Catch and Release

Page 3 of 3

O.N.E. has been hitting the streets, reminding residents of the same thing. With a roll of tape around his wrist, Ray shares the sidewalk with Walker, both of them occasionally giving the "What's up?" to familiar faces across Welton Street near the Five Points intersection. Down the street, Edgar Acosta is standing just inside a pale stucco doorway speaking in Spanish to a group of men seated within. The shirtless one with dark hair and sad eyes tells Acosta about the last time he was stopped by police. The 24-year-old O.N.E. organizer nods and gestures to the fluorescent green poster he is holding that reads "Stop Racial Profiling Now."

"A lot of these people out here had no idea that anything like this is around," Ray says. "You know, it's people like this that may not come to any community meetings, and they might be scared to put their names down." If they approach him, he says, then that's when he sets up a one-on-one meeting to document their particular story with the police and advise them of their legal rights.

Inside the black-arts store Black Market, Walker approaches the counter as owner Jackie Logan rings up a customer.

"If you've been harassed by police in any kind of way," Ray says, lifting the poster, "we've got a number that you can call. That way we can put it all together and try to get cops like that off of the force."

"Eight-two-five po-po," Walker shouts the hotline number.

Expressionless, Logan examines the poster through her reading glasses. "Well, okay then," she says. "Give me a couple."

"It happened with my sister," the customer says. She was driving in her Cadillac to the post office when the police pulled her over, "and they didn't even ask her to search the car, and they searched the car," she says. "And they told her, 'Oh, it's clean in here.' Why would you say something like that? I mean, did you expect for it to be dirty? So they didn't have no reason to pull her over."

It happened to Logan's nineteen-year-old nephew while he was on his way home from playing basketball one night. "Matter of fact, they were so riled about it they're moving to Florida," she says. "Not that it's going to be any different." She places little loops of tape on the corners of the posters and sighs. "You know what happens is, you get this stigma in your neighborhood, on your street. And they know that they just get pulled over for no reason, but people don't believe it. They think that they're doing something."

Outside, Ray and Walker watch with satisfaction as the posters go up in the window. Ray asks Walker if he needs a ride home.

"Naw, I'm close enough to walk from here. I just hope I can make it, man," Walker says, turning. "You never know when you might get bumped."

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Jared Jacang Maher

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