2002-10-05 / Columnists

From the G-Man

By Gary G. Toms

Enter The Dragon

Hey people! There are two things I want to discuss this week. I'll start by telling you about a very disturbing situation that took place two weeks ago, and how I was forced to get involved.

It was during the early morning hours, sometime between two and three in the morning, when I was jolted from my sleep after hearing a series of gunshots in the Beach 41 Housing Complex. The shots were followed by several screams, and I suddenly found myself becoming very angry. As I lay in bed, I said to myself, "When will these jackasses learn? It hasn't been a month since Willie Velez was gunned down (just around the corner from where I heard the shots) and they want to start up again with the nonsense."

I jumped up out of bed, and I was dressed in a matter of seconds. I grabbed my press pass, in the event that police stopped me for questioning, and I bolted out the door and down the stairs of the building. An ambulance and three police cars were already on the scene, but there was no one in custody or that appeared to be injured.

"What's going on?" a young woman asked one of the officers.

"No one knows anything yet. There was a report of shots fired. There are some guys down at the end of the block that were here when the shooting started, but they're not saying anything," replied the cop.

You know where The G-man was headed. I walked by them once or twice to figure how I should present myself to them. I figured the best way was to be honest.

"What's up fellas? Listen, I'm not a cop."

I took this as an opportunity to display my press credentials.

"I'm the Associate Editor of The Wave, and I heard the gunshots earlier. I'm not saying you guys had anything to do with it, but I am asking that if you know who is busting shots out here, tell them to chill before someone else gets killed."

Most of the young men listened with great interest to what I was saying, and they acknowledged the fact that I was trying to keep the peace in the community.

"Yo, we feel you. We know what you're saying. You right, you right," said one of the young men.

Just as I felt that I was actually making ground with the young men, "the fool" appeared.

"Yo, son! Take that bull#@!$ out of here. Ain't nobody trying to hear you. What? We supposed to be scared because you step to us with some corny badge (press pass) like you the police? Get the f*&% out of here!"

"Listen you ignorant jackass! I love this community, and I'm not trying to see another Willie Velez situation out here tonight," I snapped.

"F*** all that noise son! I think you better step off before you get hurt out here. This ain't got nothing to do with you. This is how it go down in Far Rockaway, kid! This is how we do things out here," replied the fool.

"That's how you do things if I let you get away with it. I'm not having it, and I'm prepared to do whatever I have to do to try and stop anyone else from dying. Now what?"

The fool then proceeded to tell me to press my lips against a certain part of his genitalia.

At this point, his friends were laughing hysterically. I felt like a total idiot, if only for a moment.

"You all are fools. Don't laugh at him because he is exactly what's wrong with our community," I yelled.

A few of the young men looked at me with a seriousness that I had not seen earlier.

"I didn't have to get out of my bed to come out here. I could've stayed upstairs. I don't need this. A lot of people wouldn't have bothered trying to talk to you because they feel you're a lost cause. They've given up on you. Recognize why I'm stepping to you. If you know who's firing guns out here, tell them to squash it. I've got a mother, sister, a niece and a nephew that live here, and I'm not trying to see them, or anyone else here, catch a bullet."

The fool, along with a few others, kept taunting me, but most of the young men were listening intently. As I walked away, I tapped one young man, who was wearing a "doo-rag", on the shoulder.

"Thanks for listening, man," I said.

He nodded his head and flashed me the "Black Power" symbol. Several others shook their heads in agreement as I walked off. The fool could still be heard mouthing off in the distance. Within minutes, he was being challenged by a woman, describing herself as a concerned mother of two, and very respected in the community, to reveal who the shooter was. Soon, other young people joined her in denouncing the actions of the fool.

As I made my way back to the building, I looked around the area. An elderly man and woman, who came out to see what had happened, approached me. They witnessed my confrontation with the young men.

"We know who you are. You took a real chance going up to those boys. It's not like you're a policeman, and you have a weapon to defend yourself young man. You had nothing. They might have shot you, if they were responsible for the shooting," said the elderly man.

"They might have, but that's the chance I took coming out here in the first place. You have to fight for what you believe in. Besides, dragons die hard, sir," I said with a smile.

The couple smiled, and I went back into the building.

The next thing I want to discuss is my encounter with two of "New York's Finest." While visiting a friend in Jamaica, Queens recently, I was stopped by police while in route to get some snacks for the Giants football game. The patrol car whizzed past me, and then abruptly backed up. The car pulled up next to me, and one officer came around the side, while the other slowly exited the vehicle.

"Come here!" said the officer exiting the car.

"Excuse me?" I replied.

"I said come here!" the officer yelled.

With my eye following his partner, I stood in place as the officers approached.

"Where you going?" the officer asked in a nasty tone.

I told him that I was going to the store, and as I lifted my hand to point in the direction of the store, he immediately placed his hand on the handle of his weapon. I laughed as a result.

"What? Is something funny? Did I make a joke?" he snapped.

"Let's start over, okay? How can I assist you gentlemen?" I said.

"You talk when I tell you to talk," said the cop, as his partner stared intensely at a photo he was holding.

"What's your name?" snapped the candidate for "Officer of the Year."

I just smiled.

"You're a wise-ass, huh? Show me some I.D."

"If you will allow me to go to my vehicle, I will be more than happy to show you my identification," I said.

"No I.D., huh? What's your name?"

I smiled again.

"Sir, if you'd just let me get my I.D. I could...."

"I said what's your name," he yelled.

Now, I was ready to give them a taste of The G-man.

"Gary G. Toms, Associate Editor of The Wave newspaper," I replied.

The officers abruptly took two steps back.

"If you wish to validate my claim, get Detective Cortez down here right now. The detective, who I'm sure you know because he's in your precinct, is a highly decorated veteran within the NYPD. We have a long-standing relationship as friends.

"Oh, listen. We didn't mean any disrespect sir," said Officer Nasty's partner.

"You just resemble a suspect we are looking for."

"Officer, while that may indeed be the case, that does not justify or explain the rude and disrespectful manner in which I was spoken to by your partner," I said.

"Oh, and for the record. I will be contacting your commanding officer and Detective Cortez to inform them of your weak attempts at courtesy, professionalism and respect," I stated.

"Now, if there are no further questions gentlemen, I bid you a good day."

The officers, who looked to be in a state of disbelief and fear, got into their vehicle and looked back at me several times.

"By the way, you may want to think twice the next time you stop someone and talk to them in that manner, especially if they fit the 'profile,' I said sarcastically.

The officers, now thoroughly dejected, just peeled out.

Much to their credit, the NYPD, reprimanded "Officer Nasty" several days later, which was a true testament to the fact that not all cops are bad.

See you next week!

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