Monday, June 06, 2011

Fascism Exists For Punishment

Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They're going to destroy
Our casual joys
Hear me talk of sin
And you know this is it

Doors, Strange Days

Two Women Ticketed For Eating Doughnuts In A Brooklyn Playground

"It was a glorious afternoon in early June when I took a friend of mine, who was visiting from New Haven, to Dough, an amazing doughnut shop in Bed-Stuy. Dough is tiny, but there was a park across the street, where I, as well as other doughnut lovers, had eaten doughnuts before. My friend and I entered the park, sat down on a bench and ate our doughnuts. Having finished, we sat there chatting for a few minutes.

As we were getting ready to move on, two officers approached us. Amongst themselves they debated whether the children’s toy next to us meant that we were there with a child. Then they asked us, “Are you here with a child?” We told them no. One of the cops moved on to the couple on a bench nearby, also ostensibly childless, while the other one asked for our IDs. We handed them over and soon we were being guarded by this cop as his partner took our IDs to their police car. My friend and I were confused. We had seen parks with gates that had a sign clearly stating that adults without children were not allowed in. This park had no such sign.

When the cop that was guarding us asked if we had ever gotten summonses before, I asked him if he could show me the sign that alerted people to the fact that they were about to commit a violation by sitting on a bench. We looked at the sign together. “That? I’m supposed to read that?” I asked. He said yes. It was a list of about fifteen park regulations. You would have to be no more than three feet away from it in order to read it. It looked something like this. Except there were no bullet points. Would they issue a kid a summons for standing on the swings? Or an adult, in the company of a child, a summons for taking off her shoes? According to the violation we got, 1-03(c2), “not complying with park signs,” they could do that. Based on my experience, I actually think they would.

I got really angry and asked the officer if he honestly believed he was helping this community by giving us these summonses. His response only made me more angry. “I don’t believe in anything,” he said. “You don’t believe in anything? In helping people? Then you probably shouldn’t be a cop,” I said. This did not make him happy and he asked me, “Well, do you think you are being a model citizen right now?” I knew that I had to stop talking, that I was taking this too much to heart, that my poor visitor was getting more and more anxious, but I could not believe what was happening. “Do you think that being a model citizen means saying nothing when you see something you disagree with being done with your tax dollars? Because that is a model citizen in a totalitarian country.” He just shook his head at me. And at that point I did stop talking.

His partner returned. He had written two of the summons. We had been there for over twenty minutes now. He handed over our IDs to the cop that had been guarding us. Of course, they each had their own numbers to maintain so they were splitting the violations."


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