Handcuffed in a Speed Trap: The Indelible Taste of Hate
STEVE DEBENPORT/GettyWhen the cuffs came out and my head was slammed onto the hood of my rented car, I knew this was more than a traffic ticket. True, I was doing 40 in a 30 zone or something like that. I’m not sure. The signs changed so quickly and so often, some obscured by trees, it was hard to tell.The first thing I learned was that handcuffs, if secured with a certain intent, hurt. The next thing I learned is that when this stuff starts to happen, reason gets you nowhere. Halfway into my 45 minutes in the backseat of a state trooper’s car on the road’s shoulder, in the rising heat of a mid-summer North Florida morning, the window cut open less than you might leave it for a dog, my sensible entreaties turned to indignation. “I am not a criminal!” I declared. I was assured that I was. (The charge: “Driving without a valid license.” A thought dawned. I did have those unpaid parking tickets; maybe my license had been suspended.) Gradually, as this lone Florida officer conducted what I later learned was an illegal search of my belongings, I began to grasp the nature of the situation.He never actually said the word “Jew.” I’m not sure if he meant his spit to land on my face when he leaned in and over-pronounced my last name: Blumen-FELD. I got it when he expressed disdain for “how your people live in New York City” and explained that “our people do things differently.” I couldn’t hear what he and the two other cops who pulled up were saying. I could tell that they were laughing, and that one of them was pointing at me. Was this fun for them? I tried protesting again until he leaned in, giving me a clear view of the medal on his chest—“pistol expert”—while he told me, “Your people like to get really agitated. I wouldn’t do that. Things can get really bad here for someone like you.” After we arrived at the police station, I can’t say if seconds or minutes went by after the double doors shut on either side and it was just me and three cops in awkward silence. I didn’t really think a beat-down would start but no one would have heard. I began to understand how much handcuffs, combined with an inability to cut and run, mess with even an orderly mind.Read more at The Daily Beast.