Man Survives Traffic Stop, Concludes Racist Police Violence Isn’t A Real Problem
In a post that has been going viral on Facebook, Steven Hildreth Jr. of Arizona–who is currently promoting a novel he just published–recounts his experience being pulled over by police officers for a tail light that was out. Hildreth, a black man, was not murdered by these cops during said traffic stop. In fact, the cops were not jerks at all, really, which has led Hildreth to conclude that the Black Lives Matter movement is vastly overstating the problem of racist cops acting violently towards black people.
So, I’m driving to my office to turn in my weekly paperwork. A headlight is out. I see a Tucson Police Department squad vehicle turn around and follow me. I’m already preparing for the stop.
The lights go on and I pull over. The officer asks me how I’m doing, and then asks if I have any weapons.
“Yes, sir. I’m a concealed carry permit holder and my weapon is located on my right hip. My wallet is in my back-right pocket.”
The officer explains for his safety and mine, he needs to disarm me for the stop. I understand, and I unlock the vehicle. I explain that I’m running a 7TS ALS holster but from the angle, the second officer can’t unholster it. Lead officer asks me to step out, and I do so slowly. Officer relieves me of my Glock and compliments the X300U I’m running on it. He also sees my military ID and I tell him I’m with the National Guard.
Lead officer points out my registration card is out of date but he knows my registration is up to date. He goes back to run my license. I know he’s got me on at least two infractions. I’m thinking of how to pay them.
Officers return with my Glock in an evidence back, locked and cleared. “Because you were cool with us and didn’t give us grief, I’m just going to leave it at a verbal warning. Get that headlight fixed as soon as possible.”
I smile. “Thank you, sir.”
I’m a black man wearing a hoodie and strapped. According to certain social movements, I shouldn’t be alive right now because the police are allegedly out to kill minorities.
Maybe…just maybe…that notion is bunk.
Maybe if you treat police officers with respect, they will do the same to you.
Police officers are people, too. By far and large, most are good people and they’re not out to get you.
I’d like to thank those two officers and TPD in general for another professional contact.
We talk so much about the bad apples who shouldn’t be wearing a badge. I’d like to spread the word about an example of men who earned their badges and exemplify what that badge stands for.
Naturally, the comments section is chock full of white people thrilled to pieces by this post. Because THEY KNEW all along that all those other black people were definitely lying about racism existing, and were absolutely certain that the only reason they were disproportionately assaulted by police officers were because they were not polite to them like this nice black man was. They just knew it!
Clearly, these police officers deserve ALL of the cookies for doing their job, rather than killing some random dude they pulled over. Clearly, this is a cause for celebration! Police officers! Doing their jobs! Instead of killing people! Let’s throw a parade!
For what it’s worth though, I don’t think anyone in the Black Lives Matter movement has ever said that literally all cops are out to murder black people every single time they pull them over for a headlight that’s out. I’m pretty sure that was never a talking point anywhere. That doesn’t mean that what happened with Sandra Bland was acceptable. That doesn’t mean that there is not a systemic problem of racism and police violence! One dude not getting murdered at a traffic stop does not mean that this is not a problem. Especially when that dude has a military ID.
To boot, it’s a little weird that the police officers said that the reason they let him off with a warning was because “you were cool with us and didn’t give us grief.” What is that about? I’ve been pulled over before–and let go–and no police officer ever said that to me.
Calling attention to the times when police officers don’t murder black people at traffic stops doesn’t negate the problem of police violence and systemic racism. It’s nice that he didn’t get murdered, but this is just not quite the mic drop he or his fans seem to think it is.