The kid and the cop

Some people can't work or walk or think without music, but my life usually doesn't have a soundtrack. I don't wear headphones while I'm working the fish stand. My work and my thoughts, they comfort me.

Today, though, my stand was between an old guy with six tables of tawdry rings and bracelets, with a booming box of country-western wailing geetars, and a black lady selling beads and incense, with CDs blasting rude rap. They each seemed to find the other's music annoying, and turned their music a little louder, and soon it was very loud indeed. Neither would yield, and I never heard a note of music, only noise.

There was one brief stretch when both my neighbors turned their ghetto blasters down. It started when a man's voice shouted, "Stop right there!"

Looking up from the zine I was reading, I saw a purple-haired street kid with a surprised look on his face, being hassled by one of Berkeley's jokes on wheels, er, cops on bicycles. "What did I do?" the kid asked.

"Just stop right there," the cop repeated, though the kid had already stopped.

"Unless you're gonna arrest me," he said, "I'm not stopping. I have rights." He took a step away, and the cop calmly got off his bike, put the kickstand down, and tackled the kid into a storefront window. Miraculously it didn't shatter; their bodies bounced off the glass, and onto the sidewalk.

"Police brutality!" shouted another kid on the sidewalk, presumably a friend of the tacklee. "You can't do that with no reason!"

The kid who'd been brutalized, still lying awkwardly under the cop's body and arms and anger, said nothing. The cop snarled, "I don't need a reason, and I can do anything I want." I remember the words like Memorex, because you don't often hear a policeman describe his work so succinctly.

The cop and the kid picked themselves up off the sidewalk, and the kid asked, "Why did you do that, man?"

"You're getting a ticket, you snotty punk, for jaywalking." At this the kid, his friend, several onlookers, and I all broke into laughter. There are 25,000 jaywalkers on Telegraph, any day.

While the officer of the law scribbled a ticket, the purple-haired kid's friend taunted the cop, with supporting insults from other kids on the sidewalk. One of them was the same obnoxious skinhead who'd heckled the Christians on Saturday, and he's an expert in annoying. "Fascist pig!" he shouted. Other said, "Dickless cop!" and "Porky bastard!" My contribution was, "Everybody hates a shitty cop, shitty cop."

Nobody was arrested, and the policeman eventually mounted his muscular bike and pedaled away, but I'm sure he'll be trouble for ordinary people for as long as he's alive.

I told the kid who'd gotten the ticket he was nuts trying to tell a cop about rights. Might as well tell an elephant about suntan lotion.

Also told him I'd testify to what I saw, if he wants to fight the ticket in court, or complain about cop misconduct. Can't say whether the kid jaywalked, your honor, but I saw a dozen other jaywalkers while the cop was holding that kid down on the sidewalk. The only reason that kid was stopped was because the cop didn't like the way he looked — leather jacket, spiked and painted hair, through his nose, tattoos all over him, etc.

"Thanks, dude," said the kid, "but I ain't fighting it and I ain't paying it. The pig and the judge are both working for the mayor," and he was right, of course. It's a con, and they're playing all of us.

From Pathetic Life #15
Friday, August 18, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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