I continued to be haunted by the episode of Monday morning — very fearful of encountering that person again. But tonight, I heard a story on NPR news which rather put things in perspective.
The story concerned Fay Wells, the black female executive who ended up facing nineteen Santa Monica police officers (some with guns drawn) after being locked out of her apartment one night. A white neighbor called the police to report a burglary. (You can read the whole story here.)
I have to stay I’m somewhat staggered at the size of the police response. My late father was a cop for thirty years — and routinely investigated reported burglaries — often alone — and always unarmed — because this was in England over twenty years ago. Yes, I know Santa Monica in 2015 hardly compares to an English city in 1978 — but I fail to see the need for nineteen police officers to attend something as “routine” as a burglary. I often hear of staffing shortages with police departments, including here in Seattle. If police capacity is indeed spread so thin, surely such a big response to a single incident leaves many neighborhoods unprotected.
A few years ago, I witnessed a rather ludicrous scene in West Seattle. The suspect was a white man — and I mention this because I can’t image what the response would have been for a black suspect!! This white man had been drinking in a neighborhood bar and was asked to leave. Somewhat belligerent, he proceeded to harass people on the street — including using the n-word to insult the black Real Change vendor on the corner — and finally kicking someone’s small dog — at which the Real Change vendor punched the guy. A few police officers arrived, tazered the suspect and stuffed him under a patrol car. This is where I arrived on the scene (I’ve filled in the details from what the Real Change vendor told me the next day!)
So the suspect has been apprehended and is now restrained. At this point, my dad would be ready to wrap things up — radio for a car to drive the suspect downtown and book him — and then take statements from witnesses. But the neighborhood was loud with sirens as more and more patrol cars converged on the scene — and more and more officers gathered — to do what? It really looked to me as though the scene was well under control. (To their credit though, the police didn’t charge the Real Change vendor with anything, despite the punch.)
So, enough of my rather amusing story – and back to Fay Wells. She no longer feels safe in her apartment or her neighborhood — and she fears the police in a way she never did before. By comparison, I am merely fearful of a repeat encounter with someone who is hopefully a random stranger. And I feel safe and happy at home in my apartment.
I’ve been enjoying Drabblecast. The strange and wonderful stories I’ve heard have almost restored me to normalcy. I’m going to post this — and then Mark and I will enjoy some wine.