Gardner, Trella Oral History Interview

Creator: Gardner, Trella | Date: 2015-08-19
Collection: Righting the Record Oral History Project | Tags: , ,

TRELLA: Watch the news and I’ve seen and heard a lot. And I’ve known of other people that have had personal encounters with the police, and not so good. One instance was a friend of mine and there was an accident, and it involved one of the Cleveland policeman. And he was intoxicated, you know.

JARRETT: The policeman was? 

TRELLA: Yeah, he was intoxicated. And so you know, here my girlfriend was you know, she was involved in this accident, she’s all shook up and of course they call the police. Well when the other police came up and saw, you know, their buddy, a fellow policeman, obviously nothing happened, you know. I mean, it was like, well you know, let your insurance take care of it and they just, you know, let the guy go. I mean, what is the police gonna do with another policeman? Those are the kind of things, you know, personal incidences of, you know, that should not have been allowed. I mean, that’s not one of the worst things, but there have been other instances. My father, he was an elderly man, and he had an accident and it involved an off-duty policeman. And of course nothing happened. And whether my father was right or wrong, the police just totally ignored, you know. And that’s just common here, you know.

I mean, you’ve had incidences where a person have an involvement with the policeman and they’ll say. I was in a bar one time, this happened to me. And there was a female policewoman, and I was looking at her badge, just the number for like the lottery or something. She said, what are you looking at? And of course in full uniform and on duty, her and her partner, stood there and had drinks. You know, when she said what are you looking at, I said nothing. You know, I mean, cause I’m like it surprised me. How in the world, you know, but these things happen.

JARRETT: Why do you think they asked you that, in that manner? 

TRELLA: Well because I think she thought maybe I was trying to get her name or her badge number. But that at the time, that wasn’t on my mind, I was just looking at the number, like wow, you know. But when she asked in that manner, then it made me aware. Oh I definitely wouldn’t want to, you know, upset this lady or anything of that nature because here she was the police. And you know, it’s terrible when you don’t feel comfortable, you know, with the people that you’re supposed to be, feel safe and comfortable around, you’re not. You know, I mean, you actually, if you’re riding in traffic and you see a police car you get a little nervous cause you never know what might happen, you know. And I myself, I would not want to be approached by police, especially at night. Under no circumstances, cause I just, I don’t trust. And there was a time that that wouldn’t have never been a thought. You’d feel like this is safe now, but not anymore, and not here.

T-KAY: When do you think that changed?

TRELLA: You know, I don’t know cause I’ve never had a lot of dealings with the police. I did umpteen years ago. It was late at night, and I was coming home. And the police stopped me, and they asked where was I going, and I said home. And I was by myself, and I had been out and I had been partying and whatnot. And they got all my information, and then a couple hours later they appeared at my door.

T-KAY: After you go home?

TRELLA: Yeah, after I got home. And it just so happens, I had company. I had company.

T-KAY: And what did they want?

TRELLA: Well I don’t know, whatever they wanted, they didn’t get. But that was not a good thing, that’s for sure.

[greets passerby]

T-KAY: Did they give you any problems?

TRELLA: No, they just left. They didn’t—

T-KAY: Did they knock on the door, or?

TRELLA: Yeah, they knocked on the door. You know, I mean, it was a very strange encounter. And all of us were totally perplexed. They did not expect that I was going to have company, you know. Cause a friend of mine saw that I was still up and you know, followed me on home. But they didn’t know that, and they were totally shocked and surprised.

[comments about external surroundings]

So you know, that’s just, it’s just really terrible you know. And then what’s happening now, you know, with young kids. You have to warn your sons and grandsons, and you know, listen, you have to be careful, and even now they are taught to be afraid of the police, you know. Very respectful and obey, but even with that, things are happening to them that should not be happening to them. They should not be being beaten and of course, they should not be killed, you know. [comments about external surroundings]

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE [JARRETT?]: Are y’all still recording?

T-KAY: Do you want to share anything else, Trella?

TRELLA: Not right this minute, I’m just kind of, you know, let me collect my thoughts.
~ Gardner, Trella, “Gardner, Trella Oral History Interview,” A People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, accessed February 25, 2024,
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