July 09, 2024

Source: Bigstock

Did I ever tell you about the time I found myself face down in a urine-soaked stairwell with a cop’s knee on my neck?

It was 1991, and black L.A. was in its Boys n’ the Hood phase. Its last years before Three Strikes and gentrification would end black communities on the Westside and displacement by beans would reduce blacks South and Eastside.

I was partying with friends late at night, and I ran into an old pal I hadn’t seen in years: Mark, a drug-dealing coked-up gangbanger, but also a jovial dude with whom I’d shared many a good time. We walked to our old high school, fenced in but with many knife-cut chain-link entry ports. We strolled the grounds, reminiscing. At some point, we ascended the stairwell of the “manual arts” building and walked around the second-floor veranda.

And in an instant, I turned around and Mark was gone.

Vanished, like Batman. He was there, then he wasn’t.

Knowing him to be a prankster, I figured he was hiding, waiting to jump out and go, “Oogamaboogama.” I got a bit peeved and said, “Quit it, dude. I’m not falling for it.”

No response.

Mark was taking the joke way too far.

“The J6ers absolutely did have intent to obstruct an official proceeding (stop a vote count), regardless of SCOTUS’ word wizardry.”

So I’m like, “Okay, I’m leaving.” And as I start down the stairs, I see, at the bottom of the stairwell, the tip of a black shoe. Someone was hiding behind that wall.

It was Mark, obviously. And my first instinct was, “I’m gonna charge him! He doesn’t know I see him, so I’ll scare him before he can scare me!” But then it hit me: Mark was always armed and always high, and the one thing you never do to a coked-up armed black gangbanger is startle him.

I decided to sit at the top of the stairs and wait for him to reveal his silly joke.

And the moment—the very moment—I sat, the figure at the bottom of the stairwell swung around.

It was a cop with his gun drawn.

Let me put it this way…had I charged the hidden figure, you’d be reading something else right now, ’cause I’d be long dead.

I’ll never forget the look of fear in that cop’s face. He was an older guy…black guy…late 50s, salt-and-pepper hair. And he had no idea what he was gonna see up that stairwell. Naturally, I put my hands in the air, and in my panic I likely said something brilliantly erudite like “ohnononoyargrambalambam.”

The cop threw me to the ground and put his knee on my neck as he radioed, “White in custody, black at large.”

He’d been patrolling the area and seen two dudes, one black, one white, trespassing on private property. And he made a logical assumption for that place and time—a drug deal in progress.

He cuffed me and kept me pinned until backup arrived (for a germophobe like me, face down in that urine-soaked stairwell, I’d have preferred a bullet).

And boy, did backup arrive; even a chopper. All looking for Mark. But Mark, with the heightened senses of a career criminal, had “felt” the cop’s presence and fled like Sonic the Hedge-nog. He was long gone. And thank God; he told me the next day that he’d had a gun, a knife, crack, and powder on him.

I was honest with the cops, and if you think they bought my “we were reminiscing” explanation, you’re quite wrong. But the problem for them was, I had a clean record—I’d never been in trouble with the law, I had nothing incriminating on my person, and I wasn’t drunk or high (I’ve never done drugs, and back then I never drank…though that’s changed!). So all they had me on was a simple trespass.

At that point, my fate—would I spend the night in lockup being boned by Jamarcus, would I have an arrest on my record, would I have to call my folks to bail me out—turned on one thing: intent.

Intent’s a word conservatives used to understand, back when they were the adults-in-the-room who knew “law & order” and comprehended the legal system, back before rightists became a network of cartoon frogs going “kek-kek-kek cuck-cuck-cuck groyp-groyp doge-doge birb-birb stonks!”

Intent matters in law.

Lemme give you an example. In 2003, an 86-year-old white driver named George Weller ran over and killed ten people at the Santa Monica farmer’s market.

Ten people.

He was sentenced to home confinement and probation.

In 2021, a young black guy named Darrell Brooks ran over and killed six people at the Waukesha Christmas parade.

Six people.

He was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Wait a minute! The black guy who killed SIX was sentenced to life while the white guy who killed TEN got probation?


Or, wait…what’s today’s special word? Intent. The court found that the old white dude had a senior moment that, tragic as it was for the victims, didn’t involve malice, whereas the black guy intentionally committed murder.

Again, intent matters, and the law takes that into account.

So there’s lil’ Dave in cuffs as the cops search for several hours for any sign that my intent that night had been to buy drugs. They combed every nearby shrub and groped every nook and cranny on my body like Lauren Boebert on a first date. They didn’t wanna bring me in on a simple trespass; a misdemeanor wouldn’t be worth the time it would take for the paperwork. They needed to get me on intent to buy. Meaning, they had to find dope on me, or dope nearby where I might’ve ditched it, or enough money on me to indicate that I was there to buy (those were the days when having “too much cash” could be used as evidence of intent to buy drugs).

