Sent to me recently by a friend of mine who is a member of local law enforcement...
As we took a seat at the rear of the second level, a white male in his 20’s sauntered in front of us. It wasn’t so much his disheveled appearance or his fidgety mannerisms which really peaked my interest, rather it was the backpack that he had firmly affixed to the front of his body - and clutching - that kicked up my cop senses.
Luckily, as an off duty law enforcement officer, I always sit in the back of any congregation with my Glock on my ankle... just in case). I spent the rest of the services laser focused on him, as he stood in the corner, waiting for him to produce a gun and attack the flock.
Nothing happened. Thankfully.
Flash forward to last week. I’m heading into work at 7 a.m. It was still dark as I walked towards my vehicle parked in front of my house. Suddenly, from behind me, came the padded sound of running footsteps. A glance to my left revealed a white teenager - who I didn’t recognize- wearing a black hoodie and black backpack, running full speed down the sidewalk. Initially suspecting that he might be a young burglar who had been caught in the act, I watched him until he arrived at the school bus stop three blocks down, where he stopped and plopped down to wait for the bus.
Another false alarm, but I was glad I was observant.
I contemplated these two events later that day and found myself wondering if my typical minority fellow citizen would think it possible that a Caucasian gentleman, like me, could possibly have initial suspicions about anybody other than minorities in cases such as those. It seems lately the news media is rampant with *caught on tape* moments focused on cyber shaming white citizens who have the audacity to call the police on (typically black) citizens whom they have deemed suspicious for one reason or another. People are actually losing their jobs over these events.
Of course, the same media rarely reports how most actual crimes are solved by normal citizens “seeing something and saying something”, but I digress....
Now I’m not so naïve to believe that racism - be it blatant or inadvertent - does not exist in this day and age, but I don’t let it bug me because I know I’m not racist. The irony was not lost on me that the two folks who piqued my Interest were both white.
Flash forward again to this morning.
My wife arrived home after taking our middle school age daughter to school.
She shared with me that on the way there they saw a teenaged black female with a backpack walking along a lonely dark stretch of road that leads to a state highway that kids don’t, and should walk, on their way to the middle shook which is about a 2 mile walk on roads with no sidewalk.
My wife told me that my daughter did not recognize her as a fellow student attending the middle school.
Concerned about the possibility of the young girl being lost, or maybe a runaway, or maybe routinely taking a long walk to school on a dangerous road; I contacted a law enforcement officer that I know who patrols that area.
It was pretty apparent to me that this law-enforcement officer was also sensitive to the recent political environment revolving around calls, such as mine, on black individuals seemingly doing nothing illegal but acting in a concerning, odd way.
The law enforcement officer even called me back to try to get more information in order to justify why he should be looking for - and make contact with -this black female walking alone, and again seemingly not breaking any laws.
He told me he would check anyways.
He called me back within 10 minutes to update me that the young black female had missed the bus to the high school, which was 4 miles away, and that he had given her a ride so she was not late.
I’m glad that I called. Poor kid.
That said, with just a few variations to that fact pattern - and a running cell phone video camera and an activist nearby - this situation could’ve easily evolved into the next high profile *caught on tape* racial controversy and I would have been skewered over the public spit fueled by the angry mob.
The headline would likely be:
“White off duty officer calls police on black teen simply walking to school”
I would gladly take that headline over the alternative:
“Black teen walking 4 miles to school after missing bus, struck and killed by car. No white folks seemed to care.”
Sad that’s where we are right now as a society.