It ain’t easy being Indian… (April 2015)

By Ricey Wild
News From Indian Country

A few months ago my son Steve visited me and my friends at the Risky Raccoon Kasino Hotel where we were staying for a powwow. My son told us he got pulled over by a cop and my mother’s heart skipped a beat; I immediately thought he was being racially profiled and thoughts of all the recent slayings of unarmed black men by police made me catch my breath.
  
Steve pulled a copy of the report out of his pocket and showed it to us, it was a warning and then he said, “Look closer”. The police officer had checked the ‘white’ box where there was a choice for race. I looked at him, said “Whaaaaaat?” He was still pretty brown as far as I could tell, I mean I’m Native and his father is African-American so his being mistaken for white even though we also have French ancestors was rather a stretch. So I did what anyone would do. I laughed but since then I have pondered why?
  
Why? Why did he let him go? It came to me that police officers have to turn in their papers after each shift and perhaps the cop didn’t want his brethren to know he let an innocent brown man off with only a warning! I have convinced myself that was the why and wherefore because of the extreme racist atmosphere that is law enforcement culture. I add here I do not paint all police employees as being racist; instead I will let the glaring facts speak for themselves. My concern is not only people of color but anyone who takes up activism for the benefit of all People’s.
  
During the Ferguson protests I was disgusted to see all the military tanks, armored vehicles  and police not only dressed for possible riots but in full battle gear and gas masks to confront unarmed American citizens carrying signs and chanting against yet another murder by police. I was so mad when I saw the brutal militaristic show of force but I was worried too. What if the police began shooting people? Fifty years ago the Voting Rights Act was signed and now this after so many gave their lives for freedom and equality? I, for one, will not let them have died in vain for their efforts even if it’s only by writing.
  
Some years ago when I still lived in the Big City I got a call from my mother. The first thing she said was, “What did you do?” I said whattaya mean what did I do? She said, “Well there are a couple of white women in front of my house with some police who are asking for you. So what did you do?” My mouth fell open and I thought about the previous night. I had gone out to the club and came home and that was it. I said so to my mom and she said well we’re on our way up north.
  
Now, I didn’t earn the name ‘Wild’ for no reason but I was miffed that anyone including my mother would just assume that I had done something awful to warrant the police to look for me. IKR? So much for motherly love and understanding ennit? I went to lie down for a nap when I heard violent buzzing of my door speaker then loud rapping on my door. Jeez. I got out of bed, crept what I thought was silently toward the door and listened. I heard a man say, “She’s right behind the door” to someone else. I have four silver bracelets that I always wear so I think their jingling was what tipped him off. I said, “Who’s there?” “Police!” came the reply, “we just want to talk to you”. Like the most naïve of simpletons I opened the door knowing that whatever it was about I am innocent. Then…. (Cue ominous music)
  
There were two of Minneapolis’ finest in the hallway. The white cop asked me if anyone was home with me. Puzzled, I said no and in that instant he grabbed my wrists and pulled me out of my apartment. Grinning like a fiend he cuffed me up and hauled me to his squad car parked right outside. Once inside I asked “why am I being arrested?” I protested I had done nothing wrong…and on and on becoming more anxious and terrified by the second. This could NOT be happening, not to me! Then the nightmare continued downtown Under the Clock.
  
I was booked, had to strip in front of a female officer and was fingerprinted and I was bawling profusely all the while.
  
Sorry I have to wrap this up for now but I promise I’ll deliver the conclusion in May’s issue. My bad. Or am I?





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