KENOSHA, WI—Local computer programmer and noted white person Eric Swanson has been telling friends for weeks that he can empathize with protesters demanding police reform. Swanson, 32, hasn’t attended any protests that have transfixed the nation, but he’s pretty sure he understands those on the front lines.
“I know all about bad cops,” he said while taking a sip of Pabst Blue Ribbon. “There was this one time, I ran into the CVS for like two seconds and when I came back this cop was writing me a ticket. She was all like, ‘Sir, you can’t park here.’ And I was like, ‘Why the hell not?’ And she’s like, ‘It’s a handicapped spot. People who have limited mobility need to park closer,’ and I was like, ‘Whatever.’”
Swanson recounted another run-in with police from earlier this year.
“Me and a buddy went down to Milwaukee on a Saturday night. I was a little high, not too bad, just a little stanky; anyway, I was really hungry so I ask this cop where the nearest Taco Bell is and he didn’t tell me! He just drove off when the light turned green,” Swanson said. “That’s why they should be defunded!”
According to his friends, Swanson has been like this for a while. Mark Roberts, a friend since childhood, shook his head and sighed when asked about Swanson’s recent comments on police.
“What do you want me to say? He’s a nice guy but sometimes he can be a little much,” Roberts said. “I told him that I saw a poll where 67 percent of Americans say cops are bias toward African Americans, and he said, ‘They’re bias toward everybody’, and I said ‘How can they be bias to everybody, that makes no sense?’ ”
Roberts said he and some other friends have attended two recent Black Lives Matter rallies.
“The speakers really made me think about all the times I’ve just taken it for granted that, because I’m white, that the cops would treat me fairly. I texted Eric and told him to come down but he flaked,” Roberts said.
Swanson’s girlfriend, Amanda Sims, said Swanson can be a little self-absorbed.
“He told you I was his girlfriend?” Sims said, with eyes widening. “OK, we went on two dates. TWO! The first one, he goes on and one about how he called 911 to get a ride to work when his car was broken down and they wouldn’t do it, and on the second date he said he got a parking ticket at the drug store…he told you, too? Oh, God.”
Swanson added that he’s pretty sure his black friends would understand, if he had any.