July 10, 2020 by Darrius McCarty
Knowone To Call
In most black communities across the country and maybe even the world, we have no one to call when danger strikes. Who do you call when you are a victim of a crime? At that moment, how do you reach for a phone?
One summer night in Danville, Illinois, I had just come from the laundromat. I hate folding clothes, I don’t mind washing. Although this night in particular, folding clothes may have saved me. A few minutes later or earlier and I may have not been telling you this story right now.
I was the last one in the laundromat. The guy kept it open an extra 30 min for me. I tossed him a couple of dollars and left. On the way home I was frustrated, the mother of my kids and I had just had an argument before I left out. Usually I call ahead of time for Sherita to open up the door for me, but I was upset this time. Holding on to that anger almost cost me my life. I got out of the car and grabbed the white basket filled with poorly folded clothes. I walked to the door and sat the basket down. I reached in my pocket for my key. As I put the key in the door, I heard those sounds, those sounds that I thought were behind me now, sounds that were now unfamiliar to me. Boom! Boom! Boom! Three gunshots in a row. I was gone when the first one let off. I had on flip flops. A critical mistake. I was told young “never wear flip flops in the trenches”. Still, the way I leaped my four stairs you would’ve thought I was Usain Bolt. The jump was on point, beautiful even, but the landing was what happens when things go wrong. I fell to the ground so hard you would’ve thought gravity was the name of my evil stepmother. I thought I was done. I just knew he was approaching me. He was going to stand over me and unload his clip into my entire body. Right outside of my house, where my newborn and his mother were. That was how it was all going to end. Just not that night.
I got up. Both flip flops still attached and shot across the street to Mickey D’s parking lot. As soon as I reached the parking lot, I saw a Gold Van come out of my alley. It was the getaway car. I ran to the middle of the street as they passed and stuck up both middle fingers. I was blessed I hadn’t been hit once. I walked back across the street to my house. As soon as I approached the door it opened. Sherita was right there waiting on me with a big hug. She had heard the gunshots. She thought I was out there shot up. I told her I was fine and I had to get the laundry out of the car. When I walked out of the back door, there was nothing but clothes everywhere. I had tossed the white basket in the yard. I started to pick up the clothes. Moments later a flash light was bright in my face. It was the police.
Someone had called in the shots. The officer approached me, instantly treating me like I was the suspect. What are you doing back here? What happened? Question after question. Not one time was one of those questions, “Are you ok?” I told him I didn’t see anything. I said I heard gunshots, but I didn’t see anything. I just wanted to go in my home. Spend time with my family. The officer refused. He told me I had to stay and answer his questions. I told him no I didn’t. By this time there were four more police cars at the scene. They started to get loud and aggressive. There wasn’t a black cop in sight. There were about ten officers and all of them were white men. They were pissed, but I was pissed too. Someone had just hid in my bushes until I returned home from doing chores for my family. There is no telling how long they could have been out there waiting. I’m the one who just got shot at.
One officer reached for me, I jerked away. Another grabbed me and I slammed him to the floor with me. By this time Sherita was right there screaming and hollering. “Get off of him. He didn’t do anything wrong.” They started to taser me. The voltage had to be on max. To this day spurts of electricity just pops out of me from time to time. I was screaming. I was telling Sherita to go into the house. I didn’t want them coming to my home. We had our baby inside. I finally gave in. They cuffed me and roughed me up some more. They walked me over to the car and put me in. I knew I would bond out that night. I knew the charge would be a misdemeanor. I knew I had nothing to worry about. Still, for the first time in my arrest history, I cried in the police car.
I begged him to let me out. He even went to talk to the Sergeant, but to no avail. After all they roughed me up and that was the real reason I was going to the station. If they didn’t hit me with the smallest charge, I could file a lawsuit. I didn’t want to be in that car. I didn’t want to go to the police station. I wanted to go in the house and lay down. It was the first time I had been arrested since my son was born. I didn’t want to be apart from him. I was helpless. I had no one to call.
There is something about the police station, the county jail, and prison that secretly scares a man inside. You never know when you will go home. You never know when your next taste of freedom will be. You can go in for something minor and have to kill a guy or be killed over something small. The moment you are put into handcuffs, not only is your freedom at risk, but your life as well.
George Floyd, a 46 year old black man from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the latest in a long line of police brutality, white supremacy, and racist interactions by police. While cuffed and restrained, a police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for 8:46 seconds.The same way you would bow your head and kneel to give a moment of silence. But since when did a moment in silence become 8:46 seconds? Since when did a moment become forever . George had the right to remain silent, but he was forced to speak. He was forced to speak because Officer Chauvin’s knee was pressed up against George’s throat. So he screamed. He screamed, cried, and pleaded for the oppression to stop. Three other law enforcement officers not only stood and watched, but were accomplices as well. They pressed up against George Floyd’s back. Murder was happening right in front of their eyes and they refused to act. Law enforcement refused to enforce the law because this time the perp didn’t have dreadlocks, black skin, or wore a black hoodie. The perp had thin hair, a badge, and wore blue instead.
Who can we call? When the ones who swore to serve and protect us are the same ones oppressing us. Who’s going to make the call? When everyone is too busy recording on their phones instead of dialing out on them. Who can we call? George’s life has called out to so many across the world. This epic event has turned the world into a blazing beauty. There are protests being held, fires being burned, and hearts pouring out all over the world. With all the racial tension and class awareness in the world it uplifts my spirits and instills hope in me for the future to see oneness. People everywhere are not only saying black lives matter but showing black lives matter just as much as any life does. Black people have felt alienated in this country for too long. Until we see visible change, we will not buy into our oppressors propaganda, that race, class, and background does not play a part in the police’s everyday agenda to arrest, brutalize, or even kill unarmed civilians. I will not call for help. I will use my phone to defend myself, my rights, or my life. I have to! I have to! Because in the heat of the moment, life is on the line, with every phone in sight being used to capture a moment in history, no one ever makes the call. The call to police, the call to the victims family, or the call to stand up to the bully. I will fight, I will resist, I will make it home to my family at all cost. The truth is that in the heat of the moment, when life is on the line, there is no one to call. Only choices to be made.
The people want segregation
This piece was written during circle in our new program Into A Black Beyond. IABB is a digital reading & writing circle for Black Chicagoans…
Follow My Lead
I am already behind the power curve from an excessive mistake I made as a teen...this killing not necessarily greater than the recent others but…
A Letter of Gratitude
And yet, in both of these places ConTextos calls home where we work with those who are bearing the deepest wounds we find illuminating hope.…