It happened on I-5, near Tacoma. That's him writing my ticket. IJEOMA OLUO


This is awesome. Makes me want to re-activate my LiveJournal page and write something really long. Thanks!
You did the right thing. I am on your side. The Police, Military, Government People are all more akin to the KKK and John Birchers than we will ever know. The KKK is spread across this nation and they are proud of being invisible. Be careful. If you have a white skinhead they don't bother you.
A brilliant piece of writing. Best thing I've seen on Slog in...well I can't even remember how long. I'm sorry you got the ticket, but grateful you shared your experience with us.
Ijeoma, if the speed limit was more than 55 miles per hour, you can have this thrown out. If the speed limit was 60, then your odds are better.

Radar and LIDAR are only accurate to plus or minus ten percent of the indicated display, so five miles an hour over is within the error range of the instrument. Ask to see the last calibration certificate for the instrument the officer used to determine your speed. If the posted limit was more than 55 mph, you most assuredly were stopped on a DWB. That you and your brothers are subjected to the danger of a cop with a loaded weapon because of a trumped up charge makes me sick. This has to stop. Perhaps a judge humiliating an officer in court might help.
I'm glad you are alive and safe. Fight the ticket, take an online driving class as a show of goodwill, and explain to the judge you didnt realize you were over speed, because you were within flow of traffic.
It isnt fair that you were singled out, but I'm happy you and your family were not harmed. No one should feel terror during a routine traffic stop.
This is a very sad phenomenon and I am really disturbed by the Sandra Bland situation. I really don't want to take away from your experience, but there is a stretch of I-5 in Tacoma where cops are just clocking people and waiting to pounce. I drove down there recently for a job interview and while using my GPS app Waze, I was alerted about police presence more times than I could count.
Silly me with no glasses on. Yeah, you have a case. Also check when you get the calibration certificate that the cert is not expired. If it is expired, the judge should throw it out then and there. But five miles an hour over the limit is with the error limit for the instrument. Good luck.
I guess my experience with police has been the opposite lately.

I have brought several complaints against apartment neighbors for nuisances and hazards including:

-Putting garbage on their back patios with sickening smells coming into my apartment
-Dogs barking loudly and incessantly as late as 2am in the morning
-Fumes that suggest meth use coming into my apartment
-Heavy laundry and dry cleaning chemical use, and heavy carpet cleaning smells (suggesting dumping into the apartment drains)

In all cases, the police rebuffed my attempts to lodge a complain saying they "had no power". In all cases the landlords themselves were skittish about making charges because of not wanting to harass tenants (especially in this, a "sanctuary" city). In one case, because English was not a second language, they had to make doubly sure the offending party even understood what was being asked! In all cases I had to yell, scream, research, and threaten to bring litigation to changes made and only after weeks of inconvenience.
#9 cont'd

And I didn't even mention all the Internet stalking and cyberbullying to which I've been privileged over the past 10 years.

I still don't know how to report it and to whom!
Wow so you got pulled over on I-5 for speeding. This is powerful stuff. Someone needs to alert the Pulizter committee for this searing indictment of our age.
I'm sorry you had to spend time in Tacoma. Nobody should have to do that. Such a sad little town with such sad people in it, a glass museum. The glass only reflects the sadness.
65 in a 60 zone and you got a ticket? That's sad. I tend to go sixty on the freeways and have people on my tail all the time and no cop ever pulls them over for reckless driving.
John Bailo Is The Dumbest MotherFucker On The Planet.
Fucking hell.
This white guy has driven the way you describe for 40 years without once being pulled over. And I've seen cops see me do it. I think almost any driver would tell you that its safer to go with the flow of traffic, even if it's slightly over the speed limit.

Well, almost any white driver.
Were you really going 5 mph over or did the cop actually do you a favor and reduce the ticket when you were going even faster ?

FWIW, I got a speeding ticket on I5 near Chehalis on a late-night return from Portland and the officer wrote the ticket for less than he clocked me.
If you had been going at precisely the speed limit while everyone else on the road was going 10 MPH faster, the cop would have pulled you over for looking suspicious (you must have something to hide if you're trying so hard not to break any rules) and cited you for not traveling with the flow of traffic. Sorry, you can't win. It's an injustice. The law enforcement system is corrupt from top to bottom. America is corrupt for tolerating this.
This happens. All the time. All over America. When I lived in lily-white Minnesota, I got pulled over on occasion for going 10 miles over the speed limit. When I moved to areas of the country with a higher African-American and Latino population (South Carolina, Cincinnati OH), never happened. I didn't change my driving habits one iota. The cops are just too damn busy harassing people of color to give me any mind.
I am a lawyer with a ton of experience with speeding tickets (I have, fortunately, left that godawful assembly line practice behind). Several points:

1. The margin of error for RADAR and LIDAR is 1-2 MPH, not 5 MPH like @4 is suggesting. See here (…) - that's the standard cover letter for the speed certs.

