On Tuesday, I passed five cops surrounding a single man on the sidewalk near the intersection of Hilyard and 19th. Multiple cop cars blocked traffic, lights on. As is my new personal protocol, I got out my phone and filmed. The man was quick to feel me as an ally. He called a stern, “Thank you.”
The cops handcuffed the man, they ran a background check and they searched him. They apparently found nothing illegal in their systems check or on his body. They removed the handcuffs.
While the man was searched and I stood by filming, one of the cops asked me how I was doing. I told him I am tired of seeing people who have either markers of poverty or markers of counter-culturalism harassed, if not terrorized, by the state. The cop said, “You’re profiling this man.”
I said again what I find to be true. Another cop said I was being unkind to the man with my assumption that he didn’t have much.
This cop wrote the man a citation. He’d failed to adhere to traffic laws while riding his bike. $300.
The man: 40ish years old, missing teeth, a sleeping bag tied to his backpack, no associated address. He told me after the cops left, that he’d been visiting a friend at the hospital, wanted to bring her something to eat.