TODAY WAS almost A GOOD DAY! On Wednesday, July 8th I got out of bed feeling a little bit better than good! IntelligentSeedz were finally going to interview Mr. Rodney Lofton – Superintendent of Trenton Public Schools. We were happy that we had been granted the interview and it was finally about to happen. Mr. Lofton is a magnanimous brother with a lot of knowledge to offer our youth film makers on the subject of high lead levels in schools as well as what’s being done to correct the problem.
You can check out a clip of our Intelligent Seedz upcoming documentary “Dying to Learn” (The Effect of Lead on Inner City School Children) http://www.intelligentseedz.org
So, I do the normal run through go over the punch list of things needed for the shoot, make sure all of the children are up, waiting and ready to go. We arrive at the Board of Education, the youth set up and conduct the interview (big shout to Ra’Ees, Ibreania and Kai yall held it down with a three youth crew, they missed you Amir and Megan). Everything was great, interview went well, superintendent Rodney Lofton was nothing short of informative, well knowledgeable on the subject and he also allowed the seedz to interview Mr. Everett Collins – Director of Buildings and Grounds for Trenton Public School district.
We completed the shoot, wrapped up and got on our way; mission accomplish, I’m ecstatic. After dropping the seedz off I hurry to make a studio session scheduled for 1:30pm with Kal and Bizz p.k.a. AD (Angels to some Devils to most). Get there we breeze through the track like professionals, everybody’s happy…we exchange pounds, handshakes and hugs and I’m on my way to my place in Trenton. At this point I’m looking for my Ice Cube cd because TODAY is A GOOD DAY!
Driving down Chestnut St. (One block from my gate), I stop at the light. This is when Diamond – a friend, good brother and Hip Hop/reggae drummer for many established and local artist, myself included – jogs over to the car. He asks me “what’s up”, said he hadn’t seen me around in a while, I tell him “my numbers still the same, give me a holla!” He reaches into the car window we shake hands, in the usual long drawn-out way brothers do, he walks off, the light turns green I pull off.
Less than two minutes later I’m turning on to my street. I begin to park and this is when the Ice Cube Good Day lyrics and melody begin to grind to a dead-batteries in ya boom box halt. As good as my day was going I’m now being chirped to pull over by the TAC Unit (fancy name for COPS), at the moment I am parking! I mean in mid park, they put the Cherries on, chirp me so I stop about 18 inches from the curb.
They jump out of their cruiser briskly, the male officer rushing up to my driver side window, while his partner a female officer maneuvers towards my passenger side window with her hand on her firearm.
My windows were already down, so he comes up and asks “do you have license?” To which I reply “absolutely.” Then he asked “do you have vehicle registration?” To which I again replied in the affirmative “absolutely!” He asked if they were valid, again my reply was “absolutely!” After giving him my valid license, registration and insurance cards, he asked “do you have guns or drugs in the car?”To which I replied ABSOLUTELY NOT!” I asked him “what is the reason I’m being stopped?” I’m just parking in front of my home, he didn’t answer the question. Instead he asked…”Who was the guy you were talking to on the corner back there?” To which I reply “someone I know…why?” To which he replied “get out of the car!” I ask him “why..what did you stop me for?” Again he asked me to get out of my car…again I asked why? This time he answered “because I said so!” To which I said “so I’m expected to just do whatever you say no matter what?” To which he replied..”basically!” So, I got out of the car (complete cooperation, although I still haven’t been told why I’ve been pulled over?). He asks me to go to the back of my car. Next, he ask me to put my hands on the back of my car and I did so.
At this point he’s patting me down. Then he walks away to search in the driver side of my vehicle? His partner is searching in the bushes up the block where I had just driven past and in the bushes I was now parked in front of (my neighbor’s yard basically). The male cop comes back and continues patting me down, checking my pockets.