2. It is EXTREMELY common for troopers to write you up for less than they actually clocked you at. Troopers generally (not always, but generally) ignore anything less than 10 MPH over. I dealt with thousands of tickets while in that field, and I think I could count on one hand the number of freeway tickets that were for anything less than that (the game changes in school zones, obviously). If you request the report in discovery (see IRLJ 3.1(b) here…), you can see what he actually clocked you at. I would bet a lot of money you were going faster than 65.

3. It is EXTREMELY hard for troopers to see skin color when they're stationary and you're traveling at highway speed, and the much more likely scenario is that your car happened to be the one his RADAR locked in on. I get the point in your last two paragraphs, that this is about broader systemic issues in light of the Bland case and countless others, but going automatically to DWB, based on nothing other than the fact that you got pulled over and other cars didn't, seems like an unwarranted jump.
Try driving with a White adult female, while driving Black, and you are subject to obtain the same, or similar phenomena. I was driving on Aurora near the George Washington bridge aka Aurora Bridge, when, I noticed a obvious traffic police car. Charlie, I am the same kind of driver; I watch the speed a meter as if my life depended on it. I will kid you not drivers were passing me as if I were standing still, yet I was pulled over for speeding. And, no I was not going over the speed limit; I was driving with the flow of traffic in the inside lane. I went through all kinds of the personal emotional trepidations, because I recognized I was purposefully being ticketed, for having a White female in my automobile. She was my benefactor, and assisted me with purchase of the three(3)homes I owned in Seattle. There is no way to explain, how I felt; when I knew it was coming(the unwarranted ticket). because as a Black man you get to "know." I was hoping I could drive by the police car without being seen, but, it didn't happen. I saw him, before he saw me. Of course I did not look at the police car as we approached and passed him. Black shows up brightly on a hot sunny day in Seattle. I anticipated what might happen, and I told/expressed to Marge as we drove along. Believe me, it is rather frightening, to know it's coming, and I could not do anything about it. But hey, it is the vicissitudes of life, for a Black man; especially driving with a White female in the passenger's seat. Yes, I fought to ticket, and it was dropped.
Bummer. But pay it and then go on with more important things in your life.
Liberals never see the irony:
Keep voting for more government.
Keep getting more government.
Then complain about the effect.
This is really getting absurd. This should illustrate:

A black woman, a gay man, a MTF transsexual, a Rabbi, a Priest, an undocumented Latin American immigrant, a white suburban executive, a Mullah, and a white supremacist with a confederate flag decal are all exceeding the speed limit and a cop has to pull over at least one to enforce the law and, in turn, serve as a warning to other speeders. Whom of these should NOT receive a ticket and just a warning?
Thank you, @22, for that soothing balm of reason and competence.
Now let's see Mudede write about his experiences being pulled over for DWB and compare and contrast his pretentious and impenetrable writing with your thoughtful and articulate prose.


@25: Excuse me, it's conservatives that simultaneously complain about high taxes and whine that social services (at least, the social services THEY like) are underfunded. Nobody here is arguing that speed limits shouldn't exist, or shouldn't be enforced; rather, it is the 14th Amendment-violating unequal application of laws that is being contested. If you're too stupid to understand that, well, that's a dayum shame.

That makes no sense on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin.
She admits the cop had a reason to pull her over. This is not "driving while black." This is grasping at straws in search of outrage clicks. This wouldn't even pass the "is this journalism" test in a 200 level class. She plays up Aham's interactions with the police like he should've been in legitimate fear. Aham is a big lanky tree of a guy and whiter than Will Smith. They were on the side of I-5 in traffic. Nothing was going to happen.

Assuming this cop was double checking people's skin color while he was aiming his radar gun, they got picked on for a traffic ticket for their skin color and that sucks, but pleeeeease with acting like this was a legitimately fearful situation. They were in a bunch of bullshit but you were not in danger. They may be black but they're still black in metropolitan western Washington. Traffic cops don't flinch and shoot brothers in broad daylight. SPD is racist but give them some credit, we don't live in fucking Alabama or something.
I wish I had something more useful to say than I'm sorry. That fucking sucks, and I hope you have a) a case against this bullshit and b) the will and energy to follow through on challenging it.

Otherwise, I did want to say congratulations on your expanding family. I can't think of people I want to see hang out more than your pre-existing family and your new sister-in-law.
Speaking as a white man who believes he can drive up to 9 mph over the speed limit on the freeway and not be pulled over, and has tens of thousands of miles on his odometer that support that theory, I agree that this ticket is bullshit. Five over the limit is some podunk speed trap shenanigans.
Two thoughts by a white dude for Ijeoma Oluo:

1) (Before anyone gets all pissy at me, read #2) If anyone should be safe from spurious traffic stops, it should be me, yet I've been pulled over in similar circumstances. It didn't seem fair at the time to be pulled over for doing what everyone else was doing, but I didn't have an bias explanation to hang that suspicion on, so I had to let it go as one of those things. Considering how hard it is to see drivers through the windshields of oncoming cars, considering that you were speeding, considering that the cop may not be biased, perhaps you should consider the idea that the stop was random and/or justified. You'd probably sleep better.

