On the morning of Thanksgiving, Caesar Baldemor was enjoying a leisurely drive through Hialeah en route to his parents’ house and the promise of his mothers home cooking. Visions of the Thanksgiving feast danced in his mind to the rhythm of his car stereo.
As the 26-year old pulled up to a stoplight on West 60th Street, the sound of legendary Los Angeles rap group N.W.A.’s now ubiquitous classic “Fuck tha Police” could be heard bumping through the streets. In that same moment, Hialeah Police Officer Harold Garzon was standing nearby, filling out some paperwork from a traffic accident.
Upon hearing the song, Officer Garzon, who according to records is a 17-year veteran with 16 internal affairs cases against him, immediately pulled Baldemor over.
Thinking he could intimidate the young man, Garzon told him it was illegal to play loud music within 25 feet of another person. However, Baldemor a double Harvard graduate now studying law at Florida International University knew better and put the enforcing officer in check.
“In 2012 the state supreme court struck down any law banning loud music,” Baldemor said in an interview with the Miami New Times. “I knew that because it was a case I had actually studied in law school.”
Not one to have his ego attacked, Garzon grew even more upset, calling in two more police officers for back up and then demanding proof of insurance. When Baldemor presented the documents on his phone, he was rebuffed with claims that it had to be on presented a paper (this is untrue as Florida changed that law over a year ago).
By the end of the exchange, Garzon had issued three tickets; one for the insurance, one for having an out-of-state license plate, and one for not wearing a seat belt. Baldelomar states he was wearing his seat belt the entire time and is legally still a resident of Massachusetts.
However, Baldemor would not be intimated, he refused to sign the tickets and will fight them in court. He even has plans to file an official complaint against Garzon, seeing this incident connecting directly to the nationwide injustice of police officers continually abusing their powers.
“I’m educated. I know my rights. And I speak English, so I can fight this,” he said. “But what about when this happens to someone who’s not so lucky? Policing has to change in this country.”
Hialeah is no stranger to violating the rights of citizens, having detained a PINAC crew last year for making a public records request (photos in that story were lost in the Great PINAC Crash of 2014, but we reposted on below).
Almost twenty years after its initial release, “Fuck Tha Police” is a sentiment that still resonates across the country, especially as cases such the ones involving Eric Garner and Michael Brown leave many wondering if justice in this country truly exists for black and brown citizens. Rapper Ice Cube’s lyrics echo hauntingly with the frustration that cops still “have the authority to kill a minority.”
It was only last week where a Georgia woman won a $100,000 settlement after she was arrested for holding her middle finger up towards cops while standing on a public sidewalk, saying “fuck the police.”