Imagine you own a store. You’re making ends meet. But due to circumstances where you fear for your safety you set up an occupancy limit.
Suddenly a horde of screaming angry people with five weapons apiece strapped to their bodies forces their way inside. You try to call the police but they tell you there’s nothing they can do, the men with guns have their rights and they will not be infringed upon. You don’t want all these people in your shop, you can’t keep an eye on all these people in your shop in case they have sticky fingers, none of these people in your shop are buying anything, and the people who might buy something are scared of the people in your shop. But even though they do not respect your property the police will not clear them out. They tell you to just try not to provoke them.
And so all day you’re surrounded by angry people with guns and afraid for your life. You can’t go home, you can’t shut down your business at the proper time because the people with guns won’t let you, they take it as you trying to “intimidate” them.
Finally they leave. The place is a mess but at least you’re alive. Then as you’re locking up the store to go home one of the lingering police sees you and demands you put your hands in the air. You ask what the problem is but they scream at you to be quiet. They demand to know what you’re doing. You try to explain that you’re locking up your store but after telling you to shut up again they tell you the store’s closed and accuse you of breaking in. You try to point out you’re the owner and show them your ID but you’re hit with a taser. The cop climbs on top of you, calling for backup. Then backup comes and they sit on you too. They drag you from the sidewalk to a car, then back again. They rough you up when your dead weight provides resistance but they pull out the taser again if you try to stand and walk with them when they move you.
Finally they take you in. You’re not actually being charged with anything but they threaten to charge you with resisting arrest. Beaten, bruised, and afraid you decide to keep it to yourself that you know this is not a legal charge if you’re not being charged with a crime at the time of your arrest.
You spend the night in the jail, without charge, surrounded by people you think are going to rape you. After you’re late to open up your store in the morning the police finally let you call your family who they never told they had you in custody and were worried you might have been killed. The police let you go but they keep your ID. Your family picks you up but without your ID you can’t drive the car. Luckily you can bus to your store and since you own it you’re not fired for missing work. There is yet another angry crowd in front of your store and they act like you had committed some great offense by not opening up on time. Exasperated you try to relay the story of how you got picked up for no reason and the police treated you like garbage… but they keep cutting you off and saying you should have just cooperated and calmly explained yourself. And just shut up, simultaneously, because speaking when not spoken to is giving the cops lip. Some stupidly even ask what you were doing out so late at night and said you should have been expecting to get stopped being out skulking in the dark looking how you do.
So after a day of that shit you can lock up at the proper time. You’re tired, your bruises are starting to ache, and your walk to the nearest bus stop is a long pained shuffle. But then a police car rolls up. The officer demands to know what you’re doing. You answer that you’re waiting for the bus. The cop scowls and his hand drifts to his gun. He tells you he doesn’t like the way you’re walking and demands to know what you’re on. So after a quick repeat of last night you’re in jail again and charged with loitering, manner of walking in the roadway, resisting arrest, and because this time you bled on government property destruction of said property.
And the next day is pretty much the same. People start talking about you getting picked up by the police so much and decide you’re a criminal. They don’t come to your store any more. You lose business, you’re afraid to call the cops when people make trouble in your store, and everybody gives you the evil eye. You eventually lose the store. You have to work for someone else now but the minute you mention the times you’ve been arrested that door slams in your face. Hiding it makes things worse. And the few times you have a slim chance you’re not no subtly informed that this is undeserved charity and you are gone the first sign of trouble. Knowing this your co-workers treat you like crap, you don’t get any training, they make your job harder. You then lose what jobs don’t rotate you out after your probationary period so they don’t have to take you full time because police keep stopping you and you’re late for work. This pattern continues and your quality of life spirals.
You can’t afford to have the driver’s license the police keep confiscating at nearly weekly shakedowns replaced any more. You can’t drive around limiting your options for work. You can’t vote either, because even if you save up your now limited income to try and make sure you have an ID ready for the election the process mysteriously stalls and there’s no guarantee it won’t just be taken away again on a whim even if you’re walking instead of driving. That which was easy before is now an uphill fight against people who act like just breathing the same air is taking something from them, personally, and they all act like you’re useless for not digging yourself out of this hole you find yourself in.
And those same people that barged into your store that first fateful day now all call the police at the very sight of you. They don’t know “what you’re up to” and they don’t have to prove you’re “up to” anything. You have to prove you’re not. Without “provoking” the police in the process. People treat you like shit on sight and you grow sharply aware of how quickly they resort to intimidation. There are even times people will pull a gun on you but if you talk about it everyone takes the side of the person who pulled the gun because you “could” have been a danger to them. But if you so much as raise your voice at someone you are treated as if you’ve just committed an assault and everyone acts like they were always right to expect trouble from you. The very idea of self-defense is now beyond your grasp - you are always considered the aggressor. Every day you’re afraid you’re going to die.
And everyone acts like it’s your fault. They tell you that you won’t have so many problems if you show respect, don’t provoke people, and make something of yourself. But it isn’t true. You’re on your best behaviour every day of your life? Nobody’s opinion of you ever changes and somehow they equate you with a petty criminal or vandal elsewhere and they expect you to bear guilt for their moral failings. They’re watching you for when you “inevitably” slip and they shut you down if you talk about good you do. You complain? You’re a nuisance. You keep complaining? You get called a criminal looking to undermine the country itself because he wants a handout he never earned. You get together with a group to complain? You’re equated with looters even though you haven’t been in a thousand miles of a riot and the people in the city should know that because you’ve marched with demonstrators in 400 different cities including your own without incident but they all talk about the riots. And unlike those people with small armories strapped to their bodies who overtook that almost forgotten store that now seems like a faraway dream the police are more than willing to drive you from the sight of good respectable business owners and law abiding citizens because unlike them, your right to protest is not recognized. Scum like you should be grateful to live in a free country.
Congratulations. You’ve just barely imagined living the black experience.