I Don’t Know What To Say Anymore . . .

Happy Friday, Yaaay!  I’m in it today … TGIF, y’all!

Are you familiar with that feeling when you finally HAVE to admit that “things” are already bad!!?  How much worse can “things” get?!?  What do I do now?!?  And what can I say that will make a difference?!?  There are a LOT of tough conversations that need to be conducted regarding some VERY SERIOUS ISSUES . . .  Are YOU ready?  These conversations can’t be “rants” like the world has heard coming from the current occupant of the White House.

It was three years ago from tomorrow – The 4th of July – and I had gotten off a bus with a friend from France, Alex …  We had been staying in the same hostel as he sought to establish a French restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale.  I had already decided to retire abroad based on personal issues, not to mention social issues … and the fact there was something “criminal” that had found its way into the White House.  I had two weeks from the date my flight was to depart from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona.  Traffic on the beach was so congested that one had to leave your car a few miles from the beach and take a shuttle to “The Strip”.  Or, as in me and Alex’s case, take a bus from downtown that would let you off ON “The Strip” which was full of “4th of July” celebrations. There were metal barriers on both sides of the street to keep pedestrians from crossing in the middle of the street – you had to walk to the crosswalk to go to the other side.  After we had pulled the cord so the bus driver could let us off, we both stepped off the bus and into a bicycle lane.  At that moment, a motorcycle officer sped by us yelling, “Get out of the street!”  Being in a festive mood, somewhat wise-cracking mood, I replied in a soft tone, “Where are we supposed to walk?!?”  As I looked at Alex and we chuckled together, I saw the motorcycle cop do a u-turn in the bicycle lane to come back directly to me.

He immediately demanded my identification and told me to sit down on the street’s curb that we had just passed!  Of course, I asked him why was he detaining me and asking for my ID.  He refused to answer, turned beet red under his helmet in the midday heat of the 4th of July in Ft. Lauderdale where the beaches were full of anxious celebrants, partying like “rock stars”!  Again he said, “Give me your ID and sit down!” as he pointed to the tiny curb on the side of the bike lane.  I braced myself and spoke: “Sir, I can’t sit down there.  I have arthritis in both of my hips and cannot sit that low.”  He angrily snatched the metal barrier separating us from the bicycle lane and the wall that decorated the beach and told me to sit on top of the wall.  I again asked the officer who had still not removed his helmet why he was detaining me.  I stated that I am a teacher and had a right to know.  He said, “If you’re so smart, why didn’t you remove the barrier and sit down here then?!?”  He accepted my drivers license and walked angrily away, ordering my friend Alex lo stay away from me.  A small crowd had gathered from the hundreds of celebrants near A-1-A and Las Olas Blvd.

This is a common practice for the police when they want to see if you have any outstanding warrants, complaints, unpaid parking tickets or child support.  They need something to arrest you, and, getting off of the bus in a bicycle lane was not a crime.  After 20 minutes of scouring my “background” in which he found a few but “settled” incidents, he returned with my license and gave me a ticket for “not using the sidewalk when one is available …”   Need I say more?!  I fought the ticket, filed a complaint against the officer and an internal affairs complaint about “racial profiling”.  I had a few visits to the internal affairs office of the FLPD but could only think about “retiring abroad” …  Two weeks later, I flew to Barcelona.  When I came back, I had to pay for an appellate court to hear my case, which I lost but didn’t win … and had to pay $80.00 in court fees in order to KEEP MY LICENSE, which had been suspended while I was in Europe. I took care of it upon my return, saddled up and headed to San Jose, Costa Rica …  The rest is history!

Any more questions about this creature and the harm he has done to the already troubling image of “America … the land of the free the home of the brave” would have to be answered in November 2020.  I can hardly listen to more discoveries about “governmental mismanagement”, inconsistency with the pandemic and horrifying handling of the racial unrest in the country … and the WORLD!  Hey, y’all … let’s have these conversations in a civilized way, seeking to learn and know the truth about ourselves and each other.  We can do this … TOGETHER!  It’s a golden opportunity to “come together”!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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