Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It Was a Clear Case of Unmistaken Identity

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It Was a Clear Case of Unmistaken Identity

Article excerpt

I commute by bus from my home on Cape Cod to Boston, where I teach at Emerson College. The buses are old - cold in winter and hot in summer. Fumes sometimes rise from the engine into the coach, which packs its 47 passengers so tightly that the back of the seat in front of you makes it almost impossible to hold a book in your lap.

Today, I have a shopping bag at my feet, filled with 90 applications to our master of fine arts program in creative writing. On this morning, I am reading a textbook to refresh my lecture for a poetry workshop later in the day.

As we approach downtown on Route 93, a mile or so from South Station, four state police cars - sirens on and lights swirling - surround the bus. Our driver pulls to the shoulder.

The regulars, including me, think the police must have spotted a flat tire or smoking engine, as sometimes happens with this fleet. But why so much attention?

As soon as the driver opens the door, five imposing state troopers enter and rush down the aisle, the lead trooper pointing to each male passenger and demanding, "ID from you! ID from you! ID from you!"

The trooper behind him inspects each one. A businessman who stands to retrieve his briefcase from the overhead rack is pushed back in his seat.

When the trooper in charge reaches my row, he skips me and continues to call for IDs.

The trooper grabs one guy and frisks him against the door to the bathroom. As he does, he nods to an officer to seize the man in the seat behind me. The trooper tells him to stand and asks his name.

He says, "James Brasfield, sir."

"Your real name."

"James Brasfield."

"Let's see your ID."

The officer takes it and then handcuffs him and leads him off the bus.

The trooper apologizes to the man he frisked, explaining, "I needed a decoy while we got the guy we wanted."

The next day, the Boston Herald will quote one of the policeman as saying, "It was crazy, right out of a movie."

As our bus merges back into traffic, the driver announces he had been radioed that an escaped murderer was on board and would be arrested at the station. He adds that they decided the man was too dangerous for them to wait and so took action on the highway. …

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