. I sent much of what is written above to the mayor of Maplewood, as well as the police chief and my two councilmen. I want to let them know how disgusted I am, and I wanted you all to know that if there's anyone reading this who thinks that in 2008, sh-t like this doesn't happen...come and meet me.
If there's anyone out there who thinks that you are culturally aware, or that you're "Black" or whatever, find some time to try out a different adventure: racial profiling. I assure you that it is far from fun. Embarrassing.