Stay Safe, Chevy Man
To the black man in the passenger seat of the black Chevy on Cleveland Avenue in North Linden tonight:
I didn’t see what you saw that compelled you to jump out of the car, to put yourself into the situation on the sidewalk, I just saw the passenger door open in front of me, and you heading for the sidewalk, yelling behind my field of vision, demanding to know what was going on:
“What are you hassling him for? Hey! What are you hassling him for?”
Then I saw him, a white man in shorts and a t-shirt, coming for you, his voice moving my hand to the door locks.
“What am I hassling him for?”
And you: “Yeah, what are you doing to him? Are you a fucking cop or something?”
And him, moving toward you, louder now: “Yeah that’s right, I’m a fucking cop! What do you think you’re doing?”
That’s when I saw his badge around his neck and his partner heading for both of you. Right on the sidewalk by my car. Cargo camouflage shorts, baggy white t-shirt, tennis shoes. I didn’t see the badges. It’s dark at 10:30 at night.
I heard you again, but I didn’t make out much, because you were not loud, not demanding anymore, not protecting anyone but yourself. Hands up briefly, turning back to the car. Quickly.
Him following you: “You know what we’re doing? We’re fucking out here, trying to…”
As you got back in the car, him still yelling at you, face getting red. I saw the man then, the one you’d jumped out to protect, stagger a little toward the corner, no longer even a part of this scene. I’m guessing he was drunk, maybe? A little?
The light had turned green a while before, the driver of your car pulled you both away. The cop turned to his partner, guns on their right hips, the ones not facing the street before, and I thought: I’m so glad you got in the car. But I still didn’t understand why you got out.
I followed you through the light and replayed it all in my head. You’d seen something that looked aggressive by one larger white man toward a probably inebriated smaller black man, who was walking down the sidewalk. And you jumped out to protect him. A stranger.
And then as soon as you figured out you weren’t going to be protecting anyone—the same moment I did, I didn’t see their badges either, and ‘yeah I’m a fucking cop’ does identify you as a police officer, I guess—you backed off, got in your car and left.
No aggression, no “disrespect”, no nothing, but ten seconds before you were so forceful. I wonder what you saw him doing. What makes a man jump out of a car to defend a stranger like that?
I don’t know what I think about cops half the time, living where I do. I know some are upright and honorable, and some are aggressive and hostile. Kind of like men. And when I saw this guy, he seemed aggressive and hostile, even after all your words and body language were gone. I know about men, how some of them keep coming after you if you challenge them.
A few minutes later, as I turned down my street, I got scared for you, when you’re at least a mile away, but emotions do that sometimes, catch up to your thinking later.
I’m glad you jumped out when you saw whatever you saw. I’m grateful you’re home now.
Stay safe, Chevy man.