A few years ago the cops were called in Carboro, North Carolina because my friend was having an argument with his girlfriend and pushed her when she tried to block his path. She was fine, they were fine, but the cops were called. Shortly after a few cop cars pulled up, and eventually an officer who seemed to be of higher rank began talking with my friend and his girlfriend.
About 20 meters left of our position, I notice there are a lot more police officers. They have a black boy, close to my age, facedown on the concrete. It is cold. This was right outside the party we were coming from and people had started to gather around and shout complaints at the cops. This boy was not at our party, just happened to be walking down that street (with others) at the moment when cop cars arrived. He matched the description of “wearing a jacket.”
I went over to one of the officers who was standing watch. In that moment I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I felt my words would without a doubt sway the actions of the police officers. I calmly and cooly pleaded with him that the boy at least allowed to sit up off the ground that was so freezing cold. I said we are all human beings, can’t you be a human being and understand that what you are doing is wrong? His response was simply that he cannot take my word for what had happened. So much for affecting change.
I want to emphasize that this happened in Carboro, North Carolina which is essentially an extension of the same community as Chapel Hill, and one of the most liberal bubbles you can find in the state. I was shocked, and perhaps gained a sliver of understanding at how lucky I am to be born white. When they finally let him go I went up to him as his friends were ushering him away and tried to tell him that it wasn’t his fault. He was crying. His friends thanked me and kept walking.