In August 2000, I started law school. About the same time that I started law school, an African-American co-worker of mine from the restaurant (who I liked a lot and always worked really hard at what was a really crappy minimum wage job) pled guilty to 1st degree reckless homicide and was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release. When his incarceration ends in November 2040, I will probably be a retired grandparent. I can’t guess what life will be like for my former coworker then. He and I are the same age and I have no idea how an ex-con in their mid-70s would find employment.
I was thinking of my friend today because I just got back from vacation and am catching up on the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri. In reading about the story, it reminded me that one day my friend and I were working and I described to him how early one morning the police had found me passed out against a tree in my neighborhood and had given me a ride home rather than arrest me. My coworker looked at me with incredulity and said “Adam, your dealings with the police are a lot different than mine.” He then described a number of incidents of what is now called driving while black.
I do not have any big thoughts to share about Ferguson but whenever there is a story about possible police misconduct, I wonder whether the dealings with the police that the reporter/pundit/blogger/internet commentator has had are more similar to mine or my former coworkers.