• Jori Banks

Yeah, All Cops Aren’t Bad, But Let’s Talk the Bad.

Updated: Jun 29

by Jori Banks

The scariest encounter I have ever had with police was with my dad at Christmas.

Jori Banks, at 8, with her father Corey Banks, who was stopped by police in Alabama.

Racism still exists. It does. We may all know that now because of the gruesome murder of George Floyd and the protest that followed. Sorry to break it to you, but police abusing their power in America is not new.

At 8 years old, I sadly found out how true this is. It was a dry winter in December. My dad, Corey Banks, came to pick up my brother, Jonas Yearby, and I from North Carolina and take us to Alabama.

My uncle, Sean, also tagged along on the passenger side. We were all very excited to see each other as it was around Christmas time.

My father had presents tucked in the trunk of the car. My brother and I were grinning so hard, we were thrilled to be able to spend this holiday with my father. The grim stigma of divorce may cross your mind, but our situation was great. My parents made sure to spend as much time with me as possible even though we lived in different states.

“I don’t even want to take this road, it’s so country over here,” my dad said referring to the lonely road of Abbeville, Alabama. The town only had one gas station, and it’s a mom-and-pop kind of area. He was in the military, so I didn’t see him much due to deployment.

The sky was blue, and the sun was gleaming yellow, but all I could see was red and blue in the rearview mirror. Eight-year-old Jori knew what this meant. The pit of my stomach dropped to my ankles. I was too young to know what was going on but I still was afraid.

“Dang, what did you even do?” asked my 16-year-old brother, as most people do when the cops pull you over.

“Just stay calm, everything will be alright,” said my dad.

Two police officers jumped out of the car and made their way to the driver and passenger side of the vehicle.

“Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?” asked the cop on my dad’s side.

Shaking his head, my dad reaches for his ID.

“Step out the car, sir,” said the first cop.

The cop on the driver’s side said, “I’m going to need you to do that, too.”

Now why would both need to step out the car? What is going on? Does this happen to all dads or is mine getting racially profiled in this small town of Alabama? My dad is a veteran, he served this country for 10 years.

They were out of the car for more than 45 minutes. I nestled my bunny in my lap praying this would be over already.

Looking out the back window, I see both cops talking and searching my dad and uncle. I know you’re probably thinking, they had to have done something, right?

Well yes, they did, they were born black. “Oh my, he is making his way back to the car, he looks so scary,” I said to my brother as I wiped my face. A big, bright light flashed in my brother’s and my face.

“How old are ya’ll and do you know those two men over there?” asked the officer pointing to my dad and uncle.

We both yelled with frustration that is our dad and uncle.

“Do they drink? Do they have weapons in the car?” the officer asked.

“Um, is this a routine stop?” asked my brother.

The cop, provoking us, opens the passenger door searching for something. I’m shaken up as I wonder what in the world is going on.

I see one of the cops slam my uncle’s head on the trunk of the cop car. Fifteen minutes go by and my uncle and dad come back to the car.

“What happened?” I asked.

Come to find out the police stopped them for not using their blinker and asked the following questions:

“Do you have any dead bodies in the car, boy?

Is ya’ll drinking tonight?

Did you kidnap those kids?”

They proceeded with, “We talked to your kids, they told us everything so you might as well tell the truth.”

That last one really got me. I learned a valuable lesson. I learned what provoking was without knowing what to call it.

So, let me ask you again, does this happen to your dad, too, for a turn-signal stop? As a Black person, I don’t want to hear how all cops aren’t bad. Let’s not justify things people already know. The fact that I even have to say my dad is a veteran shouldn’t even matter. Being profiled for your color should not be a thing. Police should do their jobs. Period.

That wouldn’t be the last time my dad would get pulled over in that same town of Abbeville. He can’t escape that country town. It’s the only way to get to Dothan, where his mother and father live. “They set traps out there. I must make sure I’m doing everything 100 percent right,” my dad said.

He served this country, but when he comes home, he is an alien in his own country. He fights for a country that does not fight for him. So, I don’t want to hear that all cops aren’t bad. Let’s fix the system so that things like this don’t happen.

“I’m just blessed we were able to walk away from that day,” said my uncle. He’s right, I should be grateful, right? I should be grateful that I didn’t lose my dad and uncle for being born with something that they can’t control.

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