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  Night Drive
Column Written 10/10/2000 by Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A. All Rights Reserved

For you are prisoners of war, in an enemy's country - of a
war, too, that is unrivalled for its injustice, cruelty, meanness...

      Frederick Douglass (1850)

For millions of people, a daily drive, with no specific destination in mind, is a form of relaxation and enjoyment. It evokes little worry, other than the occasional pique over the cost of gas.
For most, this is a practice that is a harmless, pleasant diversion. For many Black folks, however, this is a daily practice that unsettles the nerves, that upsets the stomach, and sounds the alarm of danger. For they know that they can be subjected to hassle, harassment, humiliation, harm and insult for daring to violate the unwritten law of DWB (or Driving While Black). It matters not what class, what complexion, or what status the driver, for being Black is enough.
Several weeks ago, a well-to-do couple was driving through Montgomery County in Maryland. Their car was stopped, and eight police cars, as well as at least 16 armed cops surrounded them. High-intensity spot lights beamed upon them and over a dozen pistols and shotguns were aimed at them. They were thus ordered to exit the car, and to walk backwards some 40 feet or so, with their hands on their heads. Then, the two were handcuffed.
Several moments later, the cops removed the husband's identification, and then they learned of their mistake.

The two were Bob Nash and Janis Kearney, who both worked in high-level jobs at the White House. Nash is director of the Office of presidential Personnel, and his wife is a Special Assistant to the President. Nash, in a recently published letter, wrote that he and his wife were "traumatized," "humiliated and afraid for our lives."
The couple, who described themselves as strong supporters of law enforcement, and "law-abiding citizens," experienced DWB, first-hand. It didn't matter that they were, presumably, well-educated, well-connected, well-groomed or had a friend and boss in the Oval Office. It didn't matter that their car was different in color from the suspect vehicle! It mattered that they were Black-period. If the President of the United States couldn't even protect them-what about you?

İMAJ 2000

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