So yesterday I saw my bike and helmet for the first time after the crash. A big chunk of metal ground off the left pedal. Serious scrapes on the ends of the brake levers and on top of the brake lever assemblies. Seat’s out of alignment. So, looks like a fall to the left side, possibly with the bike going upside down (explains the brake lever scratches on top of both right and left brake levers). Consistent with all my left-side bruises and scrapes (except for one concentrated bruise on my inner right thigh, which I think must’ve been the handlebar stem or maybe the handlebar end as I went forward…).
Foam on the inside of the helmet is cracked. Here’s the creepier thing, though. There are gouges on the left outside of the helmet, right where my head hurts and over where the crack is. But the gouges are spread out over a couple square inches of the hard-shell helmet, and they’re all alike—same depth, same directions (a couple millimeters in one direction, then a centimeter or two in another direction). But this is where there’s a real curvature to the helmet. To me, this means that the impact was hard enough to flatten a section of the hard-shell helmet out, so that the gouges are all the same, regardless of the curvature. (Forgive my getting all CSI…)
Next step: I want to go to where I think the accident happened and see if there are scratches in the pavement. I don’t think you can grind that much metal off the pedal and not have a scratch on the concrete.
An Open Letter to District 2 Police Commander Rhonda Jones, by Lisa Calderone of Fix Broken Policing
An Open Letter to District 2 Police Commander Rhonda Jones
(Police Bullies Violating New Consent to Search Law)
July 29, 2010
At approximately 8:00pm this evening, shortly after a neighborhood meeting where Denver Police Department (DPD) officials talked about being responsive to community concerns, I noticed several police cars cruising up and down Downing Street between Bruce Randolph and 26th Avenue. One of these cruisers caught my eye when I saw two white officers in a patrol car without a police number on it, point at a Latino youth who was texting on his phone walking down the street. The officers quickly rounded the block, speeding to catch up with him since he was walking in the opposite direction. I commented to my husband who was in the car with me that the teenager wasn’t doing anything but walking down the street. He wasn’t wearing gang colors, or behaving in any manner that should have provoked a police response. I followed behind the officers to see what they would do next. They lost sight of the youth who had entered a grocery store.
The officers then sped off down Downing St. where they stopped two African American teens on bicycles. They made them sit on the curb in public view on the busy street, and had them empty their pockets. The officers also parked their southbound car on the wrong-way side of the road, stopping northbound traffic in front of Gilliam Detention Center. Not finding anything on these teens, the officers let them go. These boys were not dressed in gang colors or engaging in any behavior that would signify criminal behavior.
The officers then sped off again around the corner and stopped an elderly Black man. They had him empty his pockets. After questioning, and not finding anything incriminating, laughing, they let him go. By this time I had seen enough of their antics. I approached them and said “Excuse me officers, I would like your cards and I notice that your cruiser doesn’t have an identifying number.” I told them that I saw them pulling over Black males, detaining and questioning them apparently without cause.
The officer on the passenger side, M. Laughlin (06017) told me that they could pull over anyone they wanted regardless if they were Black, Brown, etc. so long as they had probable cause. I asked him “What probable cause did you have for pulling over Black kids and an old Black man who weren’t doing anything wrong?” He said “I don’t have to tell you that.” His shouting at me caught the attention of my husband who then got out of our car to make sure I was ok. I told Officer Laughlin that I wanted his card, and he said he didn’t have to give it to me. I told him I just came from a community meeting with Chief Whitman, and I will be sure to tell him about this officer who didn’t have to give his card on request. He then said that he was out of cards but that he would write his name for me. The other officer, Adam Golden (06157) didn’t say much, and gave me his card as requested. He also wrote down Officer Laughlin’s name and badge number at my request. I told them that I would be filing a complaint.
I then went over to the elderly Black man and asked him what happened. He said that he was coming to tend to the grass that he waters every evening. The police stopped him saying there was suspicious activity in the area and wanted to know where he was going and what he was doing. They then ordered him to turn his pockets inside-out and frisked him. Not finding anything, they seemed to joke about it, laughing, after they were done with him. The elder stated that he understands the police are in the neighborhood because of the crime in the area, and he wants the police to help protect people; but he’s tired of being harassed by white officers who are rude and disrespectful to Black people.
