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December 08, 2008


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wow, that was depressing.

Poor dog...

Cops hate poor people? Give me a break! This guy exuded some serious attitude in his writing. He probably mouthed off to the police officer and after that it doesn't matter if you are the poorest person on Earth or the richest. They won't respect you and you will NOT get your way.

Sounded like a lot of self-righteous whining to me. The only one I felt sorry for was the dog.

I did sense some attitude in the writing, but as someone who used to be there with a small daughter there is some validity to his points. It isn't that cops hate poor people but you have a bunch of family types driving in their nice or even just ok cars looking normal and then you had us in our beat up please don't break down car. When I was poor but still had a car, I did get stopped way more often than I ever do now. When I was poor I must have gotten stopped 6-9 times in a year. I honestly can't remember the last time I have been stopped. I have never mouthed off to a cop, and have worked with them when I was at my old job. I have massive respect for the job that they do. Poor people are more angry and more likely to be in trouble than someone who is comfortable.

Also you get targeted by people, such as the person who sold us the car. They know you can't go anywhere else.

Two other things I remember from being that poor. People expect you to be a certain way. I wasn't suppose to enjoy culture and art, and people were surprised at how well I spoke. You are suppose to fit a stereotype and they sometimes get mad at you when you don't.

The second is that it is really hard to dig yourself out. I can understand why some people don't.

These comments are interesting. About 5 years ago my husband and I moved to the "poor section" of town because we weren't going pay the going prices in real estate (we live in CA) and my attitude towards police have changed since we moved here and we are not poor. The difference is that police let a lot slide when you are upper/middle class, ie "respectable" unless they have a reason. When you are poor they can make your life absolutely miserable. I sense that police view me differently because of where I choose to live. I was never stopped for not having a front license plate on my car of 10 years until I moved to this neighborhood. As a side note, I have a lot less respect for the police at this point in my life because I feel that here in America (and CA) we have so many rules, it is impossible to live life without breaking some of them, that police can go after you for something if they decide too. I never had that attitude about police until I moved here. For those of you who thinks this guy has too much "attitude", you try walking in the shoes of the poor for awhile.

Something tells me all you nay-sayers have never been harassed by cops.

I once had a co-worker who for a number of years drove clunkers (aka Dave Ramsey 'beaters'). Eventually, when his grandmother stopped driving, she gave him her (nice) car. He claimed that he was stopped by cops frequently while driving clunkers, but this stopped once he started driving his grandmother's car.

Several years ago I had an extended hospitalization during which my car - which was parked at the end of the driveway furthest from the street, with two other cars parked directly behind it closer to the street - received a number of tickets because the tags were expired. (My neighborhood was openly targeted for strong enforcement of all local codes.) As I was in hospital and didn't even know about the tickets until it was too late to contest them, I ended up with several hundred dollars in fines which I cannot pay, and a suspended license until the tickets are resolved. (I was unable to work for another year, so my family relocated me, and I can no longer resolve the tickets in person.) So, I have lost driving privileges for the indefinite future.

When you are poor, many events which would otherwise be minor inconveniences, can seriously impair your life. (This is a particularly good reason why You Need An Emergency Fund.)

Being poor is expensive.

Compelling story indeed. Still, the author seems a lot more bitter than the other commenters who once experienced poverty. Maybe because their poverty was further in the past, but maybe some persons are more resilient than others.

I really hope life doesn't get this hard for people.

Huh. Qualification: I used to be a cop.

Cops in general don't hate the poor. Deep inside our cynical hearts, we do care.

However, if you drive a car with something wrong on it, we have to stop you. We stop all cars, regardless the condition, if we see a problem. You could be a road hazard to yourself and others, and it's our job to stop these things. That's really all there is to it.

That said, generally speaking, old, beat-up cars will have more mechanical issues than decent cars. So, it may seem like there's some kind of profiling, but that's not exactly it. You can have the most beat-up car you want, but if your tags are up-to-date, you don't have any mechanical issues that we can see, etc, then we'll leave you alone. Heck, I drive an old car too.

