A video recorded by his wife has been viewed more than five million times. It is not of Clarence playing in the yard with their children or him walking their dog. Instead, it is a video of Clarence being falsely identified, nearly handcuffed and arrested by a police officer.
He fits the description of a suspect… in Louisiana. But, he doesn’t live in Louisiana. This is not Louisiana. This is Texas. Where are we?
Where is this going? Why does Clarence have to follow where this officer leads? Why does Clarence have to trust his lead, his hunch and not his gut?
I’m sick, nauseated, afraid. I’ve seen this video before. I’ve seen this play out before. It doesn’t end well.
I want to watch his back. Walter Scott shot in the back while running away after a traffic stop. But, his death does not stop traffic. We follow the directions of the crossing guard and walk past him.
“Just relax.” But, I can’t because Eric Garner can’t breathe. My body is tense and I press my eyes closer to the screen.
I want to be there. I want to make a citizen’s arrest of this police officer. You are in his personal space and trespassing. “Get your hands off of him.”
The police officer has a warrant for his arrest. Who’s arrest?
“You know your name?”
“Tell me your name?”
Clarence refuses. His life is not a game. This is not a guessing game. There are not multiple choices. He has only one choice—make it out of this conversation alive.
Voices raised. Who has authority over his body? This is his body. Don’t touch his body. Shaky hands with a trigger finger.
Clarence doesn’t want to go anywhere with the officer. He fears he would be a dead man walking. “Calm down. This doesn’t have to be a show down.”
Bystanders say, “Just show him your ID and it will be over.” Amadou Diallo tried that. Reaching for his wallet, he was shot nineteen times. They thought he was suspected of rape. Dressed in plain clothes, they bloodied his.
The survey says, “Just go to his patrol car like he asked you.” But Sandra Bland did that and she didn’t make it home alive. Cop car turned hearse. Freddy Gray will tell you it’s a bumpy ride.
Know your rights. Clarence’s two rights still made him wrong. The law is not on his side. The law is in his yard trying to take him away from his family. Because the officer could not see him—as a man, as a husband, as a father– and not a suspect who fits the description of people that interestingly all look alike. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right?
Besides, you don’t need ID to see that Clarence is a fellow human being, right?
The supervisor with no supervision will write up the report. And you will read it and take his side… again.