Current and former foster youth weigh in on racism and police brutality.
I grew up in Bakersfield, Calif. as a foster child, youth, and young adult. Being that I grew up in foster care I was not always shown the right path, so I was susceptible to making bad friends. Therefore making bad decisions ultimately led to my first encounter with the Bakersfield Police Department. It was a summer day and a few friends of mine were sitting at a park literally minding our own business. It was very hot so my friend kept running through the sprinklers and everything was fine. We were happy but everything changed when an officer pulled toward us, even driving on the grass. The cop rolled up and told me to put my hands on my head and to spread my legs, he left me like this while he questioned my friends who had done absolutely nothing wrong. We were all scared; I was only 15 years old.
When he finally came back to me I grew enough courage to ask what I did wrong and he said I fit the description of someone who had robbed a house. I knew he was making this up and did not understand until I got older that police racially profile. This left me with a bad taste in my mouth for police. As I got older, I understood that a majority of incarcerations are of minority people, hearing every couple of months about an unarmed Black man being shot and killed by police.
The second time I ran into the police was when I got arrested for public intoxication and this was when the cops really did a number on me. When I got arrested, the cop seemed really eager to have control of the situation, but not a healthy way. I was drinking, but I was compliant with the police officer and I believe he felt angered that I was not fighting and was actually obeying what he was saying. I believe he was dying for me to act out and make a bad decision because when he put the cuffs on me he put them on so tight and laughed when I asked if he could loosen them. When we got downtown he was still on a power trip, being very rude while still being inconsiderate of how my wrist would later be affected. When we got in the jail he was being very aggressive while using the cuffs to guide me into my cell. He was bending the cuffs all sorts of ways that caused me to go numb and I left a day later with two sprained wrists, one may have been broken given how swollen it was and how bad it hurt to move it.
I truly believe that this officer was racist because while I sat there that night I did not see anyone else get treated the same way. I felt really sad and angered because I knew I couldn’t do anything and I knew trying would be a waste of time. What happened to me happens every day. For years almost every month an unarmed Black man has been shot and killed by the police. With all this for me to base my judgements on, I do believe in protesting and have been involved in a couple involving I.C.E (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centers, as well as racial equality.
As much as rioting is frowned upon, I also believe it’s an effective way to get the attention that all races are equal and that we are all humans. The anger that I have toward a corrupt system that allows for bigots to put on a uniform and do as they please is shared by millions and it’s justified. All of these issues have directly affected my life in ways I never could have imagined, including being in foster care and being Hispanic. The system takes a look at me and I’m already judged racially, geographically, and by the way I grew up. We need to keep protesting and rioting so the police understand that they are here to protect and serve.