October 13, 2008
Only In America (Let My People Go)
On October 8th 2008 I was awakened by a loud banging on my apartment door. It was 6:21 am and my first thought was “who is banging on my door like the Po-lice?” I gather my wits about me and go to see who this is and low and behold, it’s the Po-lice!!! So being the stand up citizen and all around good guy I am, I open the door and ask what can I do for the coppers this early morning. They then inform me that they are looking for Guy Routte (of course they pronounce my name like route). My 1st thought was to say “Guy no live here” or “Guy is over in Iraq fighting for the freedom’s that you and I enjoy today” but I’m an honest tax paying (sometimes) citizen of the United “fuckin” States of America, and this Gestapo shit aint gonna scare me. So I say I’m Guy Routte, what’s up? They inform me that there is a warrant out for me and that they are here to escort me to court. “Escort me? Am I under arrest? Do I need to call my lawyer? What is the warrant for?” Now any real black person knows the feeling of guilt even if you’ve never done anything wrong. I search my mental rolodex for any past infractions that may have occurred. Did I get caught selling bricks? Did I not go to the domestic abuse workshop after beating my wife? Did I miss my mandatory drug rehab program after being sent to shock instead of jail for the crack the found in my car? Did that gun charge not get dropped? None of the above. I’ve never been arrested in my life. So now I’m confused for real. I ask the officers what the consequences would be if I refused to go with them and they informed me that they would have to arrest me and put me “through the system”. So they allowed me to get dressed and off I got to court.
But first we have to pick up the rest of the people on Staten Island with warrants. I am informed by the “good cop” that they are the warrant squad (sounds like a bad show on comedy central) and that because of the spike in crime, the police have been instructed to gather up all outstanding warrants and bring them the court to be answered. Now I’ve never received any notice that I was wanted by the fuzz (that’s police for you youngin’s that have never watched Kojack) so I don’t understand how a warrant can just pop up. I thought maybe this is a trick from my brother Darryl who died 14 years ago but is not above playing a trick on me from the grave. Like he got arrested 15 years ago and used my name so his warrants wouldn’t pop up. Those of you who knew my brother will not think this is as callous as it my sound and also know that it’s possible. This is a guy who prevented me from getting my driver’s license for years cause I had to prove that all the tickets he amassed for driving without a license weren’t mine. So as I sit in the back of the van and they visit house after house where the people who were supposed to be picked up were mysteriously not home (or in Iraq fighting for the freedom’s we enjoy today), I realized I’m the only fool who admitted to being me. So me and my new cop friends decide we’re hungry and since court opens at 9:30 and it’s only 8am, they take me to McDonald’s for a chicken biscuit and coffee, (did you know chicken biscuits are 430 calories, sheesh). I am supposed to be running in Central park with my trainer Dvon, but instead I’m eating McDonalds with the Po Po and gaining weight.
They ask me what I do and I tell them I’m in the music business and they then proceed to ask if I know J-Lo and Bobby Brown among others and “is Jessica Simpson really dumb” etc. No talk of if Sarah Palin is really dumb, but it is Staten Island. They take me to the 120 precinct, but at this point they realize that I’m not a typical criminal so they are treating me like a celeb that got picked up (after all, I may be able to get them tickets to the Jay-Z concert, we’re all good friends you know). I also question if they’re detectives (they arrived at my door in plain clothes) then why are they on such a bullshit mission, and informed them that they passed 8 drug dealers and 17 gangbangers on their way to pick me up. They express their frustration at this detail they’ve been placed on and say they wish they were doing “real police work”. From all the hours watching “The Wire” I felt like I could relate to the boys in blue, so I asked did they think this initiative was working? And they just looked at me and rolled their eyes and the woman said “hell no!!!” but “whatcha gonna do?’”
We finally get to the courthouse, which is literally around the corner from my house and they inform me that I have to be handcuffed to go in court. Handcuffed? I’ve never been involuntarily handcuffed in my life (notice I said involuntarily, but that’s another story). What did I do to deserve this? I tell them I refuse to put my hands behind my back, so they cuff me in the front and I cover the cuffs with my sleeves from my coat. If any of you know Staten Island, it’s like a small town in the south. We’re all cousins and we all know each other’s business so, I know I’m gonna see people I know, criminals and lawyer’s and cops alike. So I want to get in there quick. They usher me in the courthouse, in the courtroom past the judge’s bench to the back and in a holding cell. So now it’s real to me. What if I have to go to Riker’s? I gotta call my lawyer Kervin, damn you O.J. This is the Barack factor, they are going to harass all the black men in the country cause they are mad that Barack is ahead in the polls, uppity nigger!!! So I ask the officer why do I need to be in a cell, and he tells me it’s just procedure. There’s a man in the cell with me who is obviously supposed to be here. He seems comfortable, like he’s been here before and has a seat on the floor. There is a metal toilet in the corner with no seat and another cell across with a Spanish cat with a tattoo on his neck proclaiming his innocence and being chastised by his attorney for coming to court with an open case. Now his bail is $,000 or he can cop to 30days but will have a record (and not be able to vote for a while among other things). So this is how they get us. I realize I have my IPhone so I take a few pics on the low to document my stay in the big house (well not so big, but you know what I mean).
Finally the public defender comes in and tells me that in 2005 I was ticketed for driving with an expired registration. I vaguely remember this event. The officer told me if I renewed the registration that it would be dismissed, I did and moved on with my life. 3 years and cars later, it’s “6 in the morning police at my door” and now I’m “in jail because I failed” (those youngin’s again may not get the Ice T and Fat Boys reference but bear with me). So he tells me that the judge may dismiss it because it’s just a summons and a waste of time. Cool. Of course I get the only judge who wants to see me, so the public defender tells me that I can cure the summons by agreeing to pay $100 and a surcharge of $50. I’m like duh!!! If I can get out of here of course, I’ll pay today. Finally the judge calls me, and all official like he says, “Driving with an expired registration, how do you plead?” My mind immediately goes to all the criminals I know and all the court dates I’ve been to where the charges are like “possession of key of cocaine and handguns with out serial numbers, how do you plead” and I realize that I’m not Butch Cassidy or Sundance (shout out to Paul Newman, R.I.P.) and that this is actually a funny thing even though it’s inconvenient. So I plead guilty and promise to pay, but 1st I ask can I give a statement, more like an observation. The judge grants it to me and I say, you guys spent about $,000 in man hours to pick me up and feed me and bring me to court to get $150 back, no wonder the economy is failing. Have a good day.” He laughs and I go pay the bill. I call my lawyer Kervin and he is mad at me for pleading guilty, but he wasn’t in the pokey, the clink, locked down by the man (in my best Akon voice, I’m locked up, they won’t let me out) so he has no idea of the true struggle that us political prisoners have to go thru (dramatic, yes but it sounded good), he says he’s gonna call his contacts from his days as a DA to complain, and I say no, let’s use that favor when we really need it, I paid already, it’s over. On my way out I see a friend of a friend walking into court (won’t say his name cause I need to protect the guilty) and he seems surprised to see me and asks what up. I tell him and he laughs. I ask what he’s here for, and he say he got picked up with a half a pound of weed. So this criminal gets to walk in with no cuffs for possession of a half a pound of weed and I have to be cuffed and jailed for an expired registration. Only in America! I’m thinking about moving to New Zealand…