In 2015, I was arrested while trying to pick my daughter up from day care. The camp counselor who made the call freaked out about a 4 finger ring she saw on my hand. I hadn't hit anyone with it. I hadn't yelled at anyone. I hadn't broken any laws. There were no injured parties. No property damage. No harm to anybody.
The police treated me like a criminal. They cuffed me in front of my screaming 5 year old daughter. I was charged with the unlawful use of a weapon (my four finger ring) and also disorderly conduct. Like most Black people in the U.S. who run afoul of the "justice system" I was coerced into a plea bargain. So I plead guilty to disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct to avoid being possibly found guilty of the "unlawful use of a weapon" charge which for me, would have carried a penalty of 1 year in prison.
A year in prison. For a piece of jewelry.
My story didn't go viral even though my life was turned upside down. My daughter was traumatized. I lost a side job. My income was impacted and so was my ability to find employment. To this day those convictions stand as a blemish on my "criminal record" and should I ever be unfortunate enough to be caught up in the wicked American legal in-justice system's machinations again, they will surely reference these convictions as a reason to award me the maximum penalty - even if all I have done is scare some European American camp counselor with jewelry she isn't familiar with.
That is why my wife and I made this movie. I am not the only person to have been caught up in a situation like this. I'd wager that hundreds if not thousands of Black people are subjected to scenarios just like this every year. And most of us won't go viral. So this is for you. And it's also for these so-called lawmakers who are supposed to be serving their ENTIRE constituency. I say "supposed to be" because if they were serious about serving US, then there would be laws in every state criminalizing 911 abuse. Because that is what it is. These people who call 911 on people like me whom have injured no one, whom have broken no laws, these people have weaponized 911. And it is long past time to criminalize this life-wrecking behavior.
Please help us raise awareness to this issue by sharing this blog and/or this video on your social media networks.
Hannibal Pace, Lead Servant of the Free Breakfast Movement