Chris works on a farm by day and works for a security company at nights, two jobs to make ends meet. Today he came in to see me, he also provides some basic services through my business to the Jamaica men and women who do seasonal work on farms in Dutchess and Ulster Counties New York.
Chris was unable to do much of anything to earn a living today, though he came in wearing farm clothes, he was on his way to traffic court in the Town of Poughkeepsie right here in Dutchess County.
He asked me jokingly, what would happen to him if he is late for court, I told him they would likely issue a warrant for his arrest, he laughed and hurried left.
I thought about his chances as walked briskly away, I concluded to myself that he is in for a rough time in that court, which for all intents and purpose is a cash factory for the county. The Town of Poughkeepsie court churns out millions from largely the poorest residents of the county who can least afford to pay the humungous fines meted out for the slightest traffic infractions.
The Town’s officers are largely discourteous, arrogant and are almost 100% white-male. They use the route 9 corridor as a feeding tree for writing tickets, but they are to be found hiding in bushes on literally every little roadway which snake their ways throughout the town.
Main street runs through the city to the Town where it forks into Routes 44 and 55, both arteries run through the town.
Many of their traffic stops end up in the city. Other stops begin in the city because they follow motorists into the city from the town before initiating traffic stops. As you may well imagine their victims are usually black and brown motorists, who make up the bulk of the city’s residents, In other words, people who look like Chris.
For years people have complained about this police department. This including a 2014 Essay published by Gawker and written by Kiese Laymon, an associate professor of English and a contributing editor at Gawker. It began with the author at a traffic stop, being chastised by a white officer from the department.
“After taking my license and ID back to his car, he came to me with a ticket and two lessons,” Laymon wrote. “ ‘Looks like you got a good thing going on over there at Vassar College,’ he said. ‘You don’t wanna ruin it by rolling through stop signs, do you?’ “
Laymon says that was the fourth time a local police officer had told him his job made everything “O.K.,” a phrase that inspired the essay’s title, “My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK.”
About an hour and a half later Chris walked in, he conceded he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Then he told me that the prosecutor told him he had reduced the seat-belt violation to a non-moving violation. He was encouraged to plead to a parking violation for which he was forced to pay $175.
That’s in addition to losing a whole day of work.
There is no legal justification for breaking the laws. However, when a poor person who makes such a small mistake is forced to pay such a high price and the system uses the guise of a reduced charge, one has to reasonably conclude that he was spared the moving violation just so that he could go make more money for them to steal.
All across America, the poorest people who can least afford it are being used as cash cows to feed city and town coffers and funding budgets.
At a time when misguided black apostates masquerading as pastors are meeting with Trump about prison reform, these are the real issues affecting the poorest Americans.
Unfortunately, these pastors make a mockery of themselves, they do not speak for the black community and generally have no influence in the black community.
In essence, these photo-ops with Trump have zero to do with the community and everything to do with the egos of these disgusting opportunists.
If Donald Trump wanted to have meaningful conversations about prison reform he would have picked up the phone and speak to Reverend William Barber. He could call Congressman John Lewis over to the White House. He is free to call Michelle Alexander and many others who can engage him in substantive consultations on this pressing issue. Instead, he chooses to consult with lackeys and stool pigeons who have no influence and are only engaged in it for themselves.