Thanksgiving morning began sweetly for Cesar Baldelomar. No work. Beautiful weather. And good tunes thumping from his car stereo. As the 26-year-old cruised through Hialeah toward his parents' house, he could practically smell his mother's cooking wafting down 24th Avenue.
But when Baldelomar pulled up to the stoplight at West 60th Street, Hialeah Police Officer Harold Garzon was standing nearby, filling out some paperwork from a traffic accident. At that moment, another song came on Baldelomar's stereo. "Fuck tha police/Comin' straight from the underground," N.W.A. rapped. "A young n**** got it bad cause I'm brown / And not the other color so police think / they have the authority to kill a minority."
Then came the song's eponymous refrain -- "Fuck tha police!" -- four times in a row.
"Really?" Garzon said to Baldelomar through his open car window. "You're really playing that song? Pull over."
Garzon is a buzzcutted cop with sleeve tattoos and sunglasses. He's also a 17-year veteran with 16 internal affairs cases against him, according to records. (It's unclear how many were sustained; Hialeah PD didn't respond to New Times' requests for comment.)
But Baldelomar is no Hialeah bro. He's a double Harvard graduate now studying law at Florida International University. So when Garzon told him it was illegal to play loud music within 25 feet of another person, Baldelomar called bullshit.
"In 2012 the state supreme court struck down any law banning loud music," he says. "I knew that because it was a case I had actually studied in law school."
Garzon grew angry, though, when Baldelomar told him that fact. He called over two other cops and then demanded proof of insurance. Baldelomar pulled up his info on his phone, but Garzon waved it off, saying, "It's got to be paper." (It doesn't. Florida changed the law a year ago.)
Finally, Garzon tore off three tickets: one for the insurance, one for having an out-of-state license plate, and one for not wearing a seat belt. Baldelomar says he was wearing his seat belt the whole time and is still legally a resident of Massachusetts.
When Baldelomar asked where his noise violation was, Garzon told him to take off and not to get "smart."
But Baldelomar says he's not backing off. He refused to sign the bogus tickets and plans to fight them in court. He also says he'll file a complaint against Garzon (potentially IA case number 17 for him).
Baldelomar says he sees Garzon's actions as part of a much bigger problem of police abusing their authority, from Ferguson, Missouri, to South Florida.
"I'm educated. I know my rights. And I speak English, so I can fight this," he points out. "But what about when this happens to someone who's not so lucky? Policing has to change in this country."
In the words of Eazy-E: "I'm tired of the motherfuckin jackin / Sweatin my gang, while I'm chillin in the shack, and / shinin the light in my face, and for what?"
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