So, I turn around slightly gazing under my right arm pit, both hands still on my car, and ask “am I being arrested?” And this A-hole of an officer says “now you’re being arrested for ASSAULT ON AN OFFICER!”???? Am I crazy or did he just say I’m being arrested for assault on an officer? Yep, assault on an officer I never touched, disrespected, raised my voice to or challenged in any way?
So he handcuffed me they put me in the cruiser and took me down to the precinct. But before we got to the precinct I asked “so, let me get this straight, you arrested me for assault on an officer?” Now, the arresting officer says to me “do you want to be arrested for assault on an officer?” I’m thinking, is this a trick question? So I respond “absolutely not!” This is when he says “you don’t have any warrants, traffic violations, etc., so we’ll take you down, they’ll give you a couple tickets and a summons and let you go!” OOOO..K? I’m thinking “tickets for what..a summons for what?” I’ve done absolutely nothing???
So, I ask him again..”what are you arresting me for?” This time he says “for obstructing an investigation?” At this point I’m just dumb, none of this shit makes since? I ask him “what investigation? And who are you investigating…me?” To which he says “yes!” Investigating me my ass! This is a familiar case of over aggressive police work turned harassment! Nothing more, nothing less!
These two Tactical Unit officers thought they had witnessed a drug transaction when Diamond (the drummer), came to my window at the light. We exchanged words, he reached into the window to shake my hand and they thought we exchanged more than salutations!
They followed me to my block, stopped me, searched all the bushes up the street for the distance I had traveled thinking maybe I threw drugs out of my car window!?!?! When they realized I was not a drug dealer that had somehow out witted them, but a married father of two, a youth organization director and co-founder without any warrants, prior arrests, traffic or parking violations they felt just a little disappointed! This disappointment lead them in their arrogance and abuse of power and authority to make up all kinds of BS to charge me (an apparently innocent civilian) with some kind of violation?
Please understand me. I can accept being pulled over because the officer suspected I may have been trafficking, selling or distributing drugs. However, at the moment it is realized that’s not the case, send me on my way..you don’t even have to apologize! But, don’t, after discovering you were wrong, treat me like I am in effect a “drug dealer” who just happened to outwit you this time!
I am a youth advocate, not a drug dealer, drug user, gangbanger, or criminal. I know many people in Trenton, I grew up here since I was two years old! Trenton is only 7.5 square miles, everybody knows everybody! I went to school with, grew up with and I am friends with lawyers, judges, doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, garbage men, government workers, rappers, city workers, school teachers, principals, businessmen, politicians, activist and yes, gangbangers, convicts, drug addicts, etc. The good, the bad, and the ugly…I AM TRENTON!
An apparent part of the problem is that the arresting officers ARE NOT TRENTON! They didn’t grow up here, they do not know the people. It’s hard to have lived in the 7.5 square mile box that is Trenton and not know me, what I do and or what I’m about! I’ve been the same ole me for years!
Is this what the justice system is? Arresting innocent people on bogus charges knowing most will want to avoid court, missing work and paying for attorneys. So, get them to plea bargain to the lesser tickets and or summons while dropping other charges? Most people take this “deal” to avoid court, attorney fees and possibly more fines, even though they’re innocent! This is extortion, intimidation and abuse of power in the worse way!
Nearly half Trenton’s population are “minorities” living somewhere below or at the poverty-line and cannot afford to pay their basic household bills let alone bogus tickets, summons and citations. Not to mention missing days from work to go to arraignments and trials! So, they pay “the lesser” of the fines knowing they are guilty of absolutely nothing at all. This is an oppressive system and that’s saying the least! With all the educated people local and state governments have on its payroll I’m sure they can figure out a better way to raise money rather than arresting obviously innocent civilians and charging them with violations they did not commit!
Nonetheless, my GOOD DAY gone astray, turned into two tickets and a summons for Obstructing an Investigation that carries a $1000 fine and up to 6 months in prison!?!? Needless to say I plead NOT GUILTY to all charges and my day in court is August 28th of this year…I’ll keep you posted!
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