Last week, I could have sworn my daughter and I were stopped by ICE--Immigration and Customs Enforcement cops--in the Red Line L station at Roosevelt about noon. But now I don't know what the heck happened.
I put up a post on Facebook right after our stop. And got more commentary than any other post I ever put up since I started posting in 2009. Comments of concern (oh, you poor things), scorn (are you making a joke about all of this?), disbelief (ICE??????) and "that's par for the course right now."
It was a fairly breezy experience for us. We went through the turnstile with our Ventra cards. We both have half-price cards with our pictures on them: I have a senior card and she has a card for the disabled. Our police-state inquisitors were kind and jolly and dressed in black. The black ICE-like uniforms--as well as the news that people suspected of being illegal immigrants are being stopped a mile a minute these days--was the reason I assumed they were from ICE.
But, in fact, I don't know if they were ICE guys or not.
Two different men in black asked to see our cards. They looked at them and were nice and kind and did not think we were illegal immigrants, I figured. They said, after looking, "Hi, Bonnie; Hi, Molly."
We got on the train, now running late to meet a friend, and I immediately put up an irreverent post, weirdly proud of the fact that we were part of the news, part of the scene, stopped like anyone else who may be suspected of residing in the US illegally.
But people questioned not only my black humor--but whether the black uniforms were really those of ICE cops. And they also asked why we didn't resist. Why should we show those cops our card without a fight? And what if we had regular Ventra cards without our pictures? Would we have been asked for other IDs? And what if we had said no to that?
I was even asked to be a plaintiff in a class action civil rights suit.
The mystery deepened in my heart. And in my mind. And I have to say that my empathy for those stopped who may not have been greeted so pleasantly--but instead with handcuffs and Miranda warnings--increased to very very very very high levels.
I went back to the station that night to ask what my earlier-in-the-day inquisition was all about. They really didn't seem to think much of it. And weren't quite sure what I was talking about. A neighbor who found my story piquing her own curiosity, went over to ask about it, too.
They told us both that the officers must have been from the Canine Unit.
But there were no dogs.
My neighbor said they told her they were probably looking for expired Ventra cards. She interpreted that to mean stolen cards.
What good would an expired--or a lost or stolen--card be to anyone, though? You still have to put the money on it to keep it going. And can't they be disabled by the office in any case? Why look for needles in haystacks, anyway?
I ran into our neighborhood CAPS representative that evening, too, who mentioned that Wednesdays were the highest crime days at that station and maybe they were investigating, preventing, surveilling That didn't make too much sense to me either.
In any case, I learned a few lessons. Don't be so cavalier when it comes to sudden stops by the police. What if we were illegals who had a life in Chicago and were carted away and thrown across the border, losing our lives in Chicago?
And ask questions right at the time any mysterious happening like this stop occurs.
Who? What? Why? These words should have been my three watchwords.
But they weren't. And now I may never know why it all happened? Who were they? Why us? What was it all for?
Anyone have the real answer?