A Race Story not About Ferguson

This week there was a video posted to live leak showing a man arrested across the street from a Hot Spot gas station for not cooperating with police. I’ve been past that gas station. It’s at the border between the nice part of town and the not so nice part. If the guy goes straight, instead of being pulled over, there’s a nice homey antique shop to the left and restaurant that sells expensive food that seems to change owners frequently. Late in the video as the guy is being taken to the police station you can see the nice part of town. It’s only about a quarter mile away. Behind you are houses that Zillow says sell for about 63k. If at the 1:01 mark, you look behind the Hot Spot sign, you’ll see a car parked. There’s always some car parked there. It’s the best location to sell drugs to the richer teenagers who come in from the better part of town. You get the idea. It’s the border.

So the guy, who-happens-to-be-black, gets pulled over and he is obviously dejected. Why is he so dejected? We don’t know. Maybe he just got in an argument with his mom. Maybe he’s been pulled over dozens of times and is sick of it. He’s told to get back in the car and “He’s not being told again”. After being told again maybe a half dozen times he moves to his door and opens it to get back in. Unfortunately the deputy moves in to intimidate him I guess. The guy is starting to comply but he gets his back straight and argues back. He’s standing up for himself to be treated with respect like a normal human being. He’s got his own non-violent resistance thing going on. With the deputies hands’ on him he says, “Shoot me down copper. Shoot me down if you want to copper.” That’s right. He doesn’t feel there’s anything he can do. His fate is in another’s hands (literally). Just get it over with.

Now I know that treating people with respect is not part of the training manual. This police officer doesn’t have an eight hour class to take every six months on manners. This police officer is told by the politicians to keep crime down to a minimum. Don’t let it get into the nice part of town. That’s this officer’s job. Do whatever is legal to keep crime down. That’s what is training is about. Keep crime down.

Oh yeah. Why was he pulled over? For not wearing his seat belt. Seriously. They search his car. None of the officers find anything or at least they don’t say they find anything. From all the evidence we have, the guy is a righteous guy who is no different than anyone on the other side of the border in his lawful ways. He just didn’t put on his seat belt. Normally by the time I pass this gas station I have my seat belt on. I wouldn’t know for certain because I’ve never been pulled over there. In fact I did get one ticket for not wearing a seat belt but it was about 20 miles away and it was after I was pulled over for going 55 on a 40.

At the 10:00 minute mark starts the rant of a righteous man who has had enough. He is sick of it and lets the police officer know it in many different ways. The rant starts to hit its climax at the 13:00 minute mark. The police officer is just doing his job. He’s not personally responsible beyond deciding to become part of a system that pulls people over for not wearing their seat belts to keep crime down.

So this guy gets the heavy hand of government. He goes to jail. He’s got no hope and doesn’t feel as if his fate is in his hands. Maybe he gets a government check for something and can’t get a job without losing that check. Maybe he has too many priors he remains unforgiven and can’t get a job. Maybe he’s got a job but gets pulled over so often he pays for lawyers instead of car payments. Whatever. “Shoot me down if you want to copper.” A man with no hope.

Fortunately for this town, this guy wasn’t shot down. Several dozen teenagers didn’t take advantage of the police department’s retreat to riot and loot. Wannabe rioters didn’t come in from other cities. Race hustlers didn’t run down to get in front of the cameras. The vast majority of people who live nearby and would have watched it all on TV just like you and me didn’t get lumped in with a bunch of opportunistic thieves. But they are lumped in with this guy. The police see him without his seat belt and see an opportunity to possibly keep crime down. Police watch his neighbors and if they don’t wear their seat belts then there will be a police officer nearby to pull them over. That’s their job.

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