NYC Journal #11 – Tuesday 4/28/2020 – Bust
Recollection accuracy: OKish, not so sure of descriptions of individual people:
You can be lying on your bed, writing about the subway ride the other day, when the 40ish milk-chocolate-skinned, thimble-nosed lady with the softly runny lumpy androgeny in sweats and a red satin doo-rag (no mask!) nodded her head and, with a slight smile playing on her waxy face lip-synced the smooth-flowing, quick-cascading rap as it rolled out of cylindrical speakers hanging around her neck. Every so often affirming her appreciation of the music by sucking her cheeks and lips in a little, rolling her head a neck a tad down, and tapping her chest with her the bottom edge of a palm, thumb and first two fingers pointing out. And about the 40ish paper-pale Jewish guy who (like the rest of us on the sparsely populated train) wore his (white filter) mask. With a muscular lank build and broad head, he focused with all his might on a thick leatherbound book of original-language scriptures. One black pin-striped leg crossed over another. Black yamaka fastened to trim dark hair with barrettes. Clean shaven. With white prayer tassels flanking his thighs.
You can be lying in bed, trying to recall how it was the other day, when people are stomping on the roof or the fire escape or somewhere running and crashing around.
And voices. Voices talking; voices yelling; voices. You can ignore if for a full minute, thinking this too shall pass. But then maybe you have to get up and see what’s going on. And then maybe you see five or six uniformed policemen climbing on the fire escape of a nearby building, making their way onto a low roof that serves as a patio for your downstairs neighbors. They are big burly men, made burlier with bullet-proof vests. Wearing white masks over their nose/mouth/chin areas. With powerful flashlights peering into the yard on the other side of the roof.
Talking and yelling to each other, and then they lose interest in the yard and start walking towards the window/door that leads to your downstairs’ neighbors apartment; then one is commanding, “pass through! pass through!”; and then one is saying to the conscripted hosts, “is there a way you can let us down into there?” as they all five or maybe six of them file into the second floor apartment.
In hindsight, that passing through seems a little gratuitous. Since they must’ve ended up walking down a long narrow flight of stairs and out the front door onto the street where other cops were probably already waiting, as by then they had the place surrounded. And then into the shuttered commercial space whose only entrance is a streetside door. But as it was happening I guess they didn’t know where the suspects were or what was really going on and time was of the essence; hence someone yelling, “pass through! pass through!” and the others obeying.
There were many more than six police officers involved in this endeavor. Several white police suburbans and a police car and several police vans double parked on two streets. And in the street walked and dashed and waved and moved many policemen and a few policewomen. Of the five or six guys on the roof, I think maybe two were black and three white. Maybe. It was dark and chilly out. They all had big shoulders.
Everyone said the guy looking down from the upstairs window looked scrawny and ineffectual, and his hair was a fright, but that was just empty talk and I don’t see why they had to say anything about him anyway when he was just minding his own business until the thumping began, making his own business seem out of touch with his surroundings.
I tell you that they kept filling up police vans! Each van seems to only hold four 20ish year old black men, so that was part of the problem. The young men / old boys in handcuffs were different sizes and wore different clothes. Like the tall and broad-backed young man in light green coat with funnel hood, or the medium-sized guy in gray sweats, or the narrow-waisted dude in a red-armed leather jacket. Lots of flat-brimmed ballcaps.
Policemen and suspects wore facial masks, usually white coffee-filters. At least one policeman wore a black fabric mask. One tall broad muscular square faced tan-skinned cop with ears that stick out did not wear a mask but (circle-)motioned the paddy wagon forward while looking back towards the next line of suspects and then opening his wide mouth with big white teeth to say something to somebody. I think the cops filled three or four vans with suspects.
A tall white cop with a heavy slab gut jogged windedly a little ways down the sidewalk and then petered out into a walk. Nearby, a shorter medium-muscled square-faced Asian cop spoke to someone standing inside the small apartment building that the cops had originally climbed up.
The suspect in the fuzzy brown faux-lightbrown-poodle-coat was a young woman, I think. She also had a flat-brimmed ballcap over her poofy crinkly hair that was somehow rounded, perhaps into two side ponytails, although memory doesn’t quite serve.
In addition to like a dozen uniformed cops, there were many plainclothes cops too. From a distance, you couldn’t really tell the difference between the plainclothes cops holding the suspects and the suspects except that the former held the latter while handcuffs kept the latter from holding anything. All cops had black guns on one side of their hips and yellow tasers on the other side. Sometimes they would pat a suspect down through his coat and pants.
Before handcuffed suspects began lining up next to paddy wagons, the cops were running around, climbing fire escapes, trundling across roofs, talking and yelling sharp and quick. Tension permeated the cool slightly-ruffling night air. But once the rows of cuffed young men started forming, all was calm and neither suspect nor police seemed worried. The main question of the evening had been answered; now there was nothing to do but allow the answer to carry you into prison or through the rest of your shift, depending on your role.
What had been going on in that former juice, coffee, healthy salads, and snacks shop?? They kept coming out of the entrance in cuffs. It was orderly and relaxed by then. A surfeit of cops, both in uniforms and plainclothes with flat-brimmed ballcaps and loose-fitting sweatshirts and jeans stood around, holding some part of the perimeter while watching, or just watching. One big plainclothes cop gave a low-five-into-a-handsclasp to a big uniformed cop.
