Have you ever read a story that upset you enough to make your blood boil? The NY Times has one, the story of Nicholas Bowen.
Mr. Bowen was arrested on suspicion of trespassing at a NYC housing project. The charges were later dismissed, but Bowen’s warrant somehow remained alive. In fact he was arrested four times on this dismissed warrant.
That’s a pretty crappy story. I feel bad for Mr. Bowen, a sad guy in his 50s who seems to have little good in his life.
But as bad as his four bogus arrests were, here’s what caused the cops to check if he had anything outstanding:
according to a police report, he was riding his red Schwinn bicycle to a psychiatrist’s appointment and pulled up onto the sidewalk near Linden Boulevard and Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn. He was stopped by the police, who asked for his identification. And when the officers ran it through the system, they found the warrant.
Why was he stopped? He just was riding a bike. This happens almost exclusively to poor people.
Then, on Nov. 13, 2010, Mr. Bowen was stopped by the police a second time. On this occasion, records show, he received a summons for public drinking.
I have a patio where my friends can come and have a few. Mr Bowen has no such luxury. His real crime is being poor.
[O]n Sept. 2, 2012… he was stopped by the police for a third time — for being at a playground after dark.
He was arrested for the mere act of being in the playground after dark. I can’t imagine. This not a law heavily enforced here in Irvine.
[R]iding home from Coney Island on the subway. It was a sweltering afternoon, the air-conditioning in their car was out and Mr. Bowen, still recovering from recent hernia surgery, was suffering from the heat. So he, his girlfriend and several other passengers, he said, walked between two cars while the train was in motion. The police were in the second car, he said, and saw them.
Is this really an arrestable offense, because as a kid I was a serial offender!
What happened to Mr. Bowen would never happen to me a middle aged (shhh — I’m in denial) white guy living in a pretty suburb. And it’s not because I’m a better citizen than he is. We’re picking on the Nicholas Bowens of this world.
His life already sucks. Society makes it suck more. At every turn he is reminded of our collective scorn.
In 1894 Jacques Anatole François Thibault, aka Anatole France, wrote
How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!
Nothing’s changed, has it?