Oh to be 15 again…

Another video has surfaced highlighting the tensions in this nation between our Black citizens and law enforcement agencies.

For many, myself included, this video clearly shows an officer using excessive force to detain a child. I would say that is a statement of fact, not an interpretation of the film. But being post-modern and all, I know there is no pure-fact…

Others, particularly residence of the community, ask for us to not take that seven minute video out of context, and realize the broader narrative of a party out of control, and an officer (one of twelve) trying to regain control of the situation. To be blunt, I think that is a distraction. Nobody outside of that community cares one crap about the home owner’s association’s rules for their private pool. We can let them deal with the fallout of what new policies they need to put in place to regulate who can and can’t be there. I don’t care.

I do care about the young boys and girls, especially the young girl dragged to the ground and sat on by a grown man. What makes it worse that that this wasn’t any grown man. It was an officer of the law sworn to serve and protect his community.

And while I can’t pretend to related to that child’s situation, I do remember somethings about being 15.

I remember the excitement of being invited to a pool party. I remember the fun of jumping into the refreshing, highly chlorinated water. I don’t remember anything about the rules and regulations of the HOA about how many people could come to those parties. I never asked. I was 15. Why on earth would I even think to ask if it was against the rules for me to go to a party I was invited to? And if one of the neighbors had given me crap about being there, I don’t know how I would I have reacted.

I remember the embarrassment and shame of being yelled at by an adult. Even being called out in a group of my peers for being to chatty at youth group would put my social interaction gears into overdrive as my little brain tried to figure out how to respond. Fortunately I was never scolded by someone with a badge and a gun.

I remember the total paralyzing frustration of being given contradictory instructions. I knew I could be reprimanded either way, since whatever I did I would be “non-compliant”. If you watch the McKinney video again, pay attention to the contradictory commands from the officers. “Don’t take off…” (0:45), “Get on the ground…” (0:51), “Get your a$$es out of here…” (1:08), “I told you to stay right here…” (2:11), “Right now you’re staying…” (2:16), “Get out of here…” (2:27), “Get your a$$ gone…” (2:45), “Get your a$$ on the ground… (3:20). These were just a few of the profanity laden command spouted off during the video. And while they were not all directed at the same person or group of people, I know as a teen I would not have been sure what I was supposed to do if I was there. I would have just been frustrated. (I still get frustrated when my boss will yell “get these deliveries on the road” and “get that phone” within the span of ten seconds). I may have said the same thing I said to my boss (illadvisedly), “The more you yell the less I hear.”

I remember the consuming outrage I experienced whenever I learned one of my female friends had been assaulted. I remember promising myself that I would lay my life on the line if I ever saw a woman getting attacked by a man. And I can only image how emasculating it must have felt for all the young men there to sit helplessly while they witnessed a violent assault on a young girl. God gave them the instinct to jump in and defend her. And when they even had the thought of trying to help, they were threatened with lethal force.

I’ve never been black. But I have seen enough videos of police to know that there are officers who believe black+waistband=threat. That young girl was black, and had on little more than a waistband, and even as Casebolt sat on her back, she was told to stop fighting (4:45). She wasn’t fighting. She was helpless. And in the eyes of many, had she lifted so much as a finger to defend herself, lethal force could have been excused by the courts. She doesn’t live in a bubble. She knows what can happen if you try to defend yourself. She will never forget the terror she experienced that day. And no. She didn’t learn any kind of lesson from that show of force. She just learned that no matter what, you run from the police. Despite what the actually coherent officer tried to instruct at the 0:40 mark.

So, you can say all you want about how the party got out of control. And if you live in that neighborhood, go to the HOA meeting and figure out how you want your pool run. But stop telling us that if we had been there, and seen everything, we would be okay with police cussing out kids, aiming loaded weapons at them, and throwing children to the ground. I don’t want to be okay with that. Ever.

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