this AM in BedStuy my Elementary-school Art & Music Teacher friend was accosted by Undercover Police
. . . not only is my friend a very non-threatening, suburban dwelling, father, an Artist & Musician with a bit of a name in the local New York City music scene, works with various neighborhood and political types on some nonprofit multicultural music and art educational events . . . as well as being a veteran teacher in the NYC School-system who is well known in neighborhood where he has taught for 19+ years . . . he is also a (late) 40-something year old blond-headed, blue eyed gentleman of the Caucasian persuasion.
He is ok and he did not suffer an arrest, a beating, or being conveniently relieve of all his ready cash (on the grounds that it must be the result of a illegal activities and therefore subject to "forfeiture") or being shot . . . . as happen to so many men of colour.
But he was shaken up by it. And then (when he got over the initial fright) angered by the incident that clearly points up some of the major problems out there on the streets, especially with the "elite" Cowboy's in the plain-clothes units that have no neighborhood affiliations, cross several Precinct lines and are not actually "tuned in" to the everyday life of the majority of the citizens, (other than their rather dubious "snitches".)
It occurred at around 7:45-ish this AM as he exited the subway to walk the few blocks to the school where he teaches. Suddenly there was a squealing of tires and an nondescript black van pulled up next to him blocking him in and 30-something young man he describes as "vaguely Italian looking" in casual attire jumped out, got aggressively in his face and began shouting at him. The guy was yelling things like "Do you live here? What are you doing here?" and things to that effect. There were no uniforms, there was no identification of who they were, there was no badge --and until late into the game there wasn't even any identification of themselves as police officers.
It wasn't until my thoroughly startled, befuddled and a little bit frightened (had he been mistaken for someone else? Had he stumbled into the middle of some wild criminal scenario straight out of 'Law & Order'? Was he perhaps on Candid Camera?) friend calmed down enough to listen to the tenor of the questions, looked more closely at his aggressive questioner and his equally menacing if silent companions in the van that he accurately guessed they were undercover police officers and questioned them about it. Then they finally identified themselves.
The harangue continued on for several more minutes with a wide variety of threats, bluster and demands that he answer some not actually totally legal questions and demands "or else" . . . "Why are you only showing me one piece of Id?" (his NY State Teacher's ID with photo and local school affiliation) "If you don't do what I say I'll handcuff you and take you to the stations house and then we'll see how much Id you'll have to show then. What do you mean you live in XXXXXXXXX? Do you expect me to believe you commute in to the neighborhood every day? Why do you do that? I don't have to walk over to this School you claim you work at and ask your Principal anything, but I can handcuff you and you can talk to the people at the Precinct, what do you think about that?" and so on and so forth in that vein. Finally the police seemed to grow tired of their little games and with a few more threats and complaints told him he was free to go.
Oh and the reason they gave for the stop and search? They said there had been a report that there was "a white man running around Bed Stuy with a gun and he closely matched the description that had just gone out over the radio."