Barry Saunders

Not everyone could get away with what Uber-driving lawyer did – Saunders

Cops tell Uber driver it’s against the law to record police. No it’s not

A Wilmington, NC police officer was caught on camera telling an Uber driver that it’s against North Carolina law to record police. There is no such law. Now the Wilmington Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the Feb. 26 i
Up Next
A Wilmington, NC police officer was caught on camera telling an Uber driver that it’s against North Carolina law to record police. There is no such law. Now the Wilmington Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the Feb. 26 i

You’re right. It’s way too late – or way too early – to start bugging Santa Claus, but when the time comes for making Christmas wishes, guess what I will be requesting.

An official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock?

No.

A shiny new Schwinn?

Already got one collecting dust in the garage.

How about that meat-of-the-month club membership from the Carnivore Club?

Negative. (I’m going vegetarian this year – except for beef and pork.)

The gift I crave is the ability to tell a cop “Naw, I ain’t gettin’ out of this car and you can’t make me” and live to tell about it.

Jesse Bright, an Uber-driving lawyer in Wilmington, did that recently when he refused to cease recording his interaction with a Wilmington police officer and then disputed the cop’s contention that it was illegal for him to do so.

Bright was right, and as a result of standing – OK, sitting – his ground, he is being hailed as a latter-day Rosa Parks, as Gary Cooper facing down the Miller gang in “High Noon,” as Billy Jack with a hack’s license standing tall against the state.

Perhaps Bright deserves the plaudits. Can you imagine, though, if Jesse Bright had been named Jamal Bright or Daquan Bright or Hector Gonzalez Bright and had asserted his right to keep filming, and then on top of everything else had refused to get out of the car?

Just ruminate on the ramifications of such a rebellious response for a few seconds.

No, really. Just a few seconds more.

How long do you think it would have taken before the exasperated officer would have escalated the situation or, you know, smashed the window or mistaken the camera for a weapon?

You know, if you’re being honest, that just about every time we see some unarmed, non-violent black man aerated by a cop or treated like a pinata, the predictable chorus from cop apologists begins:

Some people are attempting to denigrate him for driving an Uber to pay his school loans. What kind of lawyer drives for Uber? The kind who has student loans to pay off.

Why don’t those people comply with the officer?

Why must those people always talk back?

Yet, when Bright talks back to a cop, continues recording him after the cop tells him it’s illegal (it isn’t), refuses to exit the vehicle, the response is different. Dude becomes a danged hero.

Sure, some people are attempting to denigrate him for – get this – driving an Uber to pay his school loans. What kind of lawyer drives for Uber? they ask.

The kind who has student loans to pay off.

Not even his detractors are calling him lawless for asserting his rights, though.

When my buddies Ed and Maurice called separately last week to tell my about the video, it sounded like they had just seen a basketball player hit a 360-degree, buzzer-beating layup to win the game.

“Man, did you see that move?” is essentially what they asked. They weren’t marveling at some basketball shot, though. They were marveling at the Uber driver’s uber bravery and the fact that he didn’t get shot.

Just as we’d likely end up in traction for attempting such an acrobatic move on the basketball court, we’d surely end up in traction or worse for attempting the move Bright put on the Wilmington officer.

In the scores and scores of times I’ve been pulled over by the police, I have never become belligerent or even asserted my innocence. No percentages in it. The one time I tried to speak up, perhaps a month after getting my driver’s license, I told Officer Hill of the Atlanta Police Department that I hadn’t run a red light, that the light was yellow.

“I can give you a ticket for running a green light if I want to,” was his memorable response.

I shut up. I respect the cops – and 98 percent of the time, they’ve respected me.

In high school, I was rebuffed – SURPRISE! – when trying to put the moves on a girl.

“B-b-b-but you let Billy Ray,” I said.

Hard to believe that line didn’t work.

“You ain’t Billy Ray,” she shot back, shooting me down. “You can’t do what he do.”

That’s my advice to any black and brown dudes who may have become emboldened by what transpired in Wilmington.

You ain’t Jesse Bright. You can’t do what he do.

But if you’re a good boy, perhaps Santa will – nah, never mind.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments