Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Friday, August 20, 2004

Unwelcoming the rnc (un-rnc) - & me: entering Manhattan

I had deliveries in New Rochelle and Jackson Heights today - which means I drove into Manhattan from Queens over the 3rd Ave bridge which spilled me onto 116th St. The streets in Manhattan run east and west, the avenues run north and south.
I drove about 5 blocks into Manhattan when I noticed a shiny new black SUV tailing me – trouble! He pulled out over the double yellow line into oncoming traffic as if he was going to pass me in the middle of a busy, bumpy NYC supposed four lane road which is really a two lane road in Manhattan as there are always trucks and cars double parked or buses stopped in the middle of the lane. Then he pulled back to fall in line behind me. I noticed him attempt to go into the right-hand lane, but too many double parked cars to pass me. I pulled over into the curb lane, around the double-parked car, as he was so anxious, so he could pass legally on the left, but he pulled in and followed behind me – double trouble.
Then, much to my chagrin, following me he then pulled out again, over the double yellow line as I was in the left passing lane. I saw this pulsating bright red light coming from inside the vehicle in the middle of his dash – way big trouble! I scrutinized his vehicle – not a word, a symbol, a mark on it. Of course images of all the fuckin varieties of police at the DNC flickered thru my brain. At first I fantasized about what benign NYC-appropriate thing in the world he was – a cabby attracting biz? Some delivery person flashing urgently to get thru traffic? I pulled over and this time stopped, watching him in my large side-view mirrors, seeing him do the same.
Easing out his opened door, I saw he was a middle-aged, out-of-shape white male, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a big round belly and mousey brown hair that was balding on top and hanging straight around the bottoms of his ears. He swaggers slowly over, hoisting up his jeans. I try not to freeze as I see what may be the butt of a gun sticking out his waistband. He approached kinda sideways as he was reading my 'imprison bush for lying to lead us into war' side of my truck - not because he was flattening himself to avoid being hit!
The first thing that comes outta his mouth is this disparaging tone snarling: "Quite a paint job you got there".
“Yes sure is quite a paint job,” I’m agreeable. Then he demands to see my license, registration, and insurance card.
I looked at him, knowing he had to be a cop but incensed that he could walk up to me, plainclothes, not identify himself, no police car, no badge, no howdy ma'am - just 'license, registration, and insurance card'.
"Who the hell are you?" I demand in an equally (I hope) authoritative voice.
He looks a little startled and says “New York City detective” as he points to some medal hanging around his neck. I should have looked at it more closely, asked his name and written down that and his badge number.
I shoulda but I didn't. I hate that it didn’t even cross my mind.
I pull out my driver's license, reach over to find my registration. He first accuses me of riding around on a temporary registration for almost a year – as if I would drive a truck around as visible as mine is without the proper paper work.
“I’m registered until November.” I try to modulate my voice, when I want to ask sarcastically “don’t you read?”
I reach my hand out to take the registration back, declaring “This is NOT temporary, but current as you can see.”
I continue to dig for my current insurance card. I find about 23 insurance cards, but none with a current date - the latest ended march 2004. I lean across my long bench seat to search again in my glove compartment when I notice yet another white male leaning against the passenger side of my truck giving me the cold, steel evil eye. This one is younger and shorter with lots more hair - sandy and thick with face hair as well.
I ask the detective outside my driver’s side window “Who is leaning against my truck?     He snorts and says “I never travel alone.”
Okay, I think, that says it all.
“Do you want to know why I pulled you over?” he asks.
I just raised my eyebrows and scrunched up a corner of my mouth sending him the silent but hopefully clear message 'what do you think, I’m stupid?'
This plain clothed unmarked vehicle white male detective attempts to inform me that “You made an illegal lane change back a few blocks.”
Illegal lane change - this, in New York City. UFB
“How do you figure that?” I leaned out the window, smiling my coldest most challenging smile I can slap onto my face.
“You failed to signal,” he retorted.
“Oh no I certainly did not,” I declared. “You see what I’m driving. I’m very careful about signaling, especially here in NYC.”
He ignored me and both ‘cops’ turned their backs on me and swaggered toward their black SUV.
A middle-aged man with a friendly face and concerned demeanor materialized at my passenger window. I leaned over and rolled down the window. He introduced himself, saying he works with Rev. Sharpton. I was so excited and told him I had to shake his hand and what a hell of a speech Al Sharpton made in Boston at the DNC!
He told me that he'd noticed the police tailing me a few blocks back so he was tailing them. He saw the whole thing. He told me to get the officer's name and badge number and heartily agreed with me, those men stopped me because of my political message on my truck.
As the police again approached my truck, my friend slipped away and I rolled the window back up on the sandy-haired creature. The detective hands me back my documents as he magnanimously stated “I’m gonna let you go this time but I could have issued you three citations if I felt like it.”
I stared at him feeling relieved and astounded both as I incredulously asked: “And what three citations might those be?”
He readily held up his fingers to count off: “The illegal lane change, not having a current insurance card, and your license plate has a wire holding it in place instead of a bolt!”

Then he continued to threaten me declaring in that deep macho he-man voice: “If I ever catch you driving again without fixing these things, I’m gonna have this vehicle impounded.”
My visions of driving around during the republican convention, spreading my message to bush and the republican delegates painted on the back of my truck ‘no matter what you do, we're not voting for you' suddenly froze.
“Are you insinuating you can legally impound my vehicle?' I ask in what I hope is not a croak with the emphasis on ‘legally’.
“I could impound it now but I’m giving you a break,” his snarky smile has returned.
Should I say thank you jesus here? grrrrrr. Do I believe him? I decide to err on the side of the man...
“I have a lot of driving to do today,” I explain. “I just drove into NYC,” I fudge.
“Well, you can't drive without your current insurance card and you need to go get that license fixed immediately!”
I almost asked him if he had an extra bolt and nut but I figured I better find my current insurance card first. I’m in mama bear mode, protecting my vision of my baby's appearances in the city, worrying about how I’m going to make my deliveries and then go all the way uptown without running into those two jokers again.
They leave and magically my friend from Al Sharpton's staff materializes. The second I see him, I realize I forgot to get the officers' badges and names. I swing out my door but they are out of site. He advised me to go around the corner to the 38th precinct and report what just happened.
Which I did, with his escort and fierce protection. More about this later.