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Me, sketchy. Police, cool.

Was hanging out, breaking maybe 6 minor laws late at night. The policeman who came over was very cool about it. Pretty much typical, in my experience.
I read the other posting, "When is it ok to call the police?" I can't really empathize with that. I've only had good experience with the police in Portland. Last night was a good example;

I live in a funky commercial space on NE Alberta. People live above me, and nearby. Around midnight a friend and I thought it'd be fun to have an improvised jam session out on the sidewalk. So we brought out my upright bass, a bottle of wine, amplifier, a couple of stools, and a tall gothic candle for mood. :-) Oh yeah, also, my dog was sort of wandering around on the street while my friend sang (and she can belt it out), and I played bass.

So let's see - I've got the open flame on the street, open bottle of wine, dog offleash, and loud music at midnight. I see a police car pull up at the donut shop across the street. 10 minutes later a policeman walks towards us. We start a song for him (Frank Mills from Hair), and he was totally into it. He introduced himself to us - he's the leutenant for the area. I introduced myself, told him I live and work there. Eventually he got a call, wished us a good night and took off.

It was a good experience - but it was also the one I expected. I'm really into the community, and I look out for the neighborhood late at night. And this is how police have been with me - I'm respectful, and so are they. Duh! :-)

And even in this case - where we *were* being a little sketchy, I'd suppose. Of course, though, we *are* pretty good musicians - maybe that had something to do with it.

homepage: homepage: http://greenfabric.com

why. 11.Nov.2005 14:43


What is your motive for posting this, huh? Does the fact the police treat you good somehow negate how they treat the rest of us? It is not just you that gets away with breaking the law. It turns out that laws are selectively inforced.

For some reason you must feel like a commentary on our police somehow implies you? It may very well.

Here is a rhetorical question for the readers: What is the difference between the most likely white, arty boy playing music on Alberta Street and a cop who turns a blind eye? Are they on the same continuim? Could there be loyalties on both sides? Could it be that the presence of the one just reinforces the comfort of the other?

Maybe they both need to go.

LookDeeper 11.Nov.2005 16:14


Yeah, my guess is that you're also pretty white. Sorry if I'm wrong. Let us know.

One sad aspect of human nature is that our own experience defines the entire world for us.

why. 11.Nov.2005 16:35

circle A

What a great story, maybe I was wrong about the police all these years. I guess you just need to be a white, male, hipster to avoid punishment, harrasment and humiliation. I'm afraid the perspective of a white man who the law makes an exception doesn't really mean ANYTHING to the police debate. I don't know if you are aware what a jerk you look like right now.

hey, I talked to a cop and he didn't arrest me! 11.Nov.2005 18:15

it's pretty sad if this is news

Of course they're not out to get YOU. You're a poster boy for artsy fartsy gentrification programs.

Not toeing your line 11.Nov.2005 20:47

Watching from afar

The other comments captured the essence of your story, Mr. Stuart. Cops in Portland are remarkably lenient at times - if you fit into certain categories. I know. I've walked away from traffic tickets and other instances when I should have been arrested, like running right through a red light in front of a cop, because I was dressed nicely, spoke nicely and met the gender/race/age standards.
Surely you must know about the annual party at Reed College every year in the springtime. RenFair or some such hipster name. On the grounds of Reed College hundreds of youths, mainly white, upper class students, drink beer openly, smoke dope, run around naked, blow shit up and in general have a good time.
More power to them.
But an objective observer has to ask: What would happen if this were a similar group of Black kids in Northeast Portland? We already know the answer. The last time such an event happened the SERT team was called, people were shot with BB bag rounds, a riot was declared and the police pepper-sprayed a young Black woman and attempted to take her kids away. She had committed the crime of getting off the bus and trying to walk home.
Want to find out how much the cops really like music? Next time play something by NWA, or that Ice-T song about cop killing. Invite some of the people who have actually lived in Northeast Portland for decades. Hey, maybe you too will have the SERT squad coming over to visit you. When you're face down on the pavement, remind yourself that the white skin doesn't rub off.

likewise 11.Nov.2005 22:30


I always say about the same thing: Almost all my experiences with cops have been good.
Yeah, I'm an average white guy - but that's sort of the point, isn't it? How an average cop acts to an average citizen on an average night?
I've been pulled over multiple times for traffic infractions and never got a ticket. Once, a cop talked a security guard out of having me arrested for trespassing - even after he'd found a weed pipe in my pocket. A couple of years ago, a cop tilted the balance in my favor at a critical moment, sparing my car from being towed.
I definitely think my attitude toward them influenced the outcome of the situation.

