Miami cops smash the camera of a man who filmed them killing someone. Denver cops try to frame a young woman on trumped-up charges. These incidents from last year are not aberrations, but business as usual in cities all over the world; there have been plenty more this year. This is why I think it is important to offer meditation instruction in community centers, shelters and jails.
Meditative practice is widely regarded as the province of the well-fed, and being without practical use. It is actually a practice that can keep you from going to jail, or being beaten by cops.
The myth about cops is that there are good ones and bad ones. The reality is that there are mostly only varying degrees of bad, because the conditioned police mentality is a pathological one. (If you think it is ever a good idea to talk to them, I recommend watching this video, in which a veteran cop will set you straight.)
Beat cops prey on poor people. If you have money and position, and talk back to a swaggering cop who has pulled you over, you will most likely receive nothing more than a ticket, if that, because they will let you go, then find easier victims, rather than risk a lawsuit from you. (This is why cops ask you your occupation, without telling you that you have no obligation to answer.) But the same does not apply to the poor or uneducated person who talks back; without fear of sanction, the cops demand deference, and the situation escalates. I have visited people in jail or in the hospital who got there just by refusing to be pushed around by a cop. I have attended the funerals of others.
Cops, high on petty authority, become aggressive when they encounter resistance. However, if you are obsequious, they often feel more powerful, and may hurt you just because they can.
The safest reaction to the aggression of a uniformed thug is no reaction at all. Not an aggressive reaction, which will only feed the cop’s aggression, and not a timid, nervous reaction, which will tell him/her that you are an easy victim. When you give a cop nothing to react to, neither yielding nor resisting, offering neither insolence nor deference, the situation is less likely to escalate to a confrontation.
How do you do that? By not involving the self. Reactive responses to anger and fear are born of ego. Without attachment to self, you give a cop no one to fight with, no one to control. A volatile situation then has nothing to help it explode, and anyone seeking drama and confrontation has to look for it elsewhere.
It is not just cops; the street throws any number of dangerous, often life-threatening, situations at us. Some are unavoidable, but many can be defused by letting go of any self that might want to be defended. The clarity of the awakened heart can be temporarily contagious.