Asleep in her bed with her little ones, she hears their dog begin to bark. Though his barking is not unusual, the time of day is very unlike him. It is 2 in the morning. Before she can register why he is barking, the lights from her bedroom ceiling burn her eyes and she shields them while simultaneously pulling her little ones into her embrace. She hears yelling, she feels scared and she sees the large barrel of a narcotics task force deputy's gun as it is shoved in her face. She is asked repeatedly "where is he, where is he, where the fuck is he" as she tries to explain to the agents that her boyfriend does not and has not ever lived with her. As she tries to calm the trembles she feels coming from the small frame of her 4-year-old daughter, she can hear other agents throughout her home, tearing it apart. Although the agents don't seem to be hearing her, she continues to try to get them to listen:
"He doesn't live here, there aren't any drugs here, I don't know what you are talking about!"
The agent who appears to be in charge of this operation turns to two other agents and declares "if she keeps getting smart with me I'm going to have to take her in the other room." They all laugh, and though she does not get the 'joke' she understands that he is not joking, so she stops trying to plea.
Finally, the agent in charge reaches into his pocket, walks over to a wall-mounted book shelf and "finds" a small bag of marijuana "IN PLAIN SIGHT" (magic words are important). He tells her that she has 3 days to turn her boyfriend in, or they will come looking for her.
Hours after the house has fallen silent, she cannot get her 2-year old twin boys to go back to sleep. Months after they have left to visit her mother, she cannot get her 4-year old daughter to go back to the house, or to stop wetting herself. Her little girl now has to see a child psychologist so that she can try to "work out" why the big man with the shiny badge held the black gun in her face while the other big man with the shiny badge yelled at her mommy.
The hardest part is hearing stories like this one, BELIEVING stories like this one and knowing there is no way I can prove it. Unless the 4-year old and the twins are coming to court to testify, it is the word of 5-6 agents against my lady. Unless she has a surveillance camera set up in her bedroom, the judge has the option of believing her, or believing a "man of the badge" with 10+ years under his belt. But she is sitting across from me, crying, shaking, hurting and asking for me to just believe her. Just believe in her. Just fight for her.
Picture Rocky IV, Apollo is dead, Drago is psychotic and you just know this isn't going to end well. Rocky gives up the home field advantage, everyone in the audience is rooting for Drago, Adrian is there but she is scared for Rocky's life and he has had to pretty much train on his own. But he is resolved to fight. Though the odds are against him, he is resolved to see this through to the end. The hardest part is suiting up when I feel like I am going into a battle already lost, but I know that I have to fight anyway. So I assure my lady that I believe her, I believe in her and I will fight for her.
Those punches are going to hurt, and I can't help but feel like my inevitable loss will add fuel to the consuming fire these agents are intent on spreading throughout the poor community; but I have to do it. Days like this, I hate to admit it but, I do not want to be a public defender. I don't even want to be a criminal defense attorney. The anger I felt after hearing my lady's story was matched only by my overwhelming sense of helplessness. How do you fight a system that is set up to essentially always believe the police? Even when the judge and jury KNOW it could not have happened the way the officer, agent or deputy have testified, something inside of them refuses to believe that it could have happened any other way. I believe the reality is they do not want to believe the horror these law enforcement officers force people to experience. To accept that your life can be turned upside down just because someone with power decided that is how is going to be, with no other explanation...it's enough to make you beyond scared of what our world has come to. Trust me, I know. I now carry a toxic mixture of fear and hate in my heart for law enforcement. I have been seriously considering getting cameras installed in my home as well as my vehicle.
I never want to be in a situation where it is their word against mine. That is a gamble not worth the ante. I do not believe in our system well enough to make that bet. That is the hardest part.
Until next time,
Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.
Not guilty! Now put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!