Home > #OWS, discrimination, feedback loop, journalism, news, white privilege > Driving While Black in the Bronx

Driving While Black in the Bronx

April 24, 2015

This is the story of Q, a black man living in the Bronx, who kindly allowed me to interview him about his recent experience. The audio recording of my interview with him is available below as well.

Q was stopped in the Bronx driving a new car, the fourth time that week, by two rookie officers on foot. The officers told Q to “give me your fucking license,” and Q refused to produce his license, objecting to the tone of the officer’s request. When Q asked him why he was stopped, the officer told him that it was because of his tinted back windows, in spite of there being many other cars on the same block, and even next to him, with similarly tinted windows. Q decided to start recording the interaction on his phone after one of the cops used the n-word.

After a while seven cop cars came to the scene, and eventually a more polite policeman asked Q to produce his license, which he did. They brought him in, claiming they had a warrant for him. Q knew he didn’t actually have a warrant, but when he asked, they said it was a warrant for littering. It sounded like an excuse to arrest him because Q was arguing. He recorded them saying, “We should just lock this black guy up.”

They brought him to the precinct and Q asked him for a phone call. He needed to unlock his phone to get the phone number, and when he did, the policeman took his phone and ran out of the room. Q later found out his recordings had been deleted.

After a while he was assigned a legal aid lawyer, to go before a judge. Q asked the legal aid why he was locked up. She said there was no warrant on his record and that he’d been locked up for disorderly conduct. This was the third charge he’d heard about.

He had given up his car keys, his cell phone, his money, his watch and his house keys, all in different packages. When he went back to pick up his property while his white friend waited in the car, the people inside the office claimed they couldn’t find anything except his cell phone. They told him to come back at 9pm when the arresting officer would come in. Then Q’s white friend came in, and after Q explained the situation to him in front of the people working there, they suddenly found all of his possessions. Q thinks they assumed his friend was a lawyer because he was white and well dressed.

They took the starter plug out of his car as well, and he got his cell phone back with no videos. The ordeal lasted 12 hours altogether.

“The sad thing about it,” Q said, “is that it happens every single day. If you’re wearing a suit and tie it’s different, but when you’re wearing something fitted and some jeans, you’re treated as a criminal. It’s sad that people have to go through this on a daily basis, for what?”

Here’s the raw audio file of my interview with Q:


  1. DJ
    April 24, 2015 at 9:21 am

    When dealing with police, one needs to use an app that automatically uploads recordings to remote storage, with no way to delete from the device.


  2. April 24, 2015 at 9:39 am

    This is awful. I’m from the Bronx too, but I had a run-in with the cops when I lived in LA. They put me in handcuffs for jaywalking and said it was because I “might be dangerous.”

    Although with the developments in the past year, maybe I’m lucky that that’s all they did?


  3. Su Sanni
    April 24, 2015 at 10:29 am

    How incredibly frustrating. Thanks for sharing Qs story. Unfortunately there are too many of these type of stories told/untold every day.


  4. Steven
    April 24, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    This is a top down problem, for a really good understanding of how racism was imposed or at least exacerbated by politicians read “The Police Tapes” at the Village Voice and make note of the year of the recordings


  5. chaletfor2
    April 24, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Do these miserable cops get any training or are they trained by similar social misfits?


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