2) Once pulled over, my sympathies completely change to your side. As a white dude, I can talk to a cop with very little fear for my life. Non white people don't have that luxury. You have a completely legitimate and rational fear that even if you behave "perfectly", if everything doesn't go perfectly during a stop, you might end up dead. It's outrageous and it's unfair. Black people shouldn't be scared of law enforcement, and even worse, black people shouldn't be right to be scared. We've got to reform how policing works in this country, particularly our habit in Seattle and beyond of hiring to our police forces the lowest common denominator, barely functional, power drunk, country boy type. We need to hire a police force that looks more like our city politically, culturally, and racially. And we need to fire cops who misbehave on the first infraction. Cops need to be head to a higher standard.
So well written. Engrossing. Powerful. Intense. I could feel the fear and discomfort. Maddening.

If it was me or you driving with the flow surrounded by a bunch of other vehicles also traveling at the same rate of speed - and WE were singled out for a stop, we'd be grumbling and muttering "bullshit" under our breath, not fearing for our very lives. Because, you know, how often do you hear about White people being pulled from their cars, beaten, tazed, thrown in jail or shot in similar circumstances?

The point isn't that the LEO didn't have a reason for the stop, it's a Black person's quite reasonable apprehension at what might happen AFTER the stop that's the point of this story. Her passenger DID have a legitimate fear of how the interaction might play out, because he's either seen, heard, or perhaps even personally experienced it, something you or I will almost never have to worry about. It doesn't make any difference if he's in Seattle instead of Prairie View or New York or Beavercreek or wherever; he's Black, the cop is White, and White cops are killing Black people all over the fucking country these days - often, as we are seeing on an almost daily basis, for no reason whatsoever, and frequently for far less reason than the White people who present far greater danger yet who somehow manage to come through completely unscathed.

Seriously, how many examples of the difference between how White people are treated versus how Black people are treated in these situations do you need to see before it starts to sink in?
Yeah, no, to all of the "move on" and "so you got pulled over for speeding, you deserved it" comments - no. This piece is about the terror after the traffic stop and the horrifying realization by the passengers that exercising their right to ask questions or simply following the cop's commands too eagerly might mean they don't get home alive. Many white folks on the Internet have a shocking affliction for justifying police violence by the fact that they might be interacting with someone who violated a law when they get violent, as if only valedictorians should technically be safe. Continue on your moral fucking high ground by all means, if you've never gotten away with 5 MILES OVER (every day?).

Seems to me the immediate solution to keep black people alive in cars is to institute a white chauffeur program. I'd like to offer my services on Thursdays and Sundays.
You can ask why, in court, but I get the feeling that this is another made up story. It may well have happened but not as described. I just don't believe it; it is too contrived and too convenient to other related stories.

So, the notion that "this happens all the time, therefore this one example must be made up" doesn't strike you as just a tad, well, dissonant, cognitively-speaking?

Hm, Yogi Berra is still alive, so reincarnation is clearly out of the question...
Thank you, @22.
I think before you say anything about what's related in this story, you should watch the video of the cop pulling Bland out of the car and threatening her, and watch it over and over. You don't even have to know what awful thing happened after that to understand how blacks feel when cops pull them over.
O.k. ticket stories ... as a driver, I've been pulled over in two situations, that seemed highly unfair. Didn't fight the tickets; it didn't seem worth it either time. One was for going 5 miles over the speed limit in a 25 mph zone in Bellingham where people regularly drive 40 -- and it was a 100 dollar ticket. I happened to be the lucky person they decided to target probably for the first and last time ever. Because I've never seen anyone stopped there. Of course, I didn't have one of those expensive Bellinghamster vehicles that do it all the time. They had to single me out in my older car. And as someone who's a bit ... different, shall we say.

I was also with some black friends once, many years ago - not the driver, but one of the passengers - this wasn't in WA state - and we were stopped "driving while black" and interrogated by this backwards-type cop (we weren't down south, but he was a little like the stereotypical southern white cop) and in a very isolated rural area at night. It was scary and clear that he was motivated by racism; he really "put the grill" on the driver, and it was just awful. And I was "vibed" like I was some kind of "immoral woman" because I was "running around with blacks" and it was in the middle of the night (we were all very respectable too - it's just what was going on in this individual's disturbed mind - very obvious). To make a long story short ... we hadn't been doing anything wrong vehicle-wise .. and there was ultimately no ticket .. and we were all hyper-vigilant about our behavior throughout ... but we were basically told to get out of the area. And another time, traveling actually in Europe with friends - not doing anything wrong - and we were pulled into the police station because one friend was a young black man. So we were interrogated by these racist European policemen for "traveling while black" or "traveled while in a mixed group" in Europe.

A female friend - not African American - was stopped in New Jersey for driving while female and by herself. She wasn't speeding and the cop told her he wanted a sexual favor or he'd give her a ticket. She told him to forget it and instinctively just hit the gas - "burned the rubber," as they say, and tore off. He didn't pursue her vehicle further, TG.
Long ago when Issaquah was tiny the cops would set up shop just to wait for the Mexicans to get off work and get on I-90. This was about 1999.
@36-COMTE--Seriously, how many examples of the difference between how White people are treated versus how Black people are treated in these situations do you need to see before it starts to sink in?