And expressing my experience with them doesn't diminish other people's experience with them.

yeah 11.Nov.2005 23:40

victim #...

If I were to infer anything from the original post it's that he's young and sees significance in this simple act of civility and humanity that tells us nothing about the larger picture of law enforcement in the USA and should be the norm, not the exception. I happen to be a white male who comes from an irish civil servant type family. My dad was a fireman, my brother's a fireman and my cousins and a lot of my family's friends are cops. I saw and heard a lot of shit gwoing up in this world and have a special distrust/fear/hate for the institution of law enforcement as it exists in MY world in MY experience. I have had my head bashed against a wall and been knocked unconscious by police (puncturing my eardrum). I have been thrown in the back of a patrol car with the heat on MAX in the summer while the cops stood around showing off to each other for 20 minutes while I suffered and I have had my cuffs tightened around my wrists till my hands turned blue. All for challanging the authority of different cops (usually by just questioning their actions). I have also seen countless abuses of the weakest and defensless people in our society and witnessed acts of heartless indifference and contempt from police. I have also had some friendly exchanges and witnessed acts of courage and selflessness from cops as well, although the majority of my experiences have been nuetral to negative. So what does a cop not telling some guy to blow out his dumb candle in NE have to do with me or the next person to be victimized by the police?

oh, and 11.Nov.2005 23:51

victim #...

I really loath the snarky, smug tone of the original post and must note that you sound like an "ass kisser". Often what it takes to be treated favorably by any oppressor is submission.

thanks for the report 12.Nov.2005 03:52


It is very helpful to document all manner of police bias, both those they choose to target, even when those individuals are not breaking any laws, to those they choose to ignore regardless of the fact those individuals are breaking laws. It all helps demonstrate the realities of the police force: the better your perceived socio-economic standing, the more laws you can violate with impunity, and below a certain perceived status you will most likely be harassed or worse when you are just trying to go about your business. That's how it works and we need people to be documenting the range of abuses so that we can determine how to structure an effective set of checks and balances to compensate for police bias.

A side note: "One sad aspect of human nature is that our own experience defines the entire world for us." I don't believe this is human nature, just cultural indoctrination. Our culture tells each of us that I am the center of the universe and that I am right about everything and that I know something about everything. But one could also imagine a culture that does the opposite and encourages people to learn from the experiences of others. The experience here is important to learn for those that have not experienced it, that cops can be "nice" so long as you look a certain way just as they will attack people who look a certain way (or hold certain beliefs).

your mileage may vary... 19.Nov.2005 15:26


To the original poster: what a crock of crap! You really need to understand that while the majority may be GREAT and spiritually centered individuals on the Portland Police Bureau payroll, NOT ALL of them are "good people".

Without question, Police have a MOST difficult job. BUT- (AND)DON'T KID YOURSELF--the Portland Oregon Police Bureau has more than it's fair share of bad apples.

Unfortunately, when THEY act out they get vigorously defended with YOUR tax monies in court. AND-It is VERY hard for the average guy to prove Police misconduct when it boils down to "your word against theirs".

The situation when you go to court is you are AUTOMATICALLY branded a liar, while the out of control officer's fabricated testimony is regarded as GOSPEL.

Cops know this-- Hopefully YOU will never some day find this out firsthand should you ever be in a similar situation to what I am currently facing.

I was violently assaulted after(peacibly) submitting to being cuffed by a Portland policeman. The damage was permanent. He kicked me in the head while I was prone. I had to have my jaw wired for six weeks following the incident. The damage caused by my upper palate being kicked in has left my bite permanently and inoperably misaligned despite six weeks of my jaw being wired.

Due to the fact there were no direct witnesses- the officer remains on duty to this day. And I doubt if my medical evidence will be as compelling as his lying testimony.

I would not wish my ordeal on anyone. But after having personally suffered it, I now see some of the "ALLEGED events of Police misconduct" in an entirely different light.