Saturday, September 27, 2008


"Driving While Black" is word play on the name of a real U.S.driving while intoxicated. The phrase implies that a motorist may be pulled over by a police officer simply because he or she is black, and then questioned, searched, and/or charged with a trivial offense. This concept stems from a long history of racism in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries. The term refers to racial profiling, which is said to be used by police and other law enforcement officials. crime, [1]

Source: Wikipedia

So I just got back home from a long day of Inner-City Filmmakers Winter Session Classes. That means a 9-5 day which consists of three hours of writing, an hour of fundamentals and three house of editing. Afterwords I had a meeting with some ICF Alumni who are putting a film together. Then I hung out with some ICF folk, fooling around and talking comics, films and TV.
When we headed back home, more specifically, when they were about to drop me off we got pulled over by the LAPD.

It's funny though, because while we were passing the freeway I saw another car pulled over and the police were shining lights through their window and I just had a bad feeling. Then, the driver of our car said "I'm about to get pulled over watch ..." A milisecond later you see the blue and red lights and the female officer speaking over a blow horn "Please pull over your vehicle." What makes it even more funny, though, is that the driver, who is the director of the film for which I was in the meeting in, is doing a film about crooked cops.

Let's rewind a bit. When we passed the first car that was pulled over I happened to notice that both driver and passenger were young black males, typical right? Of course a stray thought of "DWB" goes through my mind right? In our car, just as we were pulling to the side I looked around and see three young black males and a latino sitting next to me in the back seat, not a very good combination. Then I remembered it was the end of the month and we were on Adams & Crenshaw, where LAPD loves to build up their end-of-the-month ticket quota. Again, the thought of DWB goes through my mind but is still yet unjustified. I like to give LAPD a chance, there are some really great cops out there, even if they are sometimes hard to find.

Now, usually when pulled over a police officer will ask for license, registration and then tell you the reason you were pulled over. Only the first two happened. And that's when I really knew this was a being pulled over because of the demographic in the car. Instead of license, registration and reason, we were given license, registration and "were you smoking out?" Much like the driver I was very irritated. Smoking out? I'm as straight edge as most come! And why assume we are? "Oh it smells funny in here?" Smells funny? WTF lady cop. She looks over his license and then casually asks if we've ever been arrested before. I've seen this questioned posed many times before and it really bugs me. I find it very threatening.

So she walks off and does her thing in her cruiser. The driver asks her partner why he was pulled over and he says "broken tail light," a likely "
trivial offense" that was failed to be mentioned when we were first pulled over. To take our minds off the aggravation we continue our conversation as we did before and start joking around, laughing and everything. The cops don't like it much and the lady cop asks us if we think this is all funny. This again was a bit irritating. We weren't even dealing with them at this point, we were talking privately amongst ourselves and they try to make something of it. Her partner comes around at one point, shining his flashlight in the car and asks us if we've been smoking out. Again we tell him the same answer and he says they were about to pull us out one by one to search us for anything we might be hiding. The driver is chill with it, wanting it to get over with it but I was pretty agitated. A broken tail light and some laughter does not warrant a search. This was when I really knew in my mind it was DWB.

First of, it was really close to the end of the month. LAPD really does have a quota they have to meet with their tickets so being pulled over at this time is quite common and happens quite often (just wait until the 30th). Second, they didn't even give us the benefit of the doubt. Didn't even mention why it was they were pulling us over initially. Third, they kept posing the question if we were smoking out and accused the car of "smelling funny" when it really smelled like a regular car. Fourth, they threatened to take us out one by one to search us. Hate that. And fifth, they were general pricks.

In the end they didn't pull us out and they gave the driver a ticket for the tail light and warned him if we kept the laughter up they would ticket him for his tinted windows (which they failed to mention until just then).

Generally, it was a good experience. Keeps my eyes open to reality. Can't be in la la land in filmmaking world and company for too long. Got to stay grounded.

Peace. Keep your heads up!


Davohn said...


- J Dilla

LiL said...

oh DWB
that is def uncool
.... its funny how i know the people in the car and how they totally wouldnt smoke out

Billimarie said...

You're way positive in the face of fucked-up-ness, man...much props for that.

For me, it doesn't matter how many 'good cops' I or others run into...I've just ran into not-so-good cops and I've just heard too many bullshit stories about not-so-good cops to stay positive about the LAPD.

Also, I agree with Davohn...fuck the police.

I'm posting a link to this on my blog, if you don't mind : )


*_*Antoine*_* said...

I don't mind at all.