This was powerful. Ijeoma, thank you for sharing your experience. I am so sorry and furious that people of color have been subjected to this for so long and the rest of us are only now, thanks to vid cams and phone cams, beginning to get it. How awful to feel this way at a traffic stop.

And people, even if the cop didn't know they were black when he stopped them, how can you not be outraged that a subset of our population has good reason to feel this way at the most basic interaction with police?
@36: How condescending you are. You equivocated crime and punishment solely based on liberal while guilt to pay your desperate allegiance to the black community whom you feel so overwhelmingly eager to appease. If only to set yourself apart from your other "not-so-enlightned' social circle so that you can claim the mantle as being the most progressive and racially sensitive to grace the inspiration of MLK. But, my dear, you got it all backwards.
News flash for you COMTE, the african american community needs not superficial validations from you as were are are all ONE society, black and white, brown, and every other adjective that makes up our wonderful human world. The african american community learned that lesson long ago, so should you.

5 MPH over the speed limit??? That is a chickenshit ticket. This was DEFINITELY a DWB.
White people have to go at least 10 MPH over the speed limit to get a ticket.
I'm with Robby! I'm white and typically drive 7 MPH over the limit. Never had a problem.
By any chance is the author of this story very young looking.

Maybe the officer suspected an underage girl was being kidnapped by two "pimps" for illicit purposes.

By asking for her license he could confirm her age.
I am a white dude, who often travels I-5 with my cruise control set to 5 miles over the speed limit.
So far I have not received a ticket. That said, getting a ticket for doing 5 miles over the speed limit, when the speed is 60 is ridiculous. I believe Ijeoma was pulled over for DWB.

I also applaud the article for describing what goes through the mind of a person of color when being pulled over by the police.
John Bailo Is The Dumbest MotherFucker On The Planet.
I'll still think the story is bogus; it is long an emotional wind and short on details. Just about all of the facts are vague with only a partial view of the citation. Why not show the whole ticket (with the personal information, address etc. blurred out). Was it a local municipal policeman, sheriff, or state patrol? The Stranger seems to embellish a lot of stories that show up just in time to support their editorial viewpoints (hatred of the police, hatred of people who drive cars instead of bikes, hatred of anyone with money). I've gotten tickets before and it is upsetting, it is easy to feel singled out as an excuse. I've been there.
I think people are missing the broader message in this article. The author admitted that she didn't know whether or not she was actually pulled over because she was black. One of the final lessons my father gave my brothers and I before we were handed keys to the car after learning to drive was how to behave when we were pulled over. No sudden moves. Keep your hands visible at all times. Ask for permission to retrieve you license and registration even after you are told to do so. Let the officer know what you are doing. "I'm going into the glove box to retrieve my registration. I need to go into my purse to get my wallet. Is that okay?" Be compliant. Appear docile and non-threatening. Don't raise your voice. Don't argue. After you retrieve license and registration, put your hands back on the steering while or in your lap and don't move a muscle unless asked. Don't give him any reason to shoot you. Don't raise your voice. Say yes sir and no sir. Don't drive with more than 3 people in your car (as teenagers, young adults) Do what you must to get out of the situation alive. It sounds over the top and exaggerated. But as a 44 year old female without so much a speeding ticket the fear of police violence is real. I could completely relate to what she was saying. These were things that were ingrained in us for as long as I could remember. Whether or not she was pulled over because of the color of her skin is not the issue. The fact that she didn't feel it would be safe to ask why is the point.
I think its entirely possible that this was not a case of DWB, however that should not be the point. While Ijeoma admits she doesn't know for sure, neither does anyone who thinks it was not. But all of us who have ever been pulled over in a routine traffic stop and felt annoyance, frustration, but nothing resembling FEAR, should listen to what she is saying and ask ourselves, how would we feel if these were our thoughts in a traffic stop?

I have received one speeding ticket ever and the circumstances were interesting. I too was in the middle of a pack of cars on I90 and when the speed limit changed from 70 to 65, a cop pulled out behind us and 6 or 7 cars pulled over to the side. He then cruised slowly along the shoulder looking into each car. My passengers and I were 3 scruffy looking college guys and the cop very deliberately chose us to pull in behind us. He waved all the other cars back onto the road and then proceeded to give us a pretty thorough interrogation and eventually a speeding ticket. I've always assumed he chose us as a combination of appearing the most likely to have something else going on besides speeding, but also because we were young and in a beater of a car so we probably had less recourse to defend ourselves against any over-policing on his part. I have always been struck by a couple things: 1. I am certain if there had been anyone of color in any of the other cars, we would have been sent on our way with the other drivers. 2. Even though we felt like we were being singled out, we were never afraid. I was irritated at the cop, but not once did I even consider the possibility that this encounter would harm me in any way. I was not conscious of it at the time, but the shield of me and my friends whiteness made us feel very safe and secure.

So, now you've been appointed Official Spokesperson for All Black People In The United States, duly granted the authority to tell everyone else what they think? Was there an election or something I missed? A memo perhaps? I'm sure there would have been some sort of announcement from the NAACP or The SPLC, or at least the Black Panthers, surely.

