Sign of the times: I was a victim of a bogus cop call in Montclair (Letter to the editor)
I am a 63-year-old African American male, born and raised and still living in Montclair. I say this to say that I am truly "from Montclair," not someone who has recently shown up.
I grew up in a community that was known for and prided itself on its diversity. That's not to say that Montclair was some kind of racially blessed Utopia, but we did a good enough job of getting along to warrant the distinction of being labeled diverse. Those of you who are truly "from Montclair" understand where I'm coming from.
This past Memorial Day weekend, I pulled into Lewellyn Road and parked in the middle of the block with the homes to the left and the woods of Nishuane Park to the right. I was there to do my semiannual three-step polish and wax process. I've been coming to this spot for years because it's a quiet street and it provides great shade so that you are not applying the wax to a hot car.
All of the joggers, walkers and bike riders were friendly and said hello. I had my praise music going and my spirit was soothed as I applied the elbow grease.
Two hours into the process, a police officer that I knew pulled up and parked behind me. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. The officer informed me that someone on Lewellyn Road had called the police and said I was playing my music to loud. The only problem with this scenario was that I was listening to the music through my phone while wearing Bluetooth headphones.
The officer was slightly embarrassed and apologetic, but I told him not to worry that he was just doing his job. We shook hands again and wished each other well, as he was getting into his car he told me my car was looking nice. I wonder what the person who made this bogus call thought when they saw this respectful exchange between police and an innocent resident.
I finished my wax job and decided to post a shorter version of this letter on Facebook, and sent this longer version to Montclair Local.
It's a sad state of affairs when someone will call the Montclair Police Department and tell a bald-faced lie to use the police as an agent to address their personal bias and prejudice. Two years ago, Montclair gained national attention when "Permit Karen" on Marion Road put on a display that the whole nation saw.
While this incident doesn't rise to that level, it's enough to warrant a mention in the Local's Letters to the Editor section.
These types of incidents, if not handled properly, can quickly spiral out of control and have dire consequences as we have all seen far too many times. The Montclair Police was professional and courteous.
I'm not blind to what is happening to Montclair in general, and America in particular. Unfortunately, we live in an era where extreme mistrust, division and lies are common practices. I pray every day for strength, wisdom, patience, and forgiveness, but it's clear that there are many individuals who are going to put those virtues to a test. The time may have come that when we think of Montclair's diversity that we may need to redefine just exactly what that means?"
Jeffrey Robert Grayson
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