His friends who had witnessed the incident also stated that they were tired of the harassment. I gave them my number and told them if they had any more problems with the police, or knew of people who did, to contact me and we would work with the Colorado Progressive Coalition to get complaints filed because it is important to speak up against police mistreatment and abuse if we want it to stop.
These two white officers with shaved heads went on a spree to catch Blacks and Latinos, even when they knew good and well that they had no legal cause to stop them. By shaking people down, they moved from person-to-person hoping to get lucky by finding contraband, which seems to me to be an incredibly lazy and sloppy way to do police work. Further, they seemed to find pleasure in their domination over Black, Brown and poor folks knowing they would not likely assert their rights. I found their conduct despicable, acting like bullies who could do and say whatever they wanted and get away with it, which I’m sure they will.
These two jokers need to be reassigned out of our neighborhood in District 2, and required to attend cultural sensitivity training. Further, they obviously need remediation training in the police academy on issues of courtesy and the correct application of the probable cause statute. They also need to be aware of the new Consent to Search law that requires police in the absence of probable cause to inform the detainee of their right to refuse the search. I believe these officers violated this law. Apparently, we community organizers now need to step-up our community Know Your Rights trainings so that the residents are familiar with this law since the police are already violating it.
Like many of my complaints about police harassment and racial profiling that result in nothing but a dismissal, or at most a slap on the wrist for an officer’s failure to give a business card, I don’t expect anything to come from this complaint. But I do want you to know, that there is a rising intolerance of white police officers invading communities of color, which will inevitably impede policing progress, and only increase tensions in the community.
“Suspicious activity” by these officers appeared to be DWB: Driving (or Walking) While Black/Brown. We are tired of thugs and bullies in this neighborhood, and it makes it worse when they wear badges.
So somewhere along my bike commute back home Tuesday evening, I must’ve had a pretty serious bike crash. I barely remember the start of the ride, and the next thing I remember is it’s about four hours later and I’m in the hospital with Rocky and my folks and they’re cleaning my scraped-up elbow. Here’s what we’ve reconstructed:
I’ve spent many years traveling—backpacking, hitchhiking, motorcycle travel…through Europe, Mexico and Central America, Europe again, the Near East, and parts of North Africa. Two trips were one year each; one trip was five years long.
There’s a subset of travelers like I was: long-term, long-distance, ultra-frugal, and very self-reliant. Lots of Australians (reasoning was: you pay that much to get from Oz, you wanna make the most of it). Some Americans, Brits, Germans. It was a real fraternity, you know? In hostels upon meeting other travelers, there was always the “How long have you been traveling? Where’ve you been?” questions and answers between travelers.
Something I noticed about myself when traveling was that I didn’t highlight the fact that I was American. First, I couldn’t stand a lot of the American government’s policies. Secondly, I didn’t want to be associated with the “American tourist” stereotype. But there’s a third reason that I just realized.
I think that my goal was to become “transnational.” I didn’t want to be perceived as an American. But most places, I couldn’t pass for a local, because of skin color, language, or the fact that I was hauling a huge rucksack and had incredibly beat-up clothes/shoes/gear (or a Colorado-license-plated motorcycle!). Yet I spent some real time in many of these countries. I learned at least a few words in each language. I didn’t stay in “tourist” hotels. I was fascinated by cultures and loved learning about different folklore, traditions, superstitions, etc..
I think that what I—and maybe other travelers like me—was trying to be was “transnational” (a word whose meaning I am just making up right now). Not beholden to one tradition or culture or country, but experiencing many of them, learning from them, enjoying the best of them. Staying in a city or a place for a week or a month or a year because you liked it. (I’m not saying you can absorb an entire culture in a week or a month or a year. But you’ll learn more than someone who comes for a weekend.) Noticing the details. Talking to people. Definitely not insulating yourself in an air-conditioned hotel room or eating only in tourist restaurants. Definitely not “America, fuck yeah, our way or the highway!” National labels become unimportant compared to what you’ve done, where you’ve been, and what you’ve seen.