I mean, seriously, talk about condescension: you, a conservative White male telling others what Black Americans want or don't want. Simply hilarious!
I have only gotten one speeding ticket on I-5. It was the one time that I decided to ignore my rule of only going up to 10 miles over the speed limit (5 on city streets). When I got pulled over, the cop straight-up told me that they pretty much ignore everything 10-miles over the limit and under. He wrote my ticket for 10 miles over the limit.
With all due respect get over yourself. You were speeding and got a ticket. You were "going with the flow of traffic" which means you were going faster than the 5 mph ticket you received. I'm so tired of us blacks using the race card for everything that happens. Man up and be accountable. I'm black and have received several tickets.... I was speeding.
I have never even heard of anyone being ticketed for less than 10 mph over the speed limit. Maybe that's because I'm white. I'm certain you are right that it was racially motivated. 5 mph?! Really!?
But it's far worse that you have to be afraid for what should be a routine stop.
@57 I'm surprised a "black" person such as yourself would completely miss the point of the article.
@9 & @11 - Rightly or wrongly (I can only opine), people who call repeatedly about every smell and creak will sometimes be dismissed as likely to be mentally ill--suffering perhaps from borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia, neither of which seem all that outlandish a possibility in your case.

And being insulted when you post incoherent, confrontational, or off-topic comments throughout the internet doesn't really amount to cyber-bullying, however unhelpful such insults are.
Okay, everybody, @61 says he's a white guy who's been ticketed for speeding on multiple occasions, and that proves there's no such thing as institutional racism in Law Enforcement. Time to shut down the Internet and go back to reading books or doing crossword puzzles for entertainment, because he's settled the matter once-and-for-all.
Everybody here seems to think criticisms of this article are "she's lying, it didn't really happen this way."

Ijeoma isn't a dishonest writer, she's a cheap shilly writer. She writes about her strong feelings in not-that-strong situations. It's not journalism, it's paid blogging.

Not-that-strong to you and I perhaps, but given the overall theme about which she's writing, what makes you think her "strong" feelings AREN'T justified? Oh, wait. Let me guess. You're White, aren't you? Nevermind.

And SLOG is a...come on, say it with me...
@55: Why do you assume I'm white? I've never mentioned my race on Slog.

Why should I assume you're NOT? Everything you post sounds like the rantings of an angry, conservative, middle-aged white guy. Besides, if you WERE Black, I'm sure we would have heard about it a long time ago, because how could you not resist throwing that in everyone's face here?

But, if you want to prove me wrong, all you have to do is post a verifiable picture of yourself.
This is something you could have easily fixed.

You could have lived in a rich neighborhood and had your white limo driver drive instead, and only have white brothers.

The headline does a disservice to intent and content of the article. Why not just say that you don't know if you were targeted due to race and then discuss how terrifying the experience was? The your perspective of the encounter was legitimate and your fears are legitimate. So why isn't that meat enough? Did the Stranger's editors ignore this clickbait headline or punch it up themselves? Either way, that's some cynical shit. Stop proving your critics right.
@67: So noted, but I'm not angry. My BP is very low. Just sad and frustrated how portions of our society are deteriorating.

What you reactionaries call "deteriorating" the rest of us call "progress". But hey, keep up with the Hygroton or Aldactone, or whatever the cheap generic equivalents are - you might just live long enough to see things change for the better.
@70 Addendum:

And by that response, I take it I was correct in that you are NOT in fact Black. Just pointing it out for the record - and for future reference, of course.
I should have stated that I was referring to race relations in regard to deteriorating. They certainly are getting worse over the past few years or is it just that we're aware of it more?
Cops are ass holes. But don't complain. As a brown middle eastern we get some of that shit plus the terrorist shit. You guys are lucky at least white chicks find you exotic, we don't even get that! But I'm glad I'm still treated way better than my own country by cops.
That officer looks really, really tan or a shade of brown and it appears your first comment about it was "DWB" and not prompted by your friends.…

Duh. It's been how hot & sunny around here the past couple of months? I've got a good "trucker's tan" going on my left forearm too from resting it on my window ledge while I drive, and I'm about as White as White can be. Imagine how dark it might get if you were to spend a large part of your day parked along the side of a busy freeway?
@73: "They certainly are getting worse over the past few years or is it just that we're aware of it more?"

Well SOME people are aware of it more, but this is nothing new. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was established in 1966 to respond to police brutality and almost all of the "race riots" of the late 60s were in response to episodes of police brutality (today is the 68th anniversary of the start of the Detroit riot). Cities fucking burned.

And for twenty years now academics, epidemiologists, drug policy reformers, and black people having been calling out the New Jim Crow: the unbelievable and unexplainable (to some) racial disparity in drug arrests.

So, no, things have always sucked. What is new, in case you haven't been paying attention, is that everybody and their sister has a video camera on them. And large numbers of police cars have dash cams. And, increasingly, cops wear body cams. And, suddenly, everybody's noses are being rubbed in the steaming pile of shit that is policing of black America. Denying the undeniable is no longer viable.

