Denisse Gonzalez-Cruz, “To the Police Officers Who Always Followed Us”
Dear police officers who always followed us,
I am writing to tell you the things I could not say in person. You have
made me and my whole family scared of you. We were taught to fear you guys
because of the way you have treated us. There was never a time when I felt safe when
seeing you guys around. I just felt as if I was being watched and observed, as if
you were just waiting for one of us to slip up, to catch us red-handed.
Everywhere I went, you were there. You had me questioning myself into thinking that I
was the bad guy. I must have done something wrong for you to be doing this, right?
I was reading this book called Citizen: An American Lyric, and one of the lines stuck with me:
“And still you are not the guy and still you fit the description because there is only one
guy who is always the guy fitting the description.” (Rankine 122). This quote made me
feel very furious and I am pretty sure by the time I am done explaining why you will
remember it clearly. I was in elementary school and my family and I went to the fair to
have fun. When I got off of a ride I saw one of my brother’s friends charging at me with
fear in her eyes, then I looked behind her and saw my mom screaming, crying, and
pacing back and forth. My brother’s friend grabbed my arm and took me where you guys
were. All I saw there was a crowd of people and I was trying to get through them to see
what was going on. When I finally got to the front of the crowd I saw my brother kneeling
on the ground with handcuffs around his wrists. We kept on trying to ask why he was
there and why you had him on the ground. You kept ignoring us and telling us to get
out of the way. You even called for backup, even though there was only one person in
handcuffs complying with everything that you asked him to do.
After what seemed like hours, you finally let him go and told us you arrested him because he
fit the description of someone you were trying to find. A tall Mexican with a black
hat and black shirt… out of everyone there you chose him because you have kept an
eye out on us. You did not even ask him for an ID or try to talk to him at all, you just
saw him and arrested him! You had the handcuffs so tight on him that when you took
them off he had markings on his hands!
There was another instance when my dad was driving me to summer camp. Once we
got there you came and told him to get out of the vehicle. He did as you instructed.
Then all I saw was my dad’s face being smudged against the car and you have
both of his hands behind his back putting handcuffs on him. You started questioning him
and he answered every single question. After a while of you interrogating him you let
him go. I saw the marks on his wrist from the handcuffs, the same marks my brother
had when they put the handcuffs on him. While this was all going on the other kids in
the summer camp saw everything. Do you know how embarrassing it is to be asked
why my dad got put in handcuffs and not even know the answer to it? You did
not even give my dad an explanation as to why you did what you did. As if that was not
enough for you that day you had to follow us home also to see where we lived. Once we
got out of the car you slowed your car and rolled your window down.
I can go on and on but I will not; I just want to ask, why? Why did you do all of those
things to my family? Why did you not treat us like you treated the other people? I saw
how you waved and smiled at others but when you saw us it was as if we did something
wrong to you and you never forgave us. To this day I have never understood why you
did what you did. As Rankine writes, “Memory is a tough place”(70).
I want to finish with this. We forgive you for everything that you have done,
but our memory does not let us forget what happened and how we felt at the time. You can
be better, it is never too late. There is still a chance for you to change; you just have
to want it.