Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
Link for video because of course I can’t embed it here.
I’m so white I could be Conan O’Brien’s twin sister so I obviously can’t speak to the experience of racialized encounters with law enforcement. Let me just get that out of the way. But when I watched the arrest video of Sandra Bland there was something that police officer Brian Encinia said – and the tone in which he said it – to the late Ms. Bland that hit me viscerally as a woman. “Oh, I know him.”
From the transcript:
Encinia: OK, ma’am. (Pause.) You OK?
Bland: I’m waiting on you. This is your job. I’m waiting on you. When’re you going to let me go?
Encinia: I don’t know, you seem very really irritated.
Bland: I am. I really am. I feel like it’s crap what I’m getting a ticket for. I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me, so I move over and you stop me. So yeah, I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket, so [inaudible] ticket.
Encinia: Are you done?
Bland: You asked me what was wrong, now I told you.
Bland: So now I’m done, yeah..
I have a strong sense that Brian Encinia is the type of guy who has ordered a woman, possibly a stranger on the street or in a elevator or whatever just minding her own damn business, to “smile” on more than one occasion. I got that shit a lot when I was in the near vicinity of Ms. Bland’s age (28)*. Pissed me off royally as well as making me feel awkward and embarrassed but many times I would comply, simply out of a desire to have the fucker leave me alone or because he had power over me. But when I refused to smile for the smile-demanders, oh man, did they get hostile!
In watching and listening to Encinia’s interaction with Bland, I did not perceive an actual interest on his part about whether she was okay or not. I heard zero empathy in it. I detected the distinct sound of a white guy annoyed that a young woman, and a young black woman at that, dared to express anything short of enthusiasm for making the traffic stop that he initiated for a probable bullshit reason (failing to signal a lane change while pulling over to the side for Officer Encinia) an ego-buoying experience for him.
Huffington Post has compiled the entire transcript, which contains Sandra Bland using some very blunt language toward the officers who (finally) arrested her after pulling her out of her car and manhandling her quite a bit.
Here’s the telling statement from Encinia for why he “roided out” on Bland so soon after the stop, and well before she cussed him and the female cop out.
She gave me her driver’s license. I came back to the car and started running her stuff. Print it out. Coming to get back to the car to complete and tell her what’s she receiving and what to do and so forth.
At that time, she’s still very much irritated and so forth. I’m pulling her over for she didn’t turn on her signal and so forth and so forth.
She wouldn’t even look at me. She’s looking straight ahead, just mad.
He could have told her the reason for the ticket and simply handed it to her or dropped it on her lap. They both would have been on their ways. Him with an anecdote about how a grouchy black woman wasn’t deferential to him. Her with one about the white cop who (probably) profiled her and pulled her over for a bullshit reason. But no, Brian Encinia had to have that smile.
*Now that I’m 46 I can go about my entire day with a scowl on my face and, weirdly, no man demands that I brighten my, and his, day by flashing a winsome grin. You’d almost think that the annoying men who pestered me to “smile” on an almost daily basis up until about ten years ago were never interested in my well-being at all!