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Deonate Cruz


With elections right around the corner, I am reminded of how important it is to elect a leader who considers the overall safety of those for whom they are responsible. My recent interactions with police officers, coupled with the growing tension around the nation about how people in power treat minorities, is on my mind as I write this.

Power of One iconPower of One

Deonate Cruzvote button


With elections right around the corner, I am reminded of how important it is to elect a leader who considers the overall safety of those for whom they are responsible. My recent interactions with police officers, coupled with the growing tension around the nation about how people in power treat minorities, is on my mind as I write this.

I have been pulled over several times this year. Each time I was held up for an average of 15-30 minutes while the officer questioned me about things that did not pertain to my alleged traffic violations. The most recent time I remember very clearly. I was driving north on I-5 passing the onramp to I-405 East when an officer on a motorcycle waved me down, and signaled for me to pull over. I remember feeling confused because I did not know why he was stopping me. I wracked my brain for possible reasons and came up with nothing. I was sure it could not be speed related as I was monitoring my speed closely because of maintenance concerns I had with the vehicle.

"First, vote.Second, be informed.
Lastly, think about what you can do,
and do something."

The officer seemed nice at first. He asked me if I knew why he pulled me over, and I told him no. Things got a little weird after that. He told me I was going 25 over the speed limit. I told him I did not think that it was possible for the car I was driving to go 85, especially not on an incline. It was having some issues related to the exhaust system that prevented the car from accelerating and reaching higher speeds. The officer seemed offended and asked to see my license and registration. I couldn’t find my wallet at first because I don’t like to drive with it in my pocket. I usually keep it on the seat next to me. When I couldn’t find it quick enough, the officer very frankly stated that he was going to have to take me to jail, and detain me so they could run my fingerprints to identify me. He also said it probably meant the car was going to be impounded. At that point, I started to feel nervous and extremely anxious. It felt like the officer was overly aggressive in finding fault in my driving.

That whole ordeal lasted about 30 minutes. It concluded with the officer letting me go without a ticket. I remember feeling extremely fatigued and irritated as a result of being harassed. As an added bonus, my interaction with that particular officer resulted in me being late for work that day.

For a while after this happened, I got stuck on wanting some form of justice for the harassment and violence that people of color and those from low-income communities have felt and experienced recently. But as I sit here writing this article, I laugh at the idea of justice. Entertaining that idea seems borderline comedic as I watch communities across the nation fail to hold police accountable for the atrocities committed against my fellow African Americans and people of color.

So in lieu of wishing for justice, I have three suggestions for people who have had similar experiences to what I described above. These are by no means a one-size-fits-all prescription, but they are more practical than wishing for change. First, vote. Your vote has real power. A vote that isn’t cast for someone you choose only allows someone you didn’t choose to move into a position of power. Second, be informed. This is harder than it sounds, but try to educate yourself on what’s going on in the world around you. Study the issues you care about, and study the candidates who can influence those issues. Talk with people you trust who are knowledgeable, and ask a lot of questions. Lastly, think about what you can do, and do something. Whether you volunteer at the library, coach a youth sports team, or serve your church community — it doesn’t matter how big or small your contribution is. Serving others can change perceptions about who we are, what our potential is, and the treatment we deserve.

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