I never really liked the police. I felt like they were against young people and that they abused their power. I wanted people to know how youth are treated by police in the city where I live, Oakland, California, so I decided to write about my experiences in a radio commentary.
The commentary went farther than I expected -- all the way to Chris Magnus, the chief of police in Richmond, California.
Police treat my neighborhood in West Oakland like they’re on a playground, toying with young men like kids. I remember a time when my friend and I were minding our own business, just talking and chilling in front of my house. Two cops pulled up and started asking us why we were standing outside, if we were on probation, or if we had tattoos. Imagine going outside to read a book on your porch, and two cops pull up to question you. That’s what happened to us.
It was a good feeling, knowing my thoughts reached a man in such a high position. For him to acknowledge my work was a big deal.0 It made me have more respect for the Richmond police, and made me think the police chief where I live should be paying more attention.My producers at Youth Radio contacted Chief Magnus for a one-on-one to discuss how to improve relations between young people and the police. I was really glad that the chief wanted to speak with me personally. Here’s a short clip of the conversation:
After my sit down with Chief Magnus, I got the feeling that some police officers are trying to understand young people, and that they are not against us. I also walked away with a better understanding of how to address cops the right way. So much of the drama between young people and police is unnecessary. I hope this conversation begins to improve that relationship.