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Stop and Frisk

Description: 

Raised in Athens it's easy to see that diversity is one thing that makes the town such a great place to live. It's frequent that passerbys will recognize one another, be it from interactions or just the close knit community we find ourselves in. Tolerance and respect are needed for such a small town to survive without collapsing into itself.

My experience with stop and frisk as a young Black man in Athens began two years or more ago. I was walking down Union Street in Athens, a friend and I were preparing to enter a restaurant for a late night meal after leaving an uptown establishment. After my friend initially ordered I noticed that her eyes had shifted to the doorway. There stood four Athens police officers in the door frame, one of whom was making an “approach hither” motion with his index finger. I had walked to the officer and out onto the sidewalk.

Once on the sidewalk I asked how I could help them. An officer approached, handcuffed me, searched my persons, and sat me in the back seat of their cruiser. I asked why I was being detained, no answer. They then approached me a few minutes later claiming that I had not paid $30 of a $2,700 fine I had paid in full years ago. The officer said I was being held for contempt.

I have had three federal criminal background checks to work in the fields I have and do. All have been negative for any criminal doings. I admittedly have very minor offenses on my record, nothing violent or felonious, but to be arrested for contempt almost three years later is a travesty. The officer then came up to me, still with his chewing tobacco in lip, asking for five hundred dollars and he'd let me off the hook. I spent the next three days in Southeastern Ohio Regional jail, a privately owned jail that cares very little about rehabilitation.

It's easy to argue the police knew my face perhaps, but that being said it's just as easy to say the tone of my skin only made it easier. Stop and Frisk is very much a real thing and it's now in your neighborhood. Black or white, this can happen, it has happened to me four times with two resulting with jail for two or more days...for the same fine.

Date of report: 
Sunday, August 30, 2015 - 12:45
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