Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”
I have been moving away from stories of things happening to individuals and towards stories of trends and policies (which represent situations in which we need to fight for what is right, individually and politically. Today I am going back to a story of a single individual, because it is a story over multiple years, it is reflected in the experiences of classmates of the individual (and in so many others who are nameless), and it definitely represents a trend and a pattern of trends which we would do well to oppose.
Because it was originally told in a tweet thread, and those are public domain, I will mostly be quoting it directly. It was shared on Daily Kos by Frank Vyan Walton under the title “If this thread doesn’t make you cry…” It’s from the Twitter account of Gregory McKelvey (@GregoryMcKelvey). All emphasis is mine.
I had a police officer stationed in my high school. At one point he got a warrant to investigate me for a stolen calculator, that I didn’t steal. He kicked down my door after school one day with 8 other cops in riot gear with guns drawn on my Grandma.
I ran upstairs and hid under the bed because I thought he was there to kill me. He took my computer, phone, and trashed my entire room as an officer held me and my grandmother in my kitchen at gun point.
I was expected to go to school the next day with him there. I had to hold it all in. I had nightmares about it for years. I couldn’t focus in class, I was always terrified. The white kids were getting stickers from him as I feared for my life.
I couldn’t get school work done the same as the other kids because I had no computer so I fell behind. This impacted which colleges I could go to.
At one point he finally returned my items. I was obviously not charged. But he would constantly pull me out of class in a public manner and question me about the calculator. He would do so with my vice principle [sic] in the room.
He took me to jail where I sat for hours. My parents were on vacation, there was no one I could call. He then told me I was not under arrest but that he was trying to teach me a lesson.
After that the coaches would not let me become captain, again impacting my college options. It also impacted which kids would risk associating with me. For some kids this means hanging out with kids who are actually committing crimes and falling into that life.
I cannot state enough how terrified I was in school at all times. Every morning I wondered if he would arrest me at school. I saw him everyday. Every night when I was supposed to do homework, I was worried he would kick my door in again.
Every knock on the door terrified me my entire life, up until this day. The funny thing is, I was not political at all before this. But this and other experiences I had with police throughout my life pushed me into fighting for justice.
The police didn’t just harass me and my high school friends at school. It was just part of life being black in a white neighborhood. Being stopped at the age of 14 and asked why I’m in my own neighborhood…
Or walking my dog and police pulling up and saying I was reported as a potential drug dealer by my own neighbors.
Being thrown to the ground at 13 because I matched the description of someone who got in a fist fight.
Being with my friend who was a recent rape victim when she saw her abuser and called the cops because she had a restraining order and police showing up and handcuffing me for their protection even though I wasn’t involved. I was 14. He Didn’t cuff the white kids around.
Being stopped at 15 while walking down the street and drinking a water bottle because police said it looked like vodka. At 15…
Being stopped at 16 while crossing the street because my pants were sagged and my backpack looked heavy so they thought I had a gun.
This is just the life of a black kid. It’s just expected to be normal. It was the life of all my friends. We thought that was just life. We knew it didn’t happen to our white peers but we just thought it’s how it was. We thought we were flawed.
So I say all this because these white school board members voting for more cops just don’t know what this all feels like. I will have this trauma for the rest of my life. It permanently messed me up. It ruined high school and narrowed my opportunities.
I was just a kid. People of color already have the entire deck stacked against us but to then throw salt in the wound and have those officers sit in the room next to us and expect us to learn? The same ones who harass us all day in and out of school?
And I didn’t even steal the damn calculator. I wasn’t the best kid. I smoked pot and cussed with my friends. But I knew white kids doing cocaine at 16. They had never had an interaction with police except when they got their damn stickers.
Our white students feared detention, I feared arrest. To hear white people tell me that Officer was there for my protection is laughable. He was there to oppress people of color.
And before you say I just had a bad cop, he quit being a police officer. He told me through a mutual friend that he quit because of me. He was horrified looking back at what he was forced to do to me. Idk what forced means in this context. Just what he said.
Anyways, just writing this thread really fucking hurts. I am one of the lucky ones. This isn’t about safety this is about trauma that you are giving little kids. Just please don’t.
Fuck I’m literally still crying I can’t believe writing that shit was so hard for me. I’m so used to talking about whatever even personal stuff and never being nervous but this really cuts deep. I was so damn young. I was good. They really fucked me up y’all. I don’t even cry lol
didn’t expect this to blow up but since it did, there are things you can do.
– pressure your local officials to remove officers from schools
– uplift stories like these
– support PoC activists and businesses we need y’all to use your privilege to help offset these stories.
And when I say support I don’t just mean tweets. Buy from black owned businesses, donate to black and PoC orgs, compensate people for the work they are doing to change the world. My cash is [redacted] but there are people in your town too. Support them.
We have to jump ten times higher to get to the same place. Help us with a boost.
Gregory was a Sanders delegate to the DNC in 2016. He has since organized anti-Trump protests. He is (as he says) one of the lucky ones (those who are less lucky never get heard.)
Why now? Because last Tuesday the Portland (OR) School board voted $1 million to put nine more officers in the public schools. The question now goes to the Portland City Council. That Council is really the entity to whom the thread is addressed. But – as he says – “[T]here are people in your town too. Support them.”
Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, stay on us. Don’t let us do nothing.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 HERE.