On my way back from Florida State University’s Strozier Library, I decided to ride past Florida A&M University’s Gaither Gym to witness firsthand the spectacle that is homecoming.
I had no intentions of stopping, so after driving by and seeing the let out from the fashion show hadn’t yet commenced, I left.
When I reached a light at the intersection of Gamble and Lake Bradford, the light was green so I made a right just as I’ve done no less than 100 times during my three-year residency in Tallahassee. As I drove, I saw three patrol cars lined on either side of the street.
As I was traveling at only 30 miles per hour, I saw no reason to be alarmed. But sure enough, blue and red lights shone clearly in my rear view mirror, and I was pulled over in the Subway parking lot.
The police officer said that I had failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign located in the right hand lane of the Gamble and Lake Bradford intersection. Regardless of whether the light was green, the cop said, I had been required to stop.
My immediate thought was that I had never before seen anyone stop there when the light was green, and never had I seen violation of this rule enforced. What’s more, I’ve never seen such a frivolous traffic offense being enforced by such a large contingent of policemen.
And then it clicked.
Sure, the infraction was failure to stop at a stop sign that 95 percent of the general public doesn’t acknowledge. But my real crime was being in the vicinity of one of FAMU’s homecoming events, which is perceived by Tallahassee Police Department officials as nothing more than a glorified hotbed of criminal activity.
After I was issued my citation, I saw a cop pull another car over in back of me, and watched in disbelief as another patrol car pulled out to stop yet another.
What’s happening is quite obvious.
TPD has placed FAMU’s homecoming festivities in the crosshairs of an intense, extensive and prejudicial scrutiny that crosses the line of egregiousness when one juxtaposes the manpower, resources and effort used to implement such operations with the positive ideals that homecoming is constructed to promote.
In the capital of a state where it is presumably OK for police to beat a black teenager to death, TPD’s actions are evidence of an apparent tacit complicity among Florida’s police force in the deprivation and or inhibition of blacks’ constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Even after the homecoming events are over, be mindful of the decisions you make because it doesn’t take a canine to smell the odor of injustice wafting about.
Terrence Williams is a junior mass media studies student at Florida State University from Jacksonville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.