Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

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Arrest by Rope

in Health/U.S. by

          “I believe our officers showed poor judgment
                    in this instance.”
                              —Galveston, Texas, Chief of Police
                                        August 5, 2019

The instance?
An unusual mode of arrest and transport:

White officers, both on horseback,
leading a cuffed African American man

by blue rope down public city streets.

Worried about the look of this
“unnecessary embarrassment” —

meaning, the suspect’s, not his own —
the chief claimed no “malicious intent”

was intended. He pointed out that
his officers trained in that “arrest

technique,” deemed it “best practice
in some scenarios.”

Think: the antebellum South, say,
or maybe those old oak hanging-trees.

Officers wore their body cameras;
had them turned on, too. Besides, that

man, it was alleged, had been warned
more than once not to trespass

but did so again.
Imagine that!

The public did — fired up Facebook
and Twitter. Everybody had an opinion.

Between the optics and the outrage,
the suspect freed on bond, apology

made, the police department had this
one other thing to add, “We. . . believe

it is most appropriate to cease the use”
immediately of arrests by rope.

No further comment.

 

________

Maureen Doallas has published work at Rattle’s Poets Respond, Every Day Poems, and other periodicals, and is anthologized most recently in “The Dreamers” and “A Constellation of Kisses.” She is the editor of Artist Watch at Escape Into Life. Her debut collection is “Neruda’s Memoirs.”

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