My Fear Of Always Being Watched By Police

by Joi Smith
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I hear my heart beating as if I have earphones plugged into my pulse. My body tenses up, and you’d think I just committed the worst crime. But I’ve done nothing wrong. This is my body’s reflex to being watched, and it’s happening too often.

My friends and I could be just cruising the streets of Oakland. No one is committing any crimes, but as soon as the police car appears in the rear view mirror, “aye bruh 5-0 behind us.” Everyone starts to fidget. but not too much because they don’t want to raise suspicion. I wonder why I get this feeling? Maybe because I feel police always assume the worst about my and my friends.

But at least when the cops turn away, you know they’re not looking anymore.

Now, there’s a camera at every corner, taking our pictures and reading our license plates Oakland has a data surveillance center with over a hundred cameras and streetlight posts around the city. Not knowing exactly who will see me in a recording, and knowing that the moment can be replayed forever, leaves me feeling watched every time I make a move.


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