Preparing to go to a highly anticipated party on a Saturday evening. It’s an old friends birthday and there is a house party on the Upper West Side of NYC and it is looking like an extremely promising evening. I had three lovely young women who were going to meet me at the party and all was well in the world. I am not much of a gift guy so I will usually go for a gift that benefits me and the person I’m giving the gift to. In this case, I offered to buy a bottle and the birthday girl gladly accepted.
While packing for my trip to the liquor store to acquire the gin for the party, I remembered that I had a small clip of a joint so I grabbed it and headed out. I’ve walked around in my neighborhood and smoked on many occasions but the cops were out on this night in Brooklyn. As I walked down the street casually blazing, I saw two guys who I almost immediately spotted as either undercovers or someone trying to rob me. Something told me to drop the joint but reaction time was…
One approached on my side of the street and the other stayed on the other side. I tried to walk by but the guy on my side grabbed me without identifying himself and then the other one ran from the other side of the street and they both physically restrained me without showing any forms of identification or asking any questions. I was immediately cuffed and they took my wallet out of my pockets and started rummaging through the rest of my pockets while they finally announced that they were police. I had to ask several times to see their badges before they showed me their badges. One finally reluctantly showed me his badge and the other didn’t show me anything. They put me in the back of an old dodge neon that didn’t have any markings of it being a police car, still handcuffed. At this point I’m still thinking that these could be fake cops.
We take our ride to the station to which they ask idiotic questions like:
“Why did you flinch when we grabbed you? If you had just stayed calm and said it’s just weed we would have let you go.”
Cops : “Why were you going down that block? You were going to buy more weed weren’t you!”
Me: “I’m on my way to buy poisonous, deadly, but legal alcohol and minding my business and not bothering anyone with a small clip of the joint. Can I at least finish it?”
Believe or not we actually ended up in a decent conversation where we laughed and joked a bit about the neighborhood. They told me a few tips about how to stay safe and they also admitted that they don’t really care about weed but they just have to do it because it’s their job. No surprises there. Huffington post just put out an article showing that police profit from federal grants that are only given to the police precincts that prove that they have the most drug arrests. As a result of this, cops make getting small drug arrests higher priority than arresting violent criminals. I’ll touch more on this later… back to the story.
We arrive at the precinct and they take my shoe strings, my belt, and all the shit I have in my pockets. This all seems very routine to them. I ask the narcotics cop what about the result of all this because I still have a party to get to. He says there are two ways it could go down. One way would have me spending the weekend in real jail if I have a criminal history of any kind. I knew I’d be alright there.
The second situation has me sitting in a jail cell for a few hours while they process pointless paperwork, fingerprint and strip me of all freedoms for a few hours for funds. I would be ticketed and have to return for a court date. This is assuming that I have a clean record, I am a new york citizen and I didn’t have a lot of weed. Which is all the case except I had a New Jersey ID, to which he answered, “You may be in trouble.” He explained that they don’t give tickets and court dates to out-of-state residents.
I spent most of my time in my cell chanting “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” which is my buddhist prayer. It definitely freaked the guard out. I’m sure I’m also freaking some of you out now too but it really helped me to center myself, relax, and not stress or worry about my newfound confinement or the fact that I may end up spending the weekend in prison. I just determined that I wasn’t spending the weekend in jail for a clip and I just shared with him what I was doing and he kept it moving.
I’m not going to bore you with all the details of my four and a half hour stay in the prison but one highlight I had to share was that I found a paperclip on the floor and I scraped hailmaryjane.com in the wall while watching out for the guard. I didn’t want to pissed them off but I wanted to leave a mark. I only wish they didn’t take my phone so I could have taken a picture. Oh well. It’s there along with many other gang signs, “fuck the police” variations, and personal shout outs that were also indelibly carved into the wall.
Eventually they came and released me, gave me back all my stuff (except my joint and my lighter). I had to walk home and I missed the party.
This situation sucked but I feel like it definitely happened to me for a reason. I take responsibility for being cocky/stupid enough to just walk to the streets of Brooklyn as the cop in the car so poignantly shared when he said “Welcome to Bedstuy.” You can bet that won’t happen again.
It immediately makes me want to fight for marijuana law reform more than ever. HMJ has to be stronger than ever. We can’t allow this nonsense to continue into future generations. While they took their sweet time spending several hours of police manpower processing me like I’m a check at the bank, someone in Brooklyn was definitely getting robbed, raped, beaten up or worse. I say a prayer every time I hear a gunshot in my neighborhood which isn’t as regular as Bedstuy it was in the 90s but it happens enough that you know the danger is still there.
I am going to reflect deeply on this experience but in the meantime stay tuned to HMJ.
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