Unfortunately, some people, failing to see anything beyond their own personal ignorance really, brilliantly deduce that cops don't ticket people because they have an expired tag. No, that couldn't possibly be it. They ticket people because they are poor! They have a thing against the poor!

Seriously, does that even make any sense?

And yet, because some people are convinced of this, they have a preconceived prejudice against anyone in uniform. They come to hate and loathe a group of people based on nothing more than what they wear for work and what they stand for. They themselves become a hypocrite, being accused of being profiled, when in fact, they are profile all cops.

I can't tell you how many times I was cussed and spit on just for being who I am at work. They know nothing about who I am. We've never met. And contrary to their accusations, I don't even have anything against them. But because they are so convinced of being victimized by my presence, and because they are being so hateful, that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Why, yes, I DO have a problem with you now. But not for being poor. That's not a crime, but a tragedy. However, I have a problem for being cussed and spit at, and for refusing to be cooperative with me. And, oh yes, we are going to take special care of you now.

I'm rambling, but here are my tips for dealing with the cops: Simply keep your tags up-to-date if you have a vehicle. Then you wouldn't end up with a ticket in the first place. If you do get a ticket and you want to contest it, please take it up with the magistrate, not us. We are law enforcers, not law deciders. And finally, please try to be friendly and cooperative. I guarantee you a preconceived hatred towards us isn't going to improve your situation.

I had a lot of issues with his article, and I wish he'd have explained what series of unfortunate events landed him in abject poverty.

However, the idea that the cops stopped him for having expired insurance really stumped me. How did the cop see into his glovebox to check the date of his insurance policy before he stopped him? There must have been some other cause to stop him, even if it was some minor infraction.

I've carried insurance on my vehicle for years, and every six months I get a new certificate in the mail for the next six months, prior to actually paying the bill. My insurance company has a thirty day grace period before they actually cancel the policy, so I suspect he was farther behind than just two weeks on making his payment, unless he was on some sort of month-to-month deal with a flaky insurance company. It just doesn't add up quite right.

re: ekrabs

I don't think cops hate poor people and I understand that being uncooperative will get you further into trouble.

That said I think police put a lot/a little more effort into "noticing" things wrong with your car when you are in a certain sections of town. That has been my experience, as well as my friends and family who visit us.

In the early 90's my ex husband and I experienced the authors level of poverty. We were both under employed and lived in our car and sometimes with his empoverished parents in a one bedroom apt, 4 adults 2 young children. I know first hand how the police treat the poor.

We lived in a very rundown building, a fourplex fronting on a busy sml highway in a little town in Ont. My ex mother in law was stopped and harrassed by the police one day as she was parked outside the building, her young children were with her and saw the whole thing. The "reason" for stopping her was that her car, newly purchased second hand from a dealer and in excellent cond, was "unsafe". She was from Germany, born after the war and gave the cops all her documents, did not resist, did speak up for herself but in a polite way. We were expecting her to come home and did not know she was outside with the police, when she did not come home on time we ended up going downstairs to see where she was. Seeing the officer we asked what the problem was, the police gave some lame excuse about "unsafe vehicle inspection" then left.

After they had gone we found out they had put my ex mother in law in their police car after physically asaulting her causing bruising to her chest and arms, this was witnessed by the childern ages 6 and 8. We took her immediately to her doctor to have her injuries documented (also so that my ex's father would not be acused of battery for her injuries caused by the police). The MD shook his head and basicly told us not to say anything but he would make sure that her husband did not get in trouble for something he didnt do.

I had so many experiences of this sort during those years that I can no longer look at a police officer the same way. I was raised in a middle class home with middle class values and led to believe that "the policeman is your friend". I can see why some people believe that the police exist to keep the poor away from the rich, it appears that way to me now also.

That article read to me like a steaming pile of you know what.

#1 - You keep a boat (and presumably the docking slip). You keep the car AND the dog, but you lose your home? Uh....ditch the dog, sell the crap, move out and find yourself a dirt cheap apartment AND a roommate.
#2 - Oh...they have no shame! Then why didn't they ask the brother for help when they actually needed it?
#3 - The cop didn't pull you over because you were poor, he pulled you over because you did something stupid.
#4 - Prozac and pysch drugs aren't cheap and a lot of those drugs are addictive or worse, the kind of drug you just take forever because your body can't deal without it. Bad idea and so not worth it.