And with the exception of a relatively few, people are fucking disgusted. And now that WHITE people are disgusted, maybe we'll finally get some change.
Other people have troubles with the police, but there's definitely a qualitative difference if you're black. I was certainly a bit scared when I was pulled over in Bellingham because it didn't seem kosher what this officer was doing. And I didn't get into anything with him. I just wanted to get on. But when I was with my friends in this other story, years ago, I had this feeling like one false move and this cop could pull out a gun. Because you can see that the officer doesn't have his head together, to begin with, it's unpredictable and he's armed.

In my other ticket story, where it was also highly unfair .. more like hippie persecution .. it was in the southwest, in that situation, I was driving in this desert, going about 60, and this town was all of a sudden "there" with an instant speed limit sign of 35 or something like that. So I hit the brakes and went down to 40 very rapidly, then the speed limit, but I couldn't decrease fast enough, and I was about 5 mph over the speed limit for a few hundred feet past this instant speed limit sign. Then, we're continuing through the town, which is completely empty of inhabitants and other vehicles - it's almost like a ghost town -- there were no other cars and no people at all. Then, almost on the way out, this cop comes out almost nowhere, and pulls us over. And you could see that this cop lived for this,every day, of what must have been his boring life out in this tiny southwestern town in the middle of nowhere. So, he goes on this spiel about "you came into this town too fast and were driving over the speed limit" - and this is already something that happened about 15 minutes ago ..? Then, he writes me a ticket for going about 5 mph over the speed limit and it's over a hundred bucks. And, he wants us to pay up immediately. I objected, in this situation, and tried to debate him, and he was like, having the time of his life dong this .. "well,, ha-ha, if you don't like it, you can certainly wait around here another 8 hours in the 100 plus heat in the middle of nowhere" (we were on the road and it was first thing in the morning) .. of course he knew we weren't going to sit around for another 8 hours to go to what had to be this rinky dink kangaroo court, probably with a judge just like him, and in the hopes of fighting their stupid ticket - or we'd have to write him a check right then and there since we were from out of state. Anyway, while there was this question about him singling us out as unconventional types, he also probably did this to many drivers all the time, hanging around their rinky dink surprise speed limit sign in the middle of the desert, then trailing the motorists, then jumping them, near the town limit on the other side for their ticket money. But this cop didn't even hide what he was doing. He was basically the equivalent of highwayman hold-up. And I'm an excellent driver, always have been. So, for those of you who think police are all angels, you're living very sheltered lives on that.
I'll tell you guys another story .. you think these authoritiess are so on the level. Another time (I've traveled a lot and I'm older), I was with a non-American companion, and we unfortunately decided to take a southwestern car route that ran parallel and quite close to the southern border. This was many years ago before immigration was becoming such a hot topic as it is today. . Well, we came upon a military/police type of road block (I forget exactly which group - but it was highly militarized). They were looking for human smugglers and we were driving a van. They had this intense spolight in our faces, and looked in the van. It was incredibly tense, and there was this feeling like your rights were just evaporating. Through it all, though, we were quite silent. And partly because my friend had a very thick accent and we knew - almost telepathically - that if they started hearing him speak, we were going to run into a whole range of issues, despite the fact that he had legal status. It was just going to get worse and worse. Rationality wasn't going to matter. He asked me "What's your nationality?" And I said, "u.S." then he turned to my friend, and we were both just flipping out about this, and said the same thing, "What's your nationality," and I hear him carefully enunciating, as little as possible, and as much like myself, "U.S." -- and he pulled it off without an accent. And actually the guy is going, "U.S. right?" THen he waved us on. But it was fairly grim there for a number of moments, and in another way from when I was with my black friends in another state, but still, very, very serious. The militarization and the sense that, as soon as we were in this situation, our rights just rapidly evaporating. It can happen that quickly. Your democracy vanishing like that. We would see that even if you were legal, it wasn't going to make a difference. Everything would down a different path at that point if they knew 1 person wasn't American. So 2 syllables made all these difference. If he had tried to say American, the story would gone a very different route, since he wouldn't h ave been able to pronounce it without a thick accent. The evaporation of right, though, at that moment, still in the United States -- but it was freaky. And how fast it happened.
I don't know why everything has to turn into a racial thing. You were speeding. End of story. I won't deny there are racial crimes and some of them are committed by cops. But you are putting EVERYTHING in a pattern that has nothing to do with it. Mixing puzzles does not mean all the pieces fit together.

Only a White person would make such naive a statement. Any person of Color can tell you that practically every waking moment of their lives is a "racial thing", mainly because so many White people tend to turn just about any interaction they have with a non-White person INTO a racial thing, even when we're not consciously aware of it. Just thinking to yourself "how can I NOT make this a racial thing" turns the situation into a racial thing by virtue of having to even self-monitor your own words or behavior when around non-White people. It's something we do all the time, and I'm pretty sure most people of Color can tell when we're doing it, even if we think we're doing it for their benefit.
I assumed everyone, regardless of race, feels that way (and mumbly nervous) when they get pulled over by a cop. I'm a very white dude, and all of those things go through my mind, like make sure the officer can see my hands at all times, don't say anything but "yes sir" or "no sir", and never, for any reason, get out of the car. As a pre-teen, I think my dad gave me this talk about 10 times...and we lived in a very PNW mono-racial suburb. I wouldn't even consider posing a question or taking my hands off the steering wheel from the 10 and 2 position (unless, of course, asked to do so). Taking it up even 0.00001% of a notch with the cop on the side of the road is just plain stupid, that's what court is for.

