Home > family, Personal > Stolen and gone forever.

Stolen and gone forever.

July 26, 2007

This weekend I had something stolen from me and my family that can never be replaced, no matter what I do, no matter who I call, no matter how hard I try I can never get it back. Some things can never be replaced and you never really place any value on them until they are gone, but once they’re gone you soon realize the true value of what you once had.

When you look at your child it is easy to forget that you as a parent to them are lager than life, that there is nothing in the mind of your child that you cannot do, that you and your family are all that this child knows. I once came across a saying that read: “In the mind of a child, Mother is just another word for god.”

Now rather you’re a mother or a father, if you really think about it, there can be no truer statement made about the relationship between a parent, any parent, and a child. Mother’s kisses heal all wounds, fathers can fix anything, and there is that age old saying that everyone has heard at one point or another; “My dad can beat up your dad!”

These things are not just things that a child thinks, or believes, these are things that children KNOW. These things are at the core of a child’s belief system, and as a parent it is easily forgotten the kind of power that you wield over your child’s life… until you find yourself powerless in their eyes.

You try, you fight… you fight tooth and nail, until you sweat blood, and you do so willingly without an ounce of remorse in those situations, to regain control. You give all that you have until you don’t have even an the smallest amount fight left in you, then you you look at your child, you look her in the eyes, and you see… you see so clearly, with a clarity that you have never felt before that “YOU CANNOT GIVE UP!”

If in the face of adversity you cannot overcome, then you must handle yourself with as much dignity as humanly possible. You must… you must hold your head up high no matter how hard the burden, no matter how heavy the cross you bear, you bear it with a smile… for your child, for your daughter, for her innocence, and you do so willingly because despite all of your flaws, you are a good parent! And as a good parent you would sacrifice all that you have, all that you are, mind, body and soul to protect your child and insure her well being.

This weekend… this weekend I would have gladly given my life to ensure that my daughter never had to experience such a thing, this weekend I was powerless to protect her, this weekend she had something taken from her that can never be replaced. This weekend she lost part of her innocence, and rather she realizes it or not, things will never be able to go back to the way they were. This weekend my daughter encountered for the first time in here life… racism, or more accurately “racial profiling”.

While out sight seeing along “Coastal Ohio” with my wife and daughter we found our selfs in a small town, which against my better judgment, shall remain nameless. Now as we were entering town I distinctly remember looking at the posted speed limit (35 mph) to make sure that my wife was not speeding, and because I know how small town cops can be, especially along a tourist rout. Not too far beyond the speed limit sign there happened to be a police car sitting along the side of the road clocking people with his radar gun, no sweat we weren’t speeding anyway, but sure enough as we passed him I seen him make eye contact with me and pull out behind us. I figured since we were going slow enough for him to make eye contact he probably noticed that I wasn’t wearing my seat belt and was going to give me a ticket, no one to blame but myself on that one though… es la vida.

The speed limit lowered to 25 mph not too long after the police officer got behind us so of course I was going to make sure that my wife adjusted her speed accordingly with a cop following us, I wasn’t just going to give him any more reason to pull us over if he wasn’t going to do so already, hay I’ll just count my blessings and be out, we were almost to the edge of town anyway… that’s when the lights came on behind us.

As I mentioned my wife was driving, witch put me in the passenger seat, and that’s directly where the cop came to. As he approached the window I was tempted to try and slip my seat belt on and hope he that he wouldn’t notice, but I decided against it. I figured if he wanted to nail me for a seat belt violation I’d let him. I never understood why people would give police officers a hard time or try to lie to them anyway, their just doing their jobs.

He went through all the usual stuff of “license and registration” with my wife, and proceeded to tell us that he had clocked us going 35 in a 25. My wife and I both tried to explain to him that we knew we weren’t speeding because by the time we had entered the 25 mph zone we already knew he was behind us, but his reply was “well I have you clocked at 35 mph.”

OK whatever I’m not going to argue with him he obviously don’t want to hear what I have to say anyway, I know we slowed down to 25 when the speed limit changed, but I’m not going to lose my cool, “just stay polite and don’t give him a hard time.”

He went back to his car for a moment, I guess to run my wife’s license and the registration, then asked me to step out of the vehicle so that he could “update” some of my information. Update “my” information? He hadn’t even asked me “my” name yet, but what are you going to do? As I stepped out of the car he grabbed me, threw me against the hood of his car, and proceeded to search me, empty my pockets and repeatedly tell me that if I told him where the dope was he would take it easy on me.