Luckily, I had about seven bucks in my wallet.

Unable to establish intent, they cut me loose. I went home and showered for an hour to cleanse the smell of urine from my face.

To be clear: I was trespassing. They had me dead to rights on that. I deserved the knee to the neck, I deserved the rough treatment, and had I gone “ooga-booga” to the cop, or had I tried to fight him, I’d have deserved a bullet.

Also, the cop’s suspicion that I was there to buy drugs was reasonable. And the entire thing was my fault. I’d put myself in that position by trespassing at 1 a.m. in the company of a man I knew to be an armed drug dealer. Had Mark been caught, I’d have been screwed, because prosecutors would’ve made the logical assumption about intent. Whatever happened to me that night was my fault alone. I took the hit, and I take the responsibility.

I’ll pause here while my MAGA readers look up “responsibility,” a word that’s been Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minded from their brains by Trump.

Oh, look up “intent” too, while you’re at it.

Yes, this is a follow-up to last week’s column about the SCOTUS J6 decision. Your rioting cop-beating heroes got a free pass based on a wildly forced reading of two words. And already, MAGA media is acting as though the SCOTUS decision somehow proves that J6 was a hoax, or that it never happened at all. PJ Media, in covering the ruling, even used scare quotes for Capitol “breach.”

Yep—even the breach never occurred! Nobody went in, let alone “obstructed” anything.

Also in last week’s piece, I mentioned the Soros/Gingrich California ballot proposition that knocked many felonies (grand theft auto, property crimes, drug crimes) from felony to misdemeanor.

Let’s revisit that for a moment.

An auto theft is an auto theft. If a dude busts the window of your car and steals it, it’s the exact same act, and the exact same burden to you, whether the state labels it a felony or misdemeanor. The classification doesn’t change the act. But that’s not how DeMarquiss the thief is gonna see it. He’s gonna take the fact that he only got a citation instead of five years behind bars as “proof” that what he did wasn’t so bad.

So why not reoffend? If the state don’t take it seriously, why should he?

The right-wing SCOTUS justices can twist the meaning of two words in a federal statute to tell J6ers, “Now you can’t be prosecuted for intent to obstruct an official proceeding.” But just as that car theft remains a car theft regardless of how Soros classifies it, the J6ers absolutely did have intent to obstruct an official proceeding (stop a vote count), regardless of SCOTUS’ word wizardry.

And my fear is that (once again) MAGAs will act like Daquans and take this artificially engineered, politically motivated free pass as proof of actual innocence.

And like Daquan, they’ll reoffend.

My fear is that this free pass will continue the rightist drift from personal responsibility—a drift that always accompanies paranoid beliefs about all-powerful puppet masters secretly controlling every aspect of society and life.

Remember, when blacks argue “no black can be racist,” their reasoning is, “racism comes from above, from those in power. But we’re victims; we’re disenfranchised, manipulated. The man’s got us on strings; we lack the agency to do wrong.”

That’s MAGA too; feeling so very persecuted, they see no need to acknowledge personal responsibility. How can a puppet have agency? Plus, admitting that MAGA actions have consequences might lead to the uncomfortable realization that most MAGA electoral losses have come from MAGA errors.

If the Trump/Biden debate proved anything, it’s that this election is MAGA’s to blow. The Daquan path—rejecting responsibility and taking the Supreme Court’s word salad as “proof” that J6ers had no malintent—is exactly what will lead to MAGAs doing things between now and November that will make swing-vote Americans reluctantly choose the senile guy. Remember—Biden’s infirmity won’t impact congressional and state races. We’ve seen how Trump does with a GOP Congress (mediocre) and a Dem Congress (horrifically), so avoiding bad and stupid behavior is still advisable for MAGAs, even as Old Joe implodes.

The J6ers were trying to forestall the certification of a U.S. election. The J6ers were trying to intimidate Congress.

Accept that.

They got a free pass from their elite benefactors, just like Daquan getting a citation instead of jail from his elite benefactors.

Don’t be like Daquan and take that charity as license.

I got lucky that night in 1991. Even though my intent was benevolent, had Mark been caught, the cops would’ve made a reasonable assumption, and I would’ve had no Soros or SCOTUS to save me.

I used my narrow escape as a lesson to never again put myself in a position where, due to my poor decisions, my fate turned on a lucky break.

I recommend that MAGAs do likewise. Thank Jesus and SCOTUS that MAGA got a miracle, and don’t presumptuously expect another one.

God hates cowards. But He punishes ingrates.


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