I grew up one step above this level of living and we stayed there because my mother fought tooth and nail to keep us there. She worked two and sometimes three jobs to do it. You don't take a couple months to 'decompress'. You step up and do whatever it takes now matter how much you hate it because that's the only way things will change.

Jon said:

"However, the idea that the cops stopped him for having expired insurance really stumped me. How did the cop see into his glovebox to check the date of his insurance policy before he stopped him? There must have been some other cause to stop him, even if it was some minor infraction. "

We don't even know whether there was an infraction, or if he was stopped for Driving While Poor" (or at least for driving a car which suggests you are poor).

Question: What's with the State's insistence (under penalty of citation/fine/etc) that people keep their address current? How is living in the United States different from living in a "Papers, please" country?

Anonymous said:

"#3 - The cop didn't pull you over because you were poor, he pulled you over because you did something stupid."

Okay, I'll bite. I was in a possibly similar situation many years ago: my wife kicked me out, I was homeless for a few months; my license expired during that time. (My car registration expired at the same time but I had the new forms and tags to renew, so at least I was not driving around with an expired registration.)

But without an address, I was unable to renew my license. (I had a PO box, but DMV would not accept it - the State always wants to know where they can seize your person. I was sufficiently careful to have renewed my tags before my license expired, as it is easier to drive with current tags and an expired license than with expired tags and a current license.)

During this entire period, I worked full time delivering pizzas - I drove without a license because my livelihood depended on it.

So was I driving around without a license because I was poor, or because I did something stupid?

Lots of experiences which are true but lots of bad advice. On the police issue, their job is to make you go away. They will not feed you; they will not give you clothes; they will not give you a ride. Only thing you can get from them is a ticket, Maybe if you don't tell them your name they will take you to jail: but only long enough to take you to the judge who will tell you to do community service and send you back outside.

Lets be real, A day without a place you will need to clean up, two or three days, you need clean clothes you stink. Nobody wants you in their neighborhood, nobody wants to give you a job. The police come they are going to tell you to go in the direction of a worse part of town. You can not loitering, you can not sleep outside.

Your best solution is to find a church. A real one where people tithe and always attend services. They will have a fellowship because they always attend. Once you find a good church they will tell you what you have done wrong.

If you drink they will tell you that you must stop, drinking is the reason you became homeless.

If you gamble they will tell you that you must stop, gambling is what has taken all your money.

If you have a bad attitude they will tell you.

The thing about a good christian church is they will operate as the bible dictates. God provides a way out and does not ask you to do anything that you can not do - you can not argue with that logic.

You may think you did everything right before you arrived at the church but if that is the case why are you homeless - you can not argue with that.

Maybe what you did wrong is not have a big enough support system or they were unable to support you. Other people in your family are living month to month and do not have an empty bedroom. You lost your job and ran out of money, landlord did not want to support you or bank wants the house or the money.

Even if you don't drink, don't gamble, have a good attitude, don't curse, budget your money, and think your problem is your friends are only one paycheck better than you. I bet you do not tithe, If you did you would have fellow ship at church - you can not argue with that logic.

The sooner you get to church the sooner your life will start to become better. You may like it.

Re: You may think you did everything right before you arrived at the church but if that is the case why are you homeless - you can not argue with that.

Oh yes I can argue with that. I did not drink or smoke or use drugs, and I became homeless in the fall of 1988, in the middle of a booming economy. My problem was that I had five years of rent increases while my income remained low.

I was working full-time near minimum wage; I was able to sleep in my employer's off-site storage area, which consisted of three rooms in the basement of an apartment building. (The three rooms had previously been used as a manager's apartment and included 1/2 bath - the new owners preferred to live in their McMansion and rented out the space as storage. This 'storage' area also included a 'dumb terminal' and 2400-baud modem which were useful for dialing up Bulletin Board Systems.))

I'm not sure what I did to become homeless, other than fail to keep up with the rising incomes around me.

After four months of daily pavement-pounding, I found an excellent deal and stayed there 12 years.

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