At seven A.M. on a Saturday, I was making coffee and my doorbell rang. On the other side of it were two police officers. I grew up and have spent most of my life in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has the one of the highest violent crime rates in the U.S., and is also an infamous number one city for police killings. This was approximately twelve years ago and not much has changed for the better here.
I am a descendant of Latinx/Lebanese immigrants. We are privileged in many ways and do not want for much. Even so, sometimes we have all experienced discrimination. Many of my family members have worked in the criminal justice system and local government, with great integrity, in and out of work. I am proud to know them, and I hope that one day our whole system will be held accountable to the kind of integrity they carry.
The only time I have ever actively feared for the safety of a loved one because of violence has been at the hands of two cops. It was, and still is, the worst moment of my life.Until this fateful day, I was naïve to think that everyone in the system was as honorable as the number of my family members who had spent their lives devoted to the prevention of violent crime in our city.
At this time I lived in a house with one of my brothers and two roommates. We weren’t a wild household. We were four young adult college students with jobs. We had occasional parties, but they weren’t violent or loud or frequent. We were between nineteen and twenty two.
That day, when I opened the door, the officers asked me if my brother lived here and if that was his red Ford Mustang in the driveway. I said yes. They wanted to talk to him. I asked if they had a warrant. “No,” they said politely smiling. “We just want to ask him some questions.” I was certain that my brother-my nineteen-year old brother—had himself done nothing wrong. I opened the door, and I will never forgive myself for this.
The officers immediately pushed me aside. They darted through my house. They threw open the door where our roommate was asleep with so much force they immediately woke her.
Then, they reached my brother’s room.
They jerked him out of bed, pushed past me again, dragged him down the hallway to the front room, where they threw him down on his knees and pressed his upper body face first onto the sofa. He could barely talk, his face in the cushions and his hands behind his back, and they questioned him. One of them had his baton in hand and the other with his hand at the base of my brother’s neck. No, he didn’t know who lived at that address. No, he didn’t know a person by that name. No, he was never at that house. No, no, no, no, no, no, he said.
I was crying, I felt so helpless, but my roommate came into the room with a notepad. “Can I get your names?” she asked. They didn’t even look at her. They didn’t look at me. After what felt like a long time, they pushed my brother away from them, and walked out the door without closing it. Without looking at us, without answering her, without another word to my brother. They had simply seen the make and model of my brother’s car in our driveway which maybe was similar to one they were looking for, and ran his plates to learn his name.
Something has stuck with me for so long: they weren’t looking for my brother and they knew this.
It was not traceable.
It was not filmed.
We could have started a lawsuit, but it was before we owned smartphones, and it was not able to be proved beyond the testimony of three college kids.
I doubt there is a record of it anywhere.
No one would ever know. No one. Would ever. Know.
I cannot imagine how many thousands of people this has happened to or who have witnessed something like this, or worse. Worse being a more than likely possibility.
Until that day, when honor is what the entirety of our enlisted peacekeepers want for us and for their communities and swear to uphold in their communities, we are right to demand justice. Demand equality. Demand transparency. Demand respect.
Violence should not be a scare tactic.
We demand life.
Kristian Macaron is from Albuquerque, NM. She attended the University of New Mexico for undergraduate studies and graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with an MFA in Fiction in 2012. She is currently an English instructor at the University of New Mexico Valencia Branch Campus and an Academic Affairs Coordinator at the University of the People. Kristian’s poetry chapbook collection titled, Storm was released in 2015 by Swimming with Elephants Publications. She has presented her work at various readings. Other writing publications can be found in The Winter Tangerine Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, The Mantle Poetry, Luna Luna Magazine, Gargoyle Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Drunk Monkeys Magazine, Red Planet Magazine and forthcoming in Asimov’s Science Fiction & others. She is a co-founding editor of the NM-based literary journal, Manzano Mountain Review. View her work at Kristianmacaron.com
Thank you, Kristian. Moving, clear, to the point, firghtening.