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That time my dad was arrested for no reason

Hot sky, searing white. Low roofs and dead grass. The motel. My home.

A tenant gets belligerent and refuses to pay the rent, refuses to leave. My parents run the motel. They must evict her.

So my father calls the police. They will help.

The squad car arrives. Dad explains the situation.

Then, a mistake. A gesture seen as threatening? A misspoken word? The audacity of his brownness? We never really understood. Whatever it was, it flipped a switch. A second later:

My father’s head rammed into a wall.

A heavy arm locked around his throat.

My father…
staggering
subdued
arrested
shoved in a squad car
taken away.

I could say he didn’t do anything.
I could say he just wanted help.
I could say there was no reason. 

But what I should be able to say, the argument that should work, is: he is a human and he deserved to be treated like one.

My father is in his 70s now.

A long time ago, he had a stroke and forgot many things, like:
The names of objects.
Verdant swaths of his youth.
How to read.

But he remembers this.

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  1. Randy Martin

    December 4, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I applaud the courage to share this story, I’m deeply saddened that the police in the place you grew up in did this to one of the people that helped shape who I am, and I’m angry that it was probably swept under the rug and/or ignored by the powers that be there.

    1. sabaatahir

      December 4, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks Randy. My dad was luckier than some. In the end, he talked to a local judge who got the charges against him dropped.

  2. Lucie

    December 5, 2014 at 2:18 am

    he is a human and he deserved to be treated like one…..wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone followed this mantra? Your poor dad.

  3. Rachel Pudelek (@rachelpud)

    December 17, 2014 at 8:27 am

    During WWII my great grandfather was arrested because he spoke German. He was an immigrant from Warsaw, Poland and so he spoke perfect German. The local police were convinced he was trouble. This man served in the war to earn his citizenship. He owned a home, had a family, was a well-liked member of society. But his accent betrayed him. That was a long time ago and it’s ridiculous that similar arrests, arrests happening only because of someone’s skin color or birth country, are still taking place.

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