When cops shoot off their mouths
There's a legendary scene from the 1974 blaxploitation classic movie, Truck Turner, starring the illustrious Isaac Hayes as the eponymous character. In this particular scene, a bevy of prostitutes are gathered at a cemetery, mourning their pimp, a man called 'Gator', who was shot and killed in a confrontation with Turner and his sidekick.
The mourners are led by a woman named Dorinda, Gator's self-styled 'bottom bitch'. The 'bottom bitch' is the prostitute that basically runs the day-to-day operations of the stable, collecting money on the pimp's behalf from the other prostitutes, and sending them on assignments. She's at a level where she no longer offers herself to clients and is prone to a violent reaction if you dare call her a hooker, despite the nature of her business.
Among the mourners are Gator's pimping colleagues from various parts of the pimping constituency, each dressed gaudily in chinchilla coats of so many colours as to make a rainbow look bland. Their outfits are completed by top hats and canes, with more diamonds hanging around their necks and wrists than you would find in Liberace's jewellery collection.
To pay respect to a man of Gator's standing in the pimp community, each of his colleagues approaches the open coffin with his bottom bitch on his arm and sprinkles a little cocaine from a small glass tube on to the dead man's hand. In the world of pimps, that's the ultimate mark of respect for a dead colleague.
A solemn look is on each pimp's face as they go through the ritual for their fallen soldier. But suddenly a Rolls-Royce drives up. It parks away from the other expensive chariots belonging to the mourners. Out of that vehicle steps the immaculately dressed Harvard Blue, played by Yaphet Kotto. Blue's name is reflected in his suit which is covered by an ostentatious mink coat.
Blue's arrival violently changes the mood at the funeral, without a word being uttered by anyone. The mourners hold a collective breath as Blue, with no bottom bitch on his arm but with two bodyguards in tow, strides up to the coffin.
Moment of disrespect
The air is filled with expectancy and the tension grips even the persons watching the movie, causing them to stop breathing in that moment. And then Blue reaches the coffin. He pauses and searches the face of Gator's bottom bitch for emotion. He then bends suddenly and spits in the face of Gator. He straightens up, searches Dorinda's face again, daring her to even appear as if she's upset by his deed.
Dorinda manages to suppress a reaction and Blue holds the gaze, before turning on his heel, strides back to his car and is driven away. Dorinda shakes with rage but only after Blue's back is turned and perhaps after she's sure he's too far away to feel her disgust.
Ask those who've watched this movie and they'll tell you it's arguably the most enduring scene. They'll never forget what happened at that funeral and how the fear of Blue immobilised all mourners to the extent they said and did nothing when he scaled the heights of disrespect by spitting in the face of their sugar daddy, boss, friend, business partner and colleague.
Somehow, I see parallels between that movie scene and what the chairman of the Police Federation, Sergeant Raymond Wilson, did at the funeral of Woman Constable Crystal Thomas. In the same way that Blue changed the complexion of the funeral, so did Sergeant Wilson, with his crass comments attacking the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).
For those who skim articles and don't read them, I must stress that I am in no way comparing the late, beloved policewoman to any character in the movie. For clarity, I'm talking about the police sergeant.
I'm talking about how he marred the occasion by trying to turn the minds of his audience against INDECOM. I'm talking about how members of the audience, immobilised by the moment, failed to upbraid him for his asinine line of reasoning.
I'm talking about how, like Blue, he cared not about the occasion. I'm talking about how, by attacking INDECOM, he basically spat in the face of Jamaicans.
- George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.