“Thought Experiments”: Fiction by Ron Burch

CW: police brutality

Thought Experiment 1

You are a white person. You have never been in trouble with law enforcement.

You are driving to work. A police car pulls you over. You remove your driver license and registration. Over their loudspeaker, a police officer demands that you put your hands in the air. Both officers have their guns drawn. “What’s going on?” you ask. You are confused. One officer says, “Don’t move or I’ll fucking shoot you.” You are now afraid and try not to move. One of the officers throws you against the car. Your face hits the edge of the roof and begins to bleed. “What did I do?” you ask. The officers do not answer you as they tightly cuff your hands behind you. “You fit the description of someone who committed a crime” is what they say. An hour passes. Your face still bleeds. You can no longer feel your hands because of the cuffs. After more time, they finally remove the cuffs and say you can go. You are terribly late for work. Your face still bleeds. You ask them questions but they get in their car and go.

1) How do you feel about the behavior of the police?
2) Has it changed your attitudes to the police and in what way?
3) Do you accept this encounter as a reality of being protected by law enforcement?

 

Thought Experiment 2

You are a white person. Your husband is a white person. Neither of you have been in trouble with law enforcement.

Your husband is taking you and your two kids, an eight-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl, to Disneyland for the day. You are all singing along to a song on the radio when a police car pulls you over. There are two police officers. One approaches on the passenger side and one on the driver’s side. They have their guns drawn. The one on the passenger side is yelling, “License and registration.” Your daughter starts crying. She is loud. The radio is loud. Your son screams. Your husband yells to the cops, “It’s okay, officers.” He reaches for his driver’s license, which is in the rear pocket of his jeans. He also tells the officer, “I just want you to know that I have a firearm.” Your husband is a member of the NRA. He believes in the 2nd Amendment. His firearm is legal. The police officer shoots your husband. Shocked, you scream, “You shot my husband!” The police officer shoots him again. Later, the court system exonerates the police officer. Your husband is dead. Your children witnessed his killing.

1) How do you feel about the behavior of the police?
2) Has it changed your attitudes to the police and the court system and in what ways?
3) Do you thank the officers and members of the jury for trying to do their duty of protecting the public?

 

Thought Experiment 3

You are a white person. You have never been in trouble with law enforcement.

Five cops surround you. They each have their black batons raised in the air like flagless poles. You are on the ground. They are taking turns hitting your body. Your bloody arms cover your head. You plead, “What did I do?” They do not answer your questions. They only demand that you don’t move. You try not to move but you react to the clubs breaking your bones so you move. You and the police are stuck in a loop. They continue to beat you. One club ruptures your kidney. Another club breaks your ribs, which pierce your left lung. One club breaks a whole in your skull cavity. Blood fills your mouth. You can no longer breathe. You realize the pool gathering around you is blood and urine, your blood and urine. You try to plead, “Stop” but your teeth are broken. The police officers continue to beat you until you are no longer there to be beaten.

1) How do you feel about the behavior of the police?
2) Has it changed your attitudes to the police and in what way?
3) Does it not matter any more because you are finally dead?

 

 

***

Ron Burch‘s fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi Review, Eleven Eleven, PANK, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Bliss Inc., his debut novel, was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles. 

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