Daily Archives: February 24, 2012
There’s been a spike in robberies across the DC area but the ones catching the most attention occurred in my neighborhood. I live in Ward 3 which is one of the more affluent parts of the city. There’s a house two blocks from me that’s going for $5 million. I’m not bragging. The neighborhood is rich, I’m not. Think of it as a foreign exchange program: For every well-to-do White person who acts as a scout for gentrification in a shitty neighborhood in Southeast, there’s a poor Black guy like myself who takes his place in Chevy Chase.
Anyway, the rich folk don’t take kindly to people coming over here and stealing their stuff so they “asked” the police chief to hold a meeting to explain what they’re doing to rectify the problem. I went for two reasons. One, I’m a concerned resident. Two, I’m Black. That last one will make sense later.
For about an hour four different cops took turns saying the exact same thing four different ways: “We’re doing the best we can. Don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car. Look around when you’re walking at night and don’t stare into your smartphone.” What they wanted to say (but couldn’t for obvious reasons) is that robberies are the chief issue in this part of the city. The rest of the city on the other hand is dealing with shootings, homicides and rapes in addition to robberies. The only reason they’re even having the meeting is because the tax dollars coming out of this side of town buys their attention. But back to why I went to the meeting.
There was a Q&A session and the answers to all of the questions were a variation of, “If you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood or someone who looks out of place, if there is any suspicious activity at all, call 911. We’ve made calls about suspicious persons priority one and will send a unit to the area right away.” That’s why I went. I wanted to get up to raise my point but a lady beat me to it. “As one of the few African Americans in the area, I’m concerned for my sons and other black males who live in this neighborhood. I’m not worried about them being robbed, but rather them being labeled as ‘suspicious’ or ‘out of place.’”
I always said that if I ever made enough money to buy one of these million dollar homes then the first thing I’d do is donate a huge chunk of money to the policeman’s ball and staple a picture of my family to the check. I went to the meeting so that all of the “concerned” residents would see my face and hopefully remember it so that the next time I walk down the street to go to the store they won’t run to call 911. Ever since the robberies ramped up I’ve found myself followed by the cops, people cross the street or clutch their little keyring of mace.
To their defense, the cops and the councilwoman hosting the meeting reiterated that being Black doesn’t justify a call to 911 and a few people clapped but the rest just looked annoyed. I can’t really blame them. After all, they began the meeting by saying that all of the suspects involved were Black males.
That was their ONLY description of the suspects. No height, build, weight, hairstyle or clothing. Just Black.