Saturday, July 25, 2009

Skip | Boston News-Letter . 1

Everybody and your mamma, as Skip reportedly put it, has an opinion about the Henry Louis Gates incident. From the get go, then the president, to his later regret, on down, everyone's been mouthing off in the heat of the moment. Let me wade in the water with my 2 cents.

Basic training. You - black or white - do not cuss out a cop. Skip, freshly back in the PRC from China where no doubt anything goes, forgot his basic training. I had a very similar thing happen to an employee of mine and the outcome was totally different. Why? He kept his cool. And in a possibly far more dangerous situation.

Josiah, an African-Bahamian, was doing a job for me in tony, all-white Beacon Hill. He was standing on a fire escape using a caulking gun to weatherproof a window. Similar to the Gates case, a white neighbor evidently looked out her window and called the cops saying that there was a black man with a gun breaking into the house across the street.

The cops came screaming in from both ends of Brimmer Street, jumped out with guns drawn and yelled, "Put the gun down motherfucker!" Jo put down the caulking gun, then respectfully talked to the cops, explained what he was up to, showed some ID, they all had a laugh and the incident was over. End of story. He used his basic training.

Now there's a lot that's screwed up around this country and plenty to get mad at, especially the exploding prison-industrial complex and black incarceration, but in general I would say it's not the Cambridge or Boston police. They usually aren't the most pleasant people, but look at what they have to deal with and the danger they face day in and day out on these city streets. So remember - or quickly learn - your basic training. Always talk calmly and politely to the police. They're just doing their jobs, usually the best that they know how and want to live another day to go home to their kids ... just like you.

Image ... Obama lost his cool too. Alex Brandon/Associated Press.

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