Smith : An unpleasant slice of life in N.Y.C.by Jeff Smith on Oct. 05, 2007, under Opinion
Once George Washington had sired the United States of America, the good people of our infant nation decided to make it official by electing him their first president.
And he, like the host of a shotgun wedding, groped for an appropriate manner in which to say howdy and thanks and here’s what we’re going to do.
This was America’s first inaugural address. and it took place on Wall Street, in New York City, which, for the time, became the global capital of human freedom.
No country on Earth, before or since, has codified human freedom, human rights, human dignity and stake in the government that serves them, as has the United States of America.
So why then was my baby girl arrested, handcuffed and carted off to jail, for having a pocketknife, while she and her husband and brother were about to board the subway in New York City?
You and I have watched hundreds of reruns of “NYPD Blue,” so we know how it goes down.
The “how it goes down” is if a cop comes into the precinct house and tells the sergeant he popped this lady for carrying a pocketknife, the sergeant tells the collar to take a hike, have a nice day, and we hope you won’t think ill of New York City on account of this eager beaver who is being busted back to uniform, writing parking tickets.
In Liza’s case, the reality is far less realistic.
In Liza’s case, this thuggishlooking dude shuffles up, gestures toward her pants pocket and says,”‘What’s this?”
Liza looks down at the clip hanging at the hem of her pocket and says it’s her pocketknife, whereupon she gets arrested and cuffed. The undercover cop – we’ll call him Serpico – asks what’s it for, and Liza makes the second-worst decision of the month (the worst being to go to New York in the first place) and tells him, “For self-defense.”
She told the truth which, seemingly, is the wrong thing to do in New York City when you’re a hick from Tucson, with nothing but common sense and a working knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, to serve you as Guide Michelin.
By the time the cop gets Liza to the precinct, he’s heard her bio, got a bit acquainted with her character and tells her he’d just as lief cut her loose. But the wheels of justice have been set in motion and only the sergeant can make that call. Himself won’t even poke his head out the office door and size up the collar – my little girl – to see she represents no threat to municipal peace and security.
“Book her,” is all he contributes to this jurisprudential vignette, and Liza is locked in a cell. For having a pocketknife – not some kung fu, switchblade, machinery of murder – a pocketknife, like your dad used to peel apples.
And it occurs to me that you could have thrown a rock in any direction – though doubtless felonious in that exotic and corrupted environment – and struck a table full of diners at a five-star restaurant, poised with similar instruments, sharp and potentially lethal, to slice a mouthful of filet au-poivre verte.
• • •
And now, the rest of the story.
• • •
After stewing in a holding cell on into the evening, Liza was released into the company of husband and brother. They spent the following day trying to track down the paperwork so her case could be resolved the next Monday, but no such luck.
She must return, at the not-inconsiderable cost of several days’ lost work and an airplane ticket, for arraignment.
Could she swallow her pride, suppress her righteous indignation and plead out over the phone or the net or the U.S. mail and be done?
Of course not. New York wants to screw with you, and you will be screwed.
Cough up your Christmas money and go face the music in the police state of New York. Of course, the arresting officer will fail to show, and the case will be dismissed.
But you will be injured, pretty seriously, by the law which is supposed to protect you, while the dangerous and the guilty laugh out loud.
I told her to stay here in the land of the sane and the home of concealed carry and tell New York City to go screw itself. But she won’t. She may want to see her brother again someday.
Jeffyboy believes in common sense justice and his children. He may be reached at 520-455-5667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.