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May 10, 2003

Stylin' & Racial Profilin'

Zeebah and I had a late lunch in the dining area at Grand Central. At times the City feels like one giant elevator, dense in population, with everyone studiously avoiding eye contact. There's a sense of immense privacy and anonymity here on the streets of Gotham, even as one weaves through the crowd. Because of the close quarters, we generally agree to leave each other to our bits of carved-out solitude.

We're desperately hungry and consumed with our own conversation. So we don't notice the older man sitting a few tables away until three NYPD and one National Guard show up. He's gray, balding, neatly attired in a simple button-down short-sleeved shirt tucked into khakis. He looked to have been reading his paper, the remnants of his lunch sitting on the tabletop. I wondered aloud what was going on, and only after Zeebah points it out do I realize he is Middle Eastern. You can't sling your messenger bag without hitting somebody ethnic in NYC, so what's so suspicious about this person? He's not the homeless guy who will shuffle by shortly, rummaging at one of the nearby trash cans for a bit of someone's unwanted lunch, which we'll pretend we don't see.

We don't hear what's said to the man, but the result is that he haphazardly gathers his things together, muttering angrily in his language. His face is probably hot with indignation and embarrassment while the authorities stand there and the civilians are stealing glances. We look, we look at each other, we look away, we look again. The vegetable fried rice I'm having for lunch sits cold and lumpy in my stomach.

Still muttering, the man walks away, trailed briefly by an NYPD. The other three head back to wherever they were posted. They weren't even there to collect him, they just needed him to move along. Why? It's a public space, during public hours, a place to eat, drink, read, to pass the time while in transit to elsewhere. Who reported this man as suspicious, or did some uniform pass by on patrol and notice the man had been there, reading and eating like the rest of us, for more time than was deemed acceptable? Maybe something happened before we got there, who knows. On the face of it, though, the scene that we witnessed was just plain rotten.

Yours, &c., LC | 03:43 AM | | Comments (2)

Comments

Hey, your layout is back [almost, I miss the nice background] - wonderful!!!

Posted by: anissa at May 13, 2003 07:39 AM

Thanks, I'm getting there. Hopefully once the current hubbub dies down I can tinker obsessively once more.

Posted by: Lady Crumpet at May 13, 2003 09:40 AM