Hey folks, I apologize for being absent of late – lots of things going on, and we’ll catch up later on that.
In the meantime, I came across this horrific video that triggered a lot of really painful memories.
If your Romanian is a little rusty, what happened was that a young man (he looks about 20) was picked up by the police in Barlad. According to the police, the man was intoxicated (from drugs) and causing a disturbance at the market.
What happened then was quite unusual – two guys who didn’t know the arrested man saw the police beating up their prisoner. They got in their car and followed the police car out of town where it was heading down a rural road that leads to a nearby forest.
The civilians then began arguing with the cops, who said they were taking the prisoner to a “psychiatric hospital”. But all of Barlad’s hospitals and police stations are in town, and not in the direction the cops were driving. After the civilians confronted the cops, the police turned their vehicle around and then drove back into town.
It’s hard to see from the video above how the cops were beating their prisoner (unedited footage here), but the civilians clearly witnessed it. And, so far, the Barlad police have refused to answer journalists’ questions about why they were transporting a prisoner down a rural road that leads to nothing but a forest (and no jails, hospitals, or other official destinations).
In Romania, the police are quite evil. That’s the only way to summarize it. They’re often busy robbing tourists, going on international crime sprees, shooting petty thieves, tear gasing shepherds, and hiding behinds masks and uniforms with no nametags.
The truth is that the cops are so bad in Romania that they’ve been the subject of extensive reports and condemnations, including from the EU’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture. And, in my own experience, I’ve heard from homeless people, mentally ill people, and Gypsies about regularly being beaten up, robbed, and dumped in forests (or other rural areas outside of town) by cops. Cluj’s long-time racist and Communist bootlicker mayor, Emil Boc, has personally encouraged this behavior, and it’s pretty prevalent nationwide.
But what triggered a near panic attack this morning while watching the video above was my own scary encounter with the cops back in 2014. Much like the man in the video, I too was put inside a cop car with one guy in the back seat. And I nearly became a victim like the guy in the video, only no one was there to witnesit.
What saved me was two things: first, my lawyer warned me to call her if the cops starting beating me up. I thought that was a preposterous idea, especially considering I was a foreigner with a lawyer, but after several long hours on the road and all of us speaking Romanian, that assault nearly did happen.
The second thing that saved me was my own experience, learned from years of spending time in very high-crime neighborhoods and places in the United States. If you’ve ever seen a prison movie where the new guy (“fresh fish”) picks a fight on his first day so that the fellow prisoners will respect him, you’ve got a good idea of what I’m talking about. In more academic terms, let’s call it the alpha factor.
Long story short? The asshole cop driving the car got sick of my “mouth” and threatened to pull over on the side of a very rural road so all three cops could beat the shit out of me. I was scared as hell, but I acted incredibly defiant, banging on the seat and saying the Romanian equivalent of, “You want some? You come get you some!”, taunting them that their three lazy, fat asses couldn’t defeat me.
Well, it worked. No one laid a finger on me, which is more than that poor, confused guy in Barlad can say. But it was damn close, and damn scary. I was already locked in a car with three psycho lawbreakers, and they clearly shared a history of assaulting people whom they didn’t like. And they damn sure didn’t like me, especially since I was a “criminal” in their eyes. The pain from that memory still haunts me today, especially when I see it happening to someone else.
It truly is a shame that Romania is such a wonderful country for tourists yet still operates their law enforcement divisions virtually unchanged from the days of the Securitate and secret police.