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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Harassment by Queensland Police

Last night I had terrible dreams of humiliation that made me get out of bed early, around 5am, and seek escape online. In one part of the dream a policeman thrusts his baton into my sternum while taking a breath test even though I was the witness to what was almost a tragic accident - a young woman almost struck down on her bicycle by a speeding car - and even though it had been me who called in the crime. There was more to the dream, and more violence and humiliation, but it was this that started it, and it reminds me of what happened to me almost three years ago when I was living in southeast Queensland.

It was just after dinner at the end of April. I had prepared dinner as usual for my mother at her apartment, and I was walking home along the deserted and darkened street smoking my post-prandial cigarette when a paddy wagon drove around the corner in front of me. I had stopped to let the car - I could not see any distinguishing features of it from that distance - go past me on the street before I crossed the road.

As I was approaching my apartment block the paddy wagon pulled up at the kerb beside me and I turned around and approached the policemen as they were getting out of it. One of the men came to my right and the younger man stepped lightly to my left. They were both facing me when the younger man asked me if I was smoking marijuana. No, I said, showing him the cigarette butt in my fingers, it's a Marlboro. They stood there looking at the cigarette.

The older, shorter man to my right then asked me why I had sweat on my shirt. "I have been cooking dinner for my mother and myself," I answered. "Why would that make you sweat," he replied. "Because it's hot," I said. He looked away from me briefly and then said Ok. I guessed that their interrogation was over. "Take care," said the older man as he and his partner got back into their car. I turned around and walked home.

I immediately wrote down what had happened and started researching how to complain about police harassment, which this clearly was. It happened that at that time, just before the time when I was to give up freelance journalism - writing for other magazines  - that I had a bit of a straggly beard because I had not shaved for some weeks. It wasn't a nice look, I admit, but I don't think that having a beard meant that I should have been profiled as a druggie by the Queensland Police. I found by looking at the internet that in order to complain you have to contact the police station head in the first instance. but since I thought that I might need the police in future in case my downstairs neighbour started playing loud music again, I decided not to complain.

I sat on my humiliation for almost three years, until today. Now, with this blogpost, I have decided to publicly express my unhappiness at my treatment at the hands of the Queensland Police. They behaved disgracefully with me, and subjected me to unnecessary humiliation for no reason. Here was I, a middle-aged man caring for his elderly mother, being accused of smoking drugs on a public street. And then accused of God-knows-what else with the implication that I was trying to escape from something and therefore had sweat on my shirt as a result.

No wonder I got out of Queensland as soon as I could. It is this small-mindedness that irritates me the most about the place. In public authorities this small-mindedness translates into a suspiciousness that everyone is breaking the law or the rules. Good riddance to Queensland!

2 comments:

Brett said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brett said...

Hi Mathew,

Not in any way do I want to underplay or diminish the effect or seriousness of your encounter with QLD's Finest and the assumptions and baited attitudes they tried to take and make with /of you...but let me just say that our Police at their worst are MOSTLY a blessing and of a high caliber as compared to what the average and especially African American Citizen has to go through and literally at times, SURVIVE, when encountering the local police. I am sure you are aware of some of the blatant profiling,attitudes, fears and hate that some Police display and do so on a regular basis in the U.S and almost every time, do or have done with no real consequences for their actions in terms of their outcome albeit tragically for the children, mentally ill, Black and old who are their intended /unintended victims.

Of course that is no excuse for our Police and any actions that may have upset or disturbed you by their bad attitude/behavior, but just a fact and friendly reminder that compared to there...we are as in so many things The Lucky Country and the Lucky People who live within it's embrace and upon it's shores, and is hard to beat living in as easy it is for a U.S cop to beat some hapless Citizen they are supposed to serve and protect when they beat them up case in point: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Man-on-Stolen-Horse-Stunned-by-Sheriffs-Deputies-in-IE-299250951.html and this article is very revealing: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-broken-tail-light-can-be-death-sentence-america

Anyway, perhaps hearing how bad things can be may alleviate your hurt at what happened to you and hopefully ensure no more Dreams arising from that incident affecting your sleep! Life is far to short! Brett