The problem is that cops - even good ones - push the envelope all the time when it comes to abusing a citizen's Constitutional rights, and the last thing they want is someone who KNOWS their rights and has the temerity to say so, because that's an obvious challenge to what they view as their Absolute Authority To Do Whatever The Fuck They Want. Time and again, courts have thrown out citations and convictions because a cop crossed the line, and police departments have clear guidelines and policies on these matters; which all too often get thrown completely out-the-window as soon as said cop is back on the beat. That is simply intolerable.

I certainly get your point about "that's what court is for" and I agree that's an appropriate venue for dealing with cops who can't or won't follow the law and respect the rights of the citizens who pay their salaries. But in this day-and-age, where cops are under almost constant surveillance, either by their own devices or by the public's, this flagrant, egregious abuse of authority cannot be, should not be, and will not be passively accepted any more. Law Enforcement's first and foremost priority is "to protect and serve"; half the departments in the U.S. have that as their expressed motto. Any cop who cannot take those words - and their implicit meaning - to heart, should simply not be wearing the badge and uniform, and it is our duty to call them out whenever, wherever they transgress. They've been getting away with it for too long, and it has to stop. But, the only way it WILL stop is if we continue to challenge their "absolute authority" when they are clearly - and often knowingly - in the wrong, and make them suffer the consequences.
@84 I salute your idealism, in a truly non-sarcastic way. However, I'm a hardcore pragmatist, and it seems like 100% of them time the cop is going to be the victor in any sort of traffic stop game of wits (even if you're the one with the best 'wits'). So, knowing the house always wins, I will do anything that I can to shrink my threat footprint to zero. It would be crazy depressing if there wasn't a way to judicially deal with this, but since there is, I figure any possible constitutional abuse can be examined later. It's not worth having your day fucked up, or worse...


It's easy for White people to take that kind of "I'll be cool and let the judge sort it out later" attitude, but given the penchant for cops to KILL Black people well before they ever get that opportunity, regardless of how much they may try to "shrink the threat footprint" at the time, it doesn't seem like they have all that much more to lose (if the odds are they're going to lose their life anyway) by directly challenging authority, putting it on video, and getting it into the hands of someone who can perhaps do something with it in the (unfortunately, rather likely) event the situation goes completely south and they don't survive the encounter.
Bitch, please! You don't even look black. Your skin is almost as white as mine. I wouldn't even know you were black unless you told me. What a load of crap. I'm sorry the media has made you think that there's a conspiracy against you when there's not. You were speeding. You were pulled over and got a ticket. Big deal. It happens every day and it has nothing to do with your skin color. I'm so sick of articles like this. it's utterly ridiculous and a waste of everyone's time.
Give me a break! You were speeding and got a ticket. It doesn't matter if you were going only 5 mph over the limit. You were going FASTER than the speed the limit and got a ticket. I'm getting sick of people constantly playing the race card and fueling these ridiculous anti-police and "everything bad that ever happens to me is because of the color of my skin" movements just to get a few clicks on a BS article or a few likes on their hate-filled facebook page. What gives you the right to pick and choose which actions, either for or against you, are racially motivated? Does being black somehow give you the right to go faster than the posted limit? Yes, most of us go faster than the limit, but most of us are breaking the law by doing so. We are all playing russian roulette, so to speak, when we decide to travel faster than the posted limit, and you happened to lose this time. Get over it! You don't deserve any sympathy for getting busted for breaking traffic laws. And for that matter, you got pulled over, while breaking traffic laws, and you imply the officer is racist? Who's the actual racist in this situation? Is it the person who was doing his job and issued you a ticket? Or, was it the person who, with no actual evidence of the officers' character, makes an assumption that he is a racist? Hmm, my gut gives me a fairly clear answer to that question.
I ABSOLUTELY believe you were pulled over for being black, and I am the type to question a lot of mainstream beliefs about privilege. This is beyond obvious though, sorry you had that experience.
Wonderful stories by all, I feel lucky to have read at least 150 words of this thread. Will someone please consolidate these comments into a convenient eBook, so I can buy it on amazon for $.07?

PS dumb tickets happen to everyone, even the intelligent. Get the fuck over it.
So they pulled you over for five over. Big deal. I've had the exact same thing happen to me three times over the last twenty years. Twice, the issuing officers were white. But the third time, in Bremerton, the officer was black!

Guess I better post a racist, hate mongering piece on a second-rate newspaper site. Maybe it will get picked up by KOMO, and I, too, will have a few seconds of face time on local television.