That uniformed guy was the one who you’d spoken to. He answered your query with, “it’s being investigated now” and then, after you said, “oh, so you don’t know what’s going on yet?”, he (35? still young enough to have all the sharp edges on his anvil- or drillbit-face; Italian? white, but not winter-pale, dark hair) said “No!, it’s not that; it’s being classified; I don’t want to classify it wrong, and then you spread it all over the place and it’s wrong.” Then you said, “There’s like eight cop trucks here; it’ll be in the paper” and he gave an up-nick with wrinkled pout, “there you go! read it there!”, at which point the conversation was over and the night air felt cold on your naked toes.
Bullet-proof vests make everyone seem bigger and boxier, more like tanks. And they do make their wearer a tiny bit more like a tank.
Now I ask what all this amounts to? Who were these young people? What were they up to? Why was the heavy purr of a police chopper required? That was a police chopper, wasn’t it? Very loud and choppy and whirring and there from five minutes after the thumping began to about when the last vanloads were leaving. When a police chopper pants over the scene, you know it’s serious, or you at least you know someone with authority had decided at some point that it might turn out to be serious.
How much money did tonight’s intervention cost? A dozen uniformed police; another half dozen plainsclothes; several vans, several suburbans, a cop car, a chopper with pilot and fuel and safety precautions. I don’t have a calculator with me, but it sounds like a lot of money.
Some day we’ll all die, and all our flesh and all our feelings and all our ideas will evaporate. And we’ll be left only with the Light that watched it all from the inside bleeding out. And the more the Light has become our feeling and thinking, acting and presence, the more what we next become will resemble what we now are — for only those aspects of a human that are imbued with the Light is Love can pass through into the afterlife. In the time after time, there is no race, no gender, no nationality, no politics, no religion, no philosophy — nothing but the glow of kind resolve and the giggle of compassionate joyful sharing fun.
This, at any rate, is what everyone with any sense says happens after death.
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A 6’3″, broad but sloping shoulders light skinned African American cop, large egg-shape head shaved and that same basic shape reflected in his muscular-but-spreading physique. Hands on his belt. Standing six or seven feet from the open door but facing your way, while another stocky, though not so tall, cop faces more towards whatever’s behind the black partition wall.
“Helloo??” asks the tall cop with a tone that says, “and what exactly are you doing poking your head into this police matter?”
You say, “Oh! Hi. Can you tell me what’s going on here? Yesterday you were all here, running around, surrounding the place, arresting people. And the door’s broken. And now you’re here again.” His mouth and nose twitch while his eyes grow. Like he’s about to say something but then no, that’s not quite the thing to say.
“I guess it’s a secret”, you offer. This settles his face with visible relief. He gives a little upnick of the chin, “it’s an active investigation”. But you don’t hear it the first time and say, “What?” He gives another chin upnick, but this time holding his head and chin out to more loudly and more sonically focused on you and repeats, “it’s an active investigation”.
The cop last night had upnicked his chin too, but with more swagger and bravado, wincing his lips a little and throwing his chest out a tad much. This cop is nicer. His full cheeks remain relaxed. And there’s the tiniest trace of a smile on his lips when he delivers the official line.
“OK, well, have a good day.”
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Could you find an article about the bust?
No I couldn’t, but I did find this Facebook Post from the 77th Precinct’s Facebook Page:
On Tuesday night our Anti-Crime Officers responded to a suspected Burglary in the vicinity of Wyrd Street and Weird Avenue in Farflung Fields and discovered an illegal social club operating out of a closed deli. Once inside, a large group was observed and three firearms, cocaine, gambling devices, and approximately $57,000 was recovered. Four persons were arrested and numerous summonsed. Exceptional job by all involved who continue to protect our community. #FlattenTheCurve
So they raided a speakeasy. The thing is that you don’t know what you’re getting into when you’re the police. Criminals don’t send invitations with what to bring and when to RSVP by. And if you don’t come with enough force, you risk more resistance and thus more casualties all around. I guess that’s how it is. And, of course, if three people with guns do decide to start shooting, terrible bloody mayhem ensues. And, then again, $57,000 is a startling lot of money for ten kids in an abandoned storefront.
At any rate, that’s what the social club bust turned up, though they’d originally sought not an illegal social club, but a burglary, because, I guess, someone had seen or heard something from that abandoned “deli”.
The commercial space was not, most recently at least, occupied by a deli; but, as we’ve mentioned, by a juice bar / coffee shop / snack shop. Although, anymore, the line between a place with all these offerings and a deli is perhaps a little fuzzy, as a deli could conceivably also offer them all. Point taken: but this place had no deli counter! It sold no cold cuts and no deli sandwiches!
The posters in the not-deli’s papered-over windows have for some time advertised lectures on wrongful incarcerations.
Last year on at least a few Sundays during football season a stout African American man with a chef’s apron grilled outside, and there were posters up that you could come in and watch the game. Why didn’t you ever do that? You never do anything that might get in the way of you talking to yourself — that’s your problem.
Author: Johnny Onduh Spawt
Eyewitness Editors: Bartleby Willard and Amble Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson