Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson’s arrests at the Philadelphia Starbucks and the story I just read about the Black woman who was choked, stripped and arrested by Alabama police officers — more on that in a moment — reminds me of a late-night encounter I saw in a downtown New York City diner from the sidewalk, where a Latino man stood in the middle of the dining room screaming his lungs out.
I’m talking about veins popping, eyes bulging, blood pressure likely tripling — the whole act. He never harmed anyone; just did a lot of random yelling.
The police never arrived because they were never called, even though the few people who witnessed the dude’s meltdown knew he needed some form of evaluation and help.
My takeaway is that no one called 911 because they didn’t want to see him killed.
And this is how many people view interactions between people of color and police officers. They always seem like reading books with missing chapters.
The stories either go from a routine beginning to a quick and outrageously deadly conclusion, or from an odd opener to a a fast and spectacularly sad epilogue.
And sometimes the stories have routine, odd and spectacular elements mixed together, but the takeaway is always one where the drama meter goes from 1 to 11 in almost no time at all.
How does a Black man, (allegedly) selling loose cigarettes, end up choked out by a cop and then dead?
How does a routine traffic stop turn into an argument about whether or not a driver or color can smoke in her car, and then transition to the scene where her cold, dead body hangs from a jail cell?
How does a Black man holding a BB gun in a place that sells BB guns end with the scene where he’s shot dead by police officers?
How does a street football game end with one of the Latino players killed?
How can a scene that features two Black men do what everyone in a Starbucks coffee shop does — sit down, socialize and probably not buy anything — get arrested in the next scene?
How does a “suspicious vehicle tip” involving an unarmed African-American driver and passengers end with the driver dead and the car catching nearly three dozen bullets?
How does a scene involving an erratic-driving, 86-year old Black man with dementia leap to the chapter where he’s tazed, causing him to hit his on the hard street? He’s now dead too.
Like Chekesia Clemons, the Black Alabamian woman who was just roughed up, strangled, stripped topless and then arrested by Saraland, Alabama police officers, I object to the idea of the Waffle House (c’mon, the Waffle House!) charging an extra fee for plastic utensils.
But how does that dispute lead to restaurant employees calling the police, who then roughs up, strangles, strips topless and then arrests Clemons?
You can watch the graphic video (with partial nudity) here — especially since Facebook keeps removing the content from their site.
The same energy cops spent wrestling Clemons to the floor could’ve been used to carry her out of the restaurant and to her car. She didn’t appear to be violent at all.
Or the cops, assuming they wanted to use common sense, could’ve dipped into their own pockets to pay Waffle House for the utensils — a move that would’ve underscored how dumb the Waffle House employees are.
There seems to be a toxicity risk when mixing people of color in the same space with police officers.
And then the pages turn too fast, leaving everyone too confused to comprehend what just happened …
song currently stuck in my head: “tonight at noon” – charles mingus