Back in 1991, Two friends and I decided to quit our jobs and go explore the United States. The original plan was to simply drive west from New Jersey and see where the road would take us. As we started to come up with ideas, and places we wanted to see (My 2 were Devils Tower, Wyoming (From “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), and the city of Astoria, Oregon (Setting for “Kindergarten Cop”). My friends choose Yellowstone Park, and the Grand Canyon among there choices. We also decided to go to a bunch of baseball games, as well as stop by and see a friend on Boulder Colorado. As we started planning , we realized that we needed reservations to most National Parks and you had to make them nearly a year in advance. We decided to make out adventure more of a scheduled trip across the United States, so we rented a Mini Van and after some negotiations and assistance from one of my friends mother, (You need to be 25 to rent a Mini Van and you can only rent it for a maximum of a 1 month; which was not enough time for our trip), we got things settles and in July of 1991 we were on our way.
We did a lot of driving / camping / site seeing as we drive across the Northern United States on the way out to California (Where we needed to return our rented Mini Van and then re-rent it right back) and then across the Southern United States on the way back (including stopping in Boulder to see a friend, and take a bunch of his stuff with us since he was getting ready to move back east)
Eventually the together time and expenses caught up to as and we decided to cut the trip a bit short and after hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and then back up, we decided to head straight home.
As were were driving through Kansas, we were pulled over by state troopers. I don’t remember why they pulled us over, all I know if they told us to get out of the car, and they immediately split us up, one going in from of the van, one going behind the van, and one going on the shoulder of the road. I remember the office telling me that the were checking for drugs since we had NJ Plates, and any young kids driving through Kansas must be smuggling drugs. After questioning us individually, they made us empty out the van as they went through our stuff (which was basically tents, coolers, and dirty clothes. We got a little nervous when they started going through our friend for Boulders stuff, since we had no idea what was in it (Luckily it was clean). Then an officer asked me about a small locked box they found. I told him it had travelers checks (For those to young to remember – Travelers checks were used as money when traveling before there were ATMs; they could be tracked and returned if stolen, which was far more safe then carrying around a lot of cash). I also had some film (again, this was 1991, there were no digital cameras), as well as receipts and reservations needed for our trip). He made me unlock it, and then he flicked it open with a stick and ran back (like he was expecting it to explode). After about 30 min, they told us we were good to go, and left, leaving us to put everything back into the van before heading on our way. No Thank You, or any other explanation
This is where the title of this post comes in. Saw a story yesterday about the Delaware State University women’s Lacrosse Team bus being pulled over and searched for drugs. as they returned from a lacrosse tournament in Florida. The police searched through everybody’s stuff and kept reminded them that in Georgia, drugs are still illegal, if they found any drugs or devices used to smoke drugs that they would be in trouble. As I read this I though of our trip and the incident listed above. To make things even more similar, one of the girls had a package that she had gotten from a relative while at the lacrosse tournament and was told to wait until she got home to open it. The police questioned her about it, an then took it and opened it and went through it looking for drugs (it was actually a graduation present of jewelry).
We were pulled over for being young kids driving a van through Kansas (not necessary racial profiling), and while annoying, never felt threatened, or traumatized, and actually can look back at this and laugh
These women were pulled over for racial profiling, and according to what I read, some of them were pretty shook up and traumatized for being accused of things without any real merit.
You would think that after 31 years that state police would have better things to do then to racially profile people driving down the highway, and treat them like criminals and assume they may be running a drug ring out of there school bus. This is why there is such distrust among people and the police. Pull people over if you want, but if you treat people with respect and dignity (It wasn’t like this was a supped up sports car with tinted windows going 90 mph down the highway, it was a College Bus), things like this do not need to become major stories.
Thanks for listening. I will try and remember / track down some of the things we saw / did on our cross country trip and post them soon
Remember that there is a new episode of Survivor tonight. Getting intense and we closer to the end