So here I am on the side of the road, slammed against the hood of a cop car, getting the third degree, and all I can hear is my daughter in the car crying and screaming “please don’t shoot my daddy!” over and over again, all while trying not to lose my temper and give him any reason to arrest me.

After he searched me, he proceeded to place a pair of hand-cuffs on me, for “my safety” and place me in his police cruiser. That’s when he decided to ask for my name and social security number, so that he could run my information. The whole time he kept asking me if I had any “illegal drugs or weapons” in my car, each time phrasing it differently, like I was going to forget that I had already told him no to both, repeatedly.

I never lost my temper. I stayed calm and polite the whole time, partly because I was hoping that if he seen that I was a decent guy he would lighten up, but mostly because I was scared for the safety of myself and my family.

He asked me if he could take a look around my vehicle, to which I told him that he could, because by saying no I would have only given him more reason to suspect me of doing something wrong. He asked my wife to step out of the car with my daughter, and have a seat in the lawn of the house that we were stopped in front of.

That’s when it happened, that’s when I realized that something that didn’t really surprised me, had just totally shaken the world that my 3 year old daughter had lived in. As I looked at my daughter sitting in the grass with tears in her eyes, my wife trying to calm her, while this “officer of the law” proceeded to toss all of our belongings on the side of the road, I realized that this cop had not just degraded me in front of my family and a few strangers who had come out of their houses, but he had taken something from my daughter that could never be replaced. He had stolen part of her innocence, he had taken something that was relatively pure, and tainted it a little. He had forcedly exposed my daughter to something that I had tried to shield her from for all of her short life, not to mention that now she would have the image of me hand-cuffed in the back of a police car permanently burned into her memory.

At that point, that’s when the real battle began, not the battle to prove myself innocent, not the battle to keep my temper under control, but the battle to not break down into tears in front of my wife and daughter, the battle to maintain my dignity. I was not going to let this fucking cop see me cry, I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he had broken me, I was going to keep my head up high, and bear the burden of this cross with a smile… for the sake of my daughter. I wasn’t going to voluntarily let him take more from her that he already had. For the sake of my child I swallowed my pride and took the emotional beating and the verbal lashes silently so that my child would not have to be exposed to them.

When it was all said and done, after terrorizing me and my family for over 45 minutes on the side of the road, I was informed that he was unable to find anything in my car, and that my family and I were free to go as soon as we gathered our things off of the ground and put them back into our car.

Without so much as an apology for the way that we were treated, we were dismissed and given some excuse about there being a lot of drug trafficking in the area and me fitting some kind of general description, because apparently in this town there are a lot of 30 year old Mexicans trafficking drugs while their 3 year old daughters are in the car with them. No ticket for the bullshit speeding charge, no citation for not wearing my seat belt, no reminder to drive safely, just “pick up your shit and be on your way,” as he irritably got into his car and pulled off.

I’ve tried not to let this experience bother me, I know not all police officers are like this, I’ve really tried not to dwell on the events of that Sunday afternoon, but I can’t help it. To someone that has never had to deal with something like this it may not seem like a big deal, but until you’ve been singled out over something as stupid as your racial background, and been degraded in front of you family like you were sub-human, like you’re not worthy of the respect that is afforded to others, I guess you can never really understand what truly transpired that day on the side of the road in rural Ohio.

Me? I feel victimized… I feel violated, but most of all I feel helpless, and as a parent let me tell you, there is no feeling in the world worse than feeling helpless to defend your family.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not the type to play the “race card”, and generally look down on people who do, because in all honesty it really is overused… but I’m Mexican, I’ve been Mexican all my life, and I know when someone is talking to me in a demeaning manner. I know when terms like “Homie” and “Vato” are being used as terms of endearment, or are being used in jest, or just simply used with a connotation that is meant to degrade and humiliate you, and let me tell you; this officer was not joking with me nor was he trying to befriend me that day.

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  1. Liz
    August 17, 2007 at 8:01 am

    This is terrible. It makes me angry that your daughter was exposed to such a horrifying experience. She’s too young to relate it to racial profiling now but later on she will and will never forget what she saw her dad go through. People can be so cruel and inhumane. If it’s even true, I understand this cop’s need to check you out — but the need for violence? Then he doesn’t apologize even when he was proved wrong. I don’t get it.

    At least your daughter will always remember the strength you showed during the ordeal. I’d hate to think that this experience will make her see herself as a victim because of her race. I’m sure you’ll even this experience out with reassurances of your rich culture. Thank you for sharing this. I hope things will turn out well with you and your family.

  2. Dave
    November 6, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    I am sad this happened in my state. In my country. In my world.

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