police scuffle on Third Avenue

So there I was, minding my own business, standing on Third Avenue and Pike, waiting for a bus. The air was spitting rain, and there was no more room under the shelters, and I was slightly annoyed. I was reading a novel, absorbed, but not entirely. Police sirens pelted the air with their shrill cries to my right. “Another schmo who thought he’d test his luck and drive on Third,” I thought, and only glanced over to take note of the flashing lights. But then I saw three guys on bikes, policemen in yellow rain slickers and bare legs, pedalling as fast as they could, to meet the original police car. “I’ll never get over cops on bikes,” I thought, thinking of the burly uniformed men in New York who are my archetype of policemen. Then I went back to my novel.

Five minutes later. My bus still hasn’t arrived. I look up for it, then see something darting to the left of me. Shrieks raise into the air, all along the line of the people waiting for the bus. Everyone startles. There’s a young black man in saggy jeans, handcuffs behind his back, running awkwardly among us, zig-zagging through the crowd. And right behind him, seven to ten policemen in hot pursuit. And before I can even finish the thought — wait a second, am I on an episode of Cops? — three of them, panting hard, caught up to the kid. Their hands reached out to him, grabbed at the air around his head, then found his flesh.

And they slammed him onto the ground, head into the curb, hard.

All around me, people let out gasps, little breaths of confusion and shock. I just stood there with my mouth open. This is Seattle?

At first, I thought, “Oh god, it’s a bunch of white cops, beating up on a black kid.” But there were black cops, Asian cops, women cops, surrounding him, then walking back to the earlier scene. It was like the Sesame Street principle of policemen. But still, we all just stood there, dozens of us, staring at the spot where they had slammed that kid.

He stood up. He seemed okay. Dazed. My bus arrived, making a wide berth around the clutch of people on the street. I stepped on, slowly. They pushed the handcuffed kid into the back of a waiting police car as my bus drove by, me looking back.

I haven’t been able to get this out of my mind all evening.

3 Comments so far

  1. Ryan (unregistered) on January 4th, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

    Violence is shocking. Especially violence of the variety you witnessed in a town like Seattle. When I lived in New York I almost expected stuff like that to happen – I even saw someone shot while sitting in his car and chalked it up to living in the Big City.

    Still disturbing, though. Maybe because it’s all so different than the movies…

  2. Aaron (unregistered) on January 5th, 2006 @ 8:06 am

    > At first, I thought, “Oh god, it’s a bunch of white cops, beating up on a black kid.”Good to see that stereotypes are alive and well in pseudo-open-minded Seattle…

  3. Tony B. (unregistered) on January 5th, 2006 @ 10:31 am

    Damn, is it really so hard to believe that police would use some force on somebody that escaped from them? Even thought the guy was handcuffed you have no idea how far into the process he was of getting arrested. Who knows what was in his pockets. That kid got exactly what he deserved, I mean how stupid can you be to run in the middle of being arrested? He’s lucky he wasn’t maced or something even worse.

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