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One Neighbor Got It Right.

riot finger

Boomers used to call the police names, mean names.

The police responded with restraint? Understanding? Night sticks?

Antagonize the authorities and take what comes next. Don’t count on good humor.

One neighbor explained how he talked to police.

Since he had a criminal record he knew to defuse situations before they caught fire.

One Fourth of July the neighborhood set up fireworks, Indian reservation fireworks from Oklahoma.

Bottle rockets looked like a stick of dynamite lashed to a 2 x 2 pole.

People a few blocks away called the police when the rockets landed on their roof.

My neighbor was the point man in legal negotiations when the police showed up. He was outstanding in his role.

Today is not the day to fight the police. Too many confuse the threat against peace as a threat against their lives.

Outside events sometimes paint a clear picture of what to expect when the police show up, and how to come away alive. This happened a few blocks away from my house.

A local kid living at home showed up late. His folks were nervous about his behavior.

What was wrong? Who knows what goes on in families, but the kid wanted the keys to a vehicle and they weren’t about to hand them over.

The kid got upset, then more upset, until the parents called the police telling them he’s suicidal, breaking car windows, and has a knife.

City and county cops showed up.

Instead of strictly bean bag rounds, they shot live rounds.

From “Police to dispatcher: We might need to get medical here, he’s probably had a couple shots to the back. We need medical code three, he took actual rounds. We’ve got shallow breathing, very shallow, slow breathing. Okay, he’s not breathing anymore.

The young man died in his driveway with his parents watching. My kids played on the same school teams as him.

It was a teaching moment. Here’s what I told my kids:

“If you ever find yourself facing the police, do what they ask. Just like you have some friends you trust more than others, some policemen have better training than others.

You don’t know who will show up. If they say get on the ground, get on the ground.”

Then the important part.

“If I’m present and you start arguing with the police and they have weapons drawn, you’re going to get me shot.

I’m just a dad like the others around here, but if you think you need to stand up to the police, I’m standing between you and them.

If they order me into the house, I’m still standing there. If they order me on the ground, I’m still standing there. You want the police to shoot you down, they’ll shoot me first.

Now boys, do you want to see your old man gunned down in front of you? Do you? Because I won’t see you gunned down in front of me. I just won’t. No one gets Dad of the Year if their kid gets shot by police.

Whatever shape you’re in, listen to the policeman. Get it? Listen to the policeman. Better yet, don’t screw around and get the cops on you. That’s the best idea.

So let’s agree. We stand together. That’s the goal. If we’ve got a problem let’s talk it out, shout it out, scream it out, then hug it out. That’s all I’m asking for.

If you want to see your dad take rounds in the back, you know what to do, because I don’t want to see you get shot and I’m telling you what I’ll do.”

What would you do?



About David Gillaspie
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