Plates, Turn Signals, And Taillights


For those of you following along at home, which appears to be the safest place to be, minor traffic violations now appear to be punishable by death. I watched the video of the last moments of Samuel DuBose’s life. The camera was conveniently located on the shooter, a University of Cincinnati police officer who had stopped DuBose, age 43, because his car lacked a front license plate.

I asked Sally if the dealership had mounted her front plate. She had driven the last three months without it. With that resolved I found time to get to the Toyota dealership. I’ve been driving my new Avalon without a front plate since June 5th. Not anymore. I’m writing this from the dealership’s waiting room.

How have we come to this? Or worse, has anything really changed? Are we just finally seeing a more complete picture of our society?

I watched the Sandra Bland arrest. That could have been me. Really. I can be sarcastic. I can be edgy. I wear both my heart and my contempt on my sleeve. And I might not have been able to hide my disgust of the officer’s tactics. There are days when I am just not in the mood for chicken-shit power games.

My immediate reaction while watching the Sandra Bland video was shock. Then relief. After all, I don’t expect to ever pass through Waller County, Texas. I’m not booking flights to Alabama. I’m not running to Mississippi.

DuBose was killed in Cincinnati.

Too close to home. And yes, I am the guy in the picture. And if you see MIDDLE AGED WHITE GUY, cool. But as a Jew of Ashkenazi heritage, I have always identified as Other. And there has never been a shortage of television preachers, politicians, and even my childhood teachers to reinforce that perspective. And Other is Other. I realize that I can pass as part of the majority. I just have to keep very quiet.

The police officer (I won’t name him) who shot Samuel DuBose was wearing a camera. The camera didn’t stop him from shooting DuBose. The camera didn’t prevent him from falsifying his report. The camera didn’t make him a better cop or a better human being. No, the camera limited him to only one victim.

Dash-cam cameras and policy body-mounted cameras won’t solve every problem or bring back the dead, but they are an important step. We need to protect the police from false claims and we need to protect the citizenry, all of us, from abuses of power and fatal errors.

Fixing a taillight shouldn’t be a matter of life or death.