When Confronted With the Choice of Leaving or Staying, Your Criminal Record Could Be in Jeopardy
Fight or flight: a cliché used every day. Imagine that sudden sense of urgency that grips your body, pulling you away from whatever danger is in front of you. Or maybe you take the boost of adrenaline that surges through your body and fight back. Would you fight back against a police officer? I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Calling a cop a pig isn’t a good idea either, for the record.
The sun was beating down on my winter skin as I gripped my makeshift anti-war sign. I was going to march in an anti-war protest; boy, was I hot stuff. Well versed in one-liners about the current war in Iraq, I was ready to defend myself against any word assault thrown my way. Any other type of assault was out of the question, as you know, because nonviolence is the way to go, right?
Wrong. Imagine a group of young college students, closely followed by police officers, making their way through the confusing streets of the District of Columbia. They occupy one lane of traffic, as that is their legal right, and they march down the rows of corporate headquarters, shaking their fists at each of the buildings, as if the building is the thing committing the crime. Then, out of nowhere, the police officers surge toward the kids. Some stay where they are, some dodge, some run.
Did you know that, in the fleeting moment you have to decide if you’re going to walk away coolly or get up in someone’s face, while cells inside you are reacting so fast to the adrenaline pumping through you and your hair raises and sweat droplets form, you could be arrested for civil disobedience? Just something to keep in mind. Lights, camera, action!
As I slowly made my way to the sidewalk, I felt resentment building toward the officers who were pushing me into the mess of people and the jackass who threw a paint-filled balloon at the Army Recruitment Center, ruining the protest. Cue the chanting.
“Get those animals off those horses!”
“Whose streets? Our streets!”
“A, a ti, a ti capitalista!”
At this point, I’m most likely attempting to ask someone what is going on, but I can’t be sure of the response because of the yelling and screaming directed toward the officers. Should I join in? Maybe. Do I want to get arrested? No. We’ll go with no on the disrespect to the cops, one of which is standing right next to me.
The DC Metropolitan police: Dressed in baby blue uniforms, some on bikes or horses, can seem intimidating. In fact, many police officers are intimidating. Imagine one standing next to you in this high-risk situation. Now imagine him with sunglasses on so you can’t see his eyes. Yeah, I know, it’s scary. And remember our flight-or-fight friend? That police officer is ten times as scary when you’re deciding to flee or to duke it out.
What do you choose, then?
Well, given the circumstances, most people don’t want to be arrested. If that’s the case, walk away. If you do want to be arrested, break the law. I do not have plans that regard wearing handcuffs anytime soon, so civil disobedience is out of the question.
But, as you can imagine, some crazy hooligan who can’t get enough excitement at the local McDonald’s will probably detach from the general crowd and stick his neck out there for it to be rung by a ready-and-willing cop. They are ready and they are willing.
So, the next time you decide you want to be a punk, don’t do it around the police, please. I can just imagine me standing on the sidewalk, watching you being drug away in handcuffs.