So driving for Lyft, I’m suddenly covering an area a lot lately that’s been a bit off the beaten path for me in the past. I picked up a man going on a pizza run. He wanted to add a stop and discovered the Lyft app wouldn’t let him; this was already a round trip, which takes a stop, in this case at the pizza shop, and a final destination, in this case back home, and that’s all the Lyft app allows. In the past I’ve seen that there’s a way around this, but as he explained he just wanted to stop at a gas station, I suggested one right in front of us.
That suited him, but as I pulled into a parking space, it was right next to a police car, a K-9 unit. My passenger was Black, so I was rather concerned. He said dogs don’t bother him.
When he returned, I explained the story of the K-9 unit I’d seen a few months ago, with the dog barking uncontrollably at a Black man walking across a parking lot. He chuckled when I mentioned the name of the municipality, so I guess maybe that particular police department really is notorious.
It’s a sad thing when I tell this story, because Blacks all recognize it. Even if they’re into “respectability” and defending cops, I think either they or someone they know—in a very close-knit community—has had an experience like that.
He responded by telling me that there are a couple cops out where we were going that if you don’t somehow work with them, being a first responder or a volunteer who works with first responders, “they look at you different.” It happens he volunteers with an organization and works with first responders all the time, and he noticed the difference when they learned that.
This is the 21st century for crying out loud. Why are cops still like this?
Fig. 1. I never knew First Amendment rights extended to communicable diseases. Photograph by Jared Wickerham for the Pittsburgh City Paper, published April 20, 2020, fair use.
Ryan Deto, “Photos: About 120 protest in Downtown Pittsburgh, calling for Pennsylvania to reopen during coronavirus pandemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 20, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/photos-about-120-protest-in-downtown-pittsburgh-calling-for-pennsylvania-to-reopen-during-coronavirus-pandemic/Content?oid=17167012
- David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/↩
- Ryan Deto, “Photos: About 120 protest in Downtown Pittsburgh, calling for Pennsylvania to reopen during coronavirus pandemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 20, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/photos-about-120-protest-in-downtown-pittsburgh-calling-for-pennsylvania-to-reopen-during-coronavirus-pandemic/Content?oid=17167012↩