On NPR’s Code Switch blog today, Monica Potts shares her experience as an investigator of police misconduct in New York City, and how she grew from initial suspicion towards complainants to a greater understanding of the day to day life when the State assumes you are a criminal simply because of the intersection of geographic location, gender and skin color:
It wasn’t long before I began to understand that people living in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods were always under surveillance. In the housing projects, the NYPD had rooms full of TVs with security camera feeds, and they could stop anyone in the hallways or stairways of project buildings any time. Outside the projects, they were always stopping, questioning, and detaining young men for their “furtive gestures.”
After a year at the CCRB, I understood why, if I were a young man who was minding my own business with my friends — having been stopped by police at random intervals for many of my teenage years — I might be disinclined to follow an officer’s orders. I might, under such circumstances, put up a fight. More often, the fight is brought to them. Perhaps that’s why so many people now seem to have their iPhones ready to record videos as soon as an arrest begins.
You can read the whole thing here. It’s a fascinating and nuanced piece.