While walking along Houston Street, I was stopped by a female police officer. She was blocking foot traffic from passing the entrance of a warehouse loading dock, though gave no indication why. Soon, I was joined by two or three other pedestrians in waiting. The woman to my left seemed annoyed, or was at least preparing herself to feel annoyed and inconvenienced. I think this is a common behavior in New Yorkers—a constant internal "should I be annoyed at this?" alert.
Suddenly, a parade of young, sad-faced gentlemen proceeded out of the warehouse, escorted by other policemen. Each of these men had his hands bound together with chains, and another length of chain continuing down to his feet, which were also shackled together. Some of them were clutching lunch sacks, holding them with their fingers in a kind of pincer grip.
The way they were chained up forced them to shuffle or, if they wished to draw attention to themselves, frog walk all the way to the law enforcement bus blocking the truck entrance at the loading dock. And because they were so slow-moving, we all had a pretty good, curious look at them. I would say the men, most of whom were mustachioed, shared a common but vague ethnicity. It was something like Indopaktinorabian.
And because of the combination of heavy bondage, police presence, and uniform ethnicity, we onlookers were afforded the chance to play one of my favorite street games: "WHAT KIND OF RACIST AM I?" That's a game where you, the onlooker, get to silently speculate about why these particular men were being arrested, by assessing their ethnicity and crime most likely committed by said ethnicity. And your answer determines exactly what kind of racist you are.
Short-haired, middle-aged woman on her way back from firing someone:
"These men are illegals, and are being deported."
Thick-necked guy in expensive-looking, supple leather jacket who kept trying to catch my eye in that 'we both know what happened here' conspiratorial kind of way:
"Terror cell. I call them how I see them, and it's a good thing we got these guys."
Grown man in Columbia sportswear jacket and brown suede fedora:
"They were importing flying carpets."