Have to decide if we want to plant some things next year. Radishes, for example, are cool because they grow fast, but for $.50 at the supermarket, you can get a bunch of radishes that equals your radish harvest. Carrots didn’t even grow this year. Beets came out really tiny. (Is there something we need to be doing to get these root veggies to grow big in their roots rather than just huge tops? Is it a weather/watering thing?) I’m wondering if it’s just kind of not worth the seeds, time, water, and weeding to get just a half-dozen radishes or beets (or zero carrots). Perhaps we should concentrate on plants that will really yield some harvest we can use, like the tomatoes or squash or herbs. Would like to plant more lettuce, too, as that’s been really useful for sandwiches and such.
Other things: I’ll skip the cat grass next year, or just plant it in a planter. And we definitely need a whole bed for squash on its own, since it really doesn’t want to be confined to one square foot. A friend is having a lot of luck with beans, but ours never got beyond seedling stage. And I need to put the tomatoes on an inner row, rather than against the edge of the garden, because in their cages it’s really hard to reach past them to do weeding.
Buntport is my favorite local theater company. Yesterday we went to see their “Debate Tuesdays,” in which they have two debate teams of four people each, debating a topic. Yesterday’s was: “Boston (the band or the city) versus Chicago (the band or the city).” It was hilarious! I was in the Boston camp, but it ended up losing to Chicago.
Next debate (I’ll have to check the date) is “Kevin Bacon versus Bacon.”
Next garden bed I put in, I will line the edges with black plastic or something, to keep the weeds along the outside from growing up inside the garden.
Also, I’m going to look into hose splicing kits. Right now I have a soaker hose hooked up to the faucet, running over to the herb garden, winding its way through that, then looping over the edges before winding its way through the veggie garden bed. Which is the best way I can do it, but what happens is the parts outside the garden bed (tap to herbs, herbs to veggies) soak everything to mud. I’m wondering if I can buy a cheapie hose, cut it up, and splice that into the soaker hose, so outside the bed = regular hose; inside the beds = soaker hose. That would be awesome. I’m going to have to wait until after the garden’s down for the winter to do this, though.
Morocco is a cool place for shoppers. The handicrafts are varied and interesting and beautiful (though there’s also a lot of tourist dreck, and a lot of the same stuff). The town of Essaouria is famous for its workshops in thuya (juniper) wood, which has an incredible perfume, and as you walk down the streets of craftsmen and shops, the smell is wonderful! I bought a lot of juniper-wood stuff, a couple textile things (not the fancy woven rugs, as lovely as they were, they were a bit dear for a poor traveler like me. Also I’d have to ship them home!), some cool jewelry, a small ceramic drum, and lots more. I carried it all to Gibraltar and mailed it from there, but it turned out to be cheaper to mail it in 2-kilo packages, so I had to divide up all my loot into a dozen small packages. In one market I bought a chameleon that I kept as a pet for about a week, before setting it loose on my way back to Spain. He was really cute…I called him (unoriginally) Godzilla.
“You just peeled an apple, getting one length of peel, and threw the peel behind you; it’d land in the shape of [the loved one’s] name. Millions of girls had tried it and had inevitably been disappointed, unless the loved one was called Scscs.”—Terry Pratchett
To thank me for helping with her thesis, Rocky took me out to eat last night, any place I chose. I picked a place called Karma, 22 S. Broadway. It was reviewed in the paper ages ago, and I’d kept the review in case we ever got a chance to go. We ordered pretty much what the reviewer had liked, and it was fantastic! We both had Thai iced teas, and Pineapple-Cheese Wontons, and Chicken Satay for appetizers, then Rocky had a really tasty shrimp and I had a pork-chop curry. Everything was great—I really recommend it if you’re downtown.
If I were ever homeless, I would use some panhandled money and buy nails and rope. Then I’d get a bunch of waste wood and milk jugs and build myself a raft. I’d set up a tent on the raft and anchor it out in a river somewhere. No one would bother you! Bonus points if you could find a river that’s the border between two cities…if one city’s cops came to bother you, just pole over to the other side where they don’t have jurisdiction. (Note: I’m talking like, Colorado rivers here. The ones that are a few feet deep tops. Not like, the Hudson or anything).
4. Old Spice Guy writes, in the comments section of Ms. Breslin’ article, a thank you, including a short video to Susannah (her name, and in the video, quotes her words from the article…no CGI trickery here).