F*ck the Police

I am working in the public library in the small town when an officer of the law enters. I try meditating on a bumper-sticker mantra, “No Enemy, No Enemy,” but the back of my neck is electric. The police have always made me afraid.

They have never been there to help when I needed them most, but when they get the chance, they make my life more difficult, over victimless crimes and misdemeanors, and laws that should neither exist nor be enforced. Sometimes they even invent laws on the spot, for the man with the gun and the bright lights is the law.

Because of undeserved privileges of race and gender, they have not physically harmed me, only occasionally taken my money or possessions or time or sound sleep. They inconvenience me. They slaughter others.

They do profile my kind, but to compare the way they profile my kind—wanderers, longhairs, evaders of jobs and fees—with the way they profile those they beat in their own homes and schools and gun down in the streets would be a real offense.

The officer of the law has entered the library because he thinks my car is illegally parked in the parking lot, because it is now after six. But the library is open til seven on Wednesdays, the librarian explains, so the car in the parking lot is allowed to be there.

“We’ve had some complaints,” the officer says. “The neighbors thought someone was sleeping in their car in the parking lot.”

“We do that sometimes,” says the librarian. “In our camper.” 

I didn’t do it (too exposed), but briefly entertained the fantasy (strong WiFi all night, Netflix & chill for one).

“Aren’t you scared?” says the cop, ostensibly to the librarian. But he is looking straight at me, sitting next to the Young Adult novels, charging the all the devices. I have never seen this cop before, but I have seen his crewcut, his radio, his bulk, his gun.

I am the type with with the thrift-store clothes but the expensive computer, dirt on the technical pants that are not exactly cheap, even at 40% off. I know he knows my uniform as well as I know his.

We are both studies in contradictions. I am the college graduate who plays at being a bum, and he is a professional bully, which means he must have once been the victim of one.

Aren’t you scared?

“We sleep in church parking lots,” shrugs the librarian. “You get less worried about things as you get older.”

“You’re braver than me,” says the officer of the law. “I’d be too scared to sleep in my car. I don’t know what I’d do in the middle of the night, if I saw someone’s face at the window.”

And meeting his eye, fighting the flare in my nostrils, I think, but do not say: “Oh, but Officer–the face I fear most in the middle of the night is yours.”

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