Or, I could make better use of my time, and not be a hate-mongering racist.
So sick of the race card being pulled again! White people get speeding tickets too! You don't hear that on komo news. Hope that made you feel better that you got five minutes of fame. You were speeding and got a ticket for it, imagine that. I can't even believe this made the news, you should be ashamed. Get over yourself and let's move on from "it's cause I'm black. " That's getting really old.
@81 - where in the article does it say anything about the race of any of the other drivers who were nearby when the author was pulled over? You have no idea whether some or all or none of them were white, and yet you make a judgment without any facts to support your assertions based on your opinion.

In other words, you're doing exactly what bad cops do.
You are one puerile chick! Your outrageous diatribe is worthy to be printed only on my toilet paper and only after I've wiped my soiled inner buttocks, and my puckered orifice back there, after having indulged excessively in very spicy Indian Cuisine!

You did make me chuckle heartedly though, and for that I am grateful as it's been quite a day. To read a clowns whining ended it perfectly.

Grow up.
Late to the party, but I'm hoping my little story may help those of you missing the point of this piece.
The author and I are very similar in most regards. High level of education, fairly comfortable financially, female and adult. But she is black and I am white.
I drive the same freeways she does and habitually do so 5 to 10 miles over the posted speed limit. For the sake of argument let's chalk up the fact that I have only ever been pulled over once in my life to luck. That one time I was doing 82 in a 60 mile an hour zone, so not only speeding but worthy of a citation for reckless driving as well. So a pretty serious stop.
Was I frightened? Apprehensive? Worried that I would get anything more than the tickets I deserved?
It never even occurred to me that I would need to do any of the things the author described. Because, although the officer couldn't tell by looking at me any of the things I have in common with the author they could see the one thing we don't. I am a white lady and she is a black lady. Regardless of whether or not the officers could see that when they lit us up (and in my case, due to tinted windows they most certainly could not) this fact was clear by the time we were pulled over.
I not only drove off that day with just a speeding ticket instead of the much more serious citation for reckless driving I deserved, the officer apologized for pulling me over. He said, and I quote, " if you'd been doing 10 over I'd have let it go, but 82 in a 60 zone, I kind of had to pull you over."
So let's review. Two very similar ladies, one black, one white. One pulled over, treated like threat for going 5 miles over the speed limit, one driving recklessly in a car with darkly tinted windows, gets a reduced ticket and an apology for the inconvenience.
And this is the point:
Due to the color of our skin these are the interactions we expected. That she would automatically be treated as potential criminal or threat and that I would not.
"Due to the color of our skin these are the interactions we expected."

I am wondering what else besides "white" the writer of this statement is. That writer has already identified themselves in classist terms as well (i.e. her financial status), and, I'm wondering about ethnicity in addition to "whiteness." Are we talking blonde with a driver's license that has a last name the police officer might recognize?

At any rate, I have no problem with the message of this article. The driver "wonders," that's all.

But other people do have issues on the road. No doubt, some don't, but those who feel so entitled, and expect so much with such ease from police officers clearly do not speak for so many others, including the 50 percent of Americans currently low income and in poverty.

By the way, i read this writer's article, more recently, on the NAACP employee targeted in Spokane, and, I was appalled by her nasty, mean-spirited, substance-less attack on this woman who is also the mother of two African American sons.

Apparently, she needs to make up for being a member of the black middle class by finding the nearest possible victim to attack. In this case, a person who was cruelly targeted by one of the most powerful and corrupt media moguls in the USA, owning Spokane, lock stock and barrel. How convenient to have you, writer, as an attack dog in their Washington State ranks. Are you planning to try for a job at one of their Chicago-owned newspapers?
This sounds like a creative writing essay assignment on hyperbole. If it makes you feel better, though, I will admit that I am a white person who never gets pulled over...because I go 60 in a 60 zone and 25 in a 25 zone. I never saw "flow of traffic" speed sign on the freeway. Just saying.
I think there's white, and, people who are really white-identified. Which means his or her identity is fueled by a concept of his or her race, and associations of privilege. There are many people who are "white" but not "white identified."

Frankly, I don't know how anyone in the United States can claim that they only go 60 in a 60 zone. Other cars on the roadways simply do not permit it. People are literally forced to drive over the speed limit. Sure, you may otherwise conform to speed limits, but it's just not possible under today's road conditions.

Then, everyone is driving over the speed limit, "flow of traffic," a cop car appears, and everyone slows down like one big mind meld.

But, the other day in Seattle, I was amazed because I was driving within the speed limit and this other car behind me was riding up on my rear bumper trying to force me to go faster. There was a cop car coming towards us in the other lane, and this driver didn't even care that the cop was right there.

I have never seen that before, and I was thinking about this board discussion, and decided that this could only happen in Seattle, and only a very white-identified driver would be arrogant enough to do this. Or someone who's just very spaced out.

Interesting group creative writing exercise, otherwise. I read everyone's contribution, myself. Clearly others didn't.

@96: ?
Red head and not known to the officer who pulled me over.... Do you think I'm someone famous or something? Weirdo.
And I brought up financial status, or class if you will, as a data point I share with the author, because in all things, excluding race, we are very similar demographically.

@97: Good for you lamb chop. Do you want a cookie?

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