The Largest street Gang in America, Part Five: From Sacramento to NY – the good and the bad in police encounters

Again, not every cop is a malignant force, but the trend line in brutality is troubling to say the least.

First from Sacramento, where some positive things are happening. Then to NYC where harassment is the status quo.

Sacramento cop’s encounter with an armed, black youth forever changed how she sees the job

If Sabrina Briggs ever gets tired of being a cop, she might consider a second career as a public speaker.

Testifying Wednesday before the Assembly Select Committee on Community and Law Enforcement Relations and Responsibilities, Briggs, an eight-year veteran of the Sacramento Police Department, sidestepped the stated topic of how to get more women of color like her into the white male-dominated policing profession, and instead told a story from her early days on the force. It was a simple allegory, featuring two characters in a single setting—a patrol car—but did more to illustrate how a one-mission establishment like law enforcement is a crude tool when bludgeoned against complex social failings.

She and her partner were dispatched to a weapons call involving a black male juvenile in possession of a handgun at a park at night.


The story actually begins on the car ride to juvenile hall, Briggs says. She tells the esteemed panel listening raptly that she especially likes to speak with juveniles following an arrest, to figure out what brought them to this moment, age 14, carrying a handgun through the park at night.

Seated behind the wheel of the patrol car with the youth detained in the backseat, the two catch each other’s eyes in the rear view mirror, through the partition grate separating cop from accused.

“I say, ‘Tell me man, what’s going on?’” Briggs relates. “And he says, ‘You know, Officer Briggs, I don’t usually talk to the police. I don’t like the police. But you seem pretty cool, so I’m’a talk to you.’

“He says, ‘Officer Briggs, I don’t know my dad. My mom’s never home. I have three older brothers, and they’re all locked up.'”


“’I have two sisters that I never see. My family is the streets. My family’s the gang. I carry a gun with me, at night, because people don’t like my family and they don’t like me. And I’m scared. I don’t go to school, and I bounce house to house with my family.’”


Briggs’ usual statement of validation, of empathy, proved too inadequate in the face of something so real. She couldn’t bridge the gulf between them that night. Although, if I can speculate why the interaction has stayed with Officer Briggs for so long, the boy certainly got through to her.

“Like Frederick Douglass once said, ‘It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men,’” Briggs tells the panel. “We need to make that extra effort to be there for the youth in the community before they have to rely on the streets for families and role models. From a humanistic standpoint, I want to help these kids build better lives for themselves. From a law enforcement perspective, I have an obligation to prevent crime by helping to create better citizens.”


And the bad

A Bad Arrest, on Video

If this incident hadn’t been captured on tape, Jaleel Fields might be another black male convicted for no good reason

By May 26, 2015

This police video isn’t action-packed. It’s not a dramatic institutional killing captured by a bystander, as in the Eric Garner or Walter Scott cases.

But if you want to understand where the pent-up anger toward police in inner-city neighborhoods comes from, scenes like this – showing the lead-up to the arrest of an 18-year-old from East New York named Jaleel Fields – are a big part of the equation.

This video shows “the everyday harassment kids who grow up like Jaleel go through,” says Martha Grieco, Fields’ attorney. “The cops treat them like garbage from the jump and then lie about it with zero consequences.”


The absurdity began when Fields, who lives not far from where 28-year-old Akai Gurley was killed in an East New York project stairwell by a police bullet last November, decided on February 22nd, 2013, to go to the grocery store.

But when he got downstairs, he ran into a female friend who stopped him. She suggested he go back inside, because there were a bunch of police officers in the building and it was better to steer clear of whatever was going on.


There’s video of the encounter and, in effect what it shows is this guy being harassed, then arrested for “obstructing governmental administration”

… presumably would be 5’7″, 130-pound Jaleel Fields intimidating the two brawny officers out of performing the “official function” of messing with two other kids in the elevator of their own building.

On the basis of these two “offenses,” police arrested Fields. They further claimed he struggled and elbowed one of them outside the elevator, which led to additional charges of attempted assault in the third degree and resisting arrest.



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