Thursday, May 14, 2015

THE TWO EDGED SWORD OF BIGOTRY


Me with my grandchildren Russell, Donie and Gabriel
 I will never forget the day in the Spring of 1971, while stationed at Erhac Turkey, We had just returned from the firing range and were cleaning our weapons. There was a group of us, both black and white Security Policemen, gathered in a trailer and talking about our favorite singers as we worked. One of our group was a white guy that we nicknamed "Pilgrim" because he was from Massachusetts. Someone said that their favorite singer was James Brown. Incredibly Pilgrim blurted out. ""I don't like James Brown. He's a nigger". Suddenly all of the air was sucked out of the room for a moment. All of us, black and white, turned and looked at him in a state of shock. Pilgrim continued cleaning his rifle as if he was unaware of what he had just said. Then he suddenly looked up with an aw shit look on his face as the realization of where he was at and what he had said hit home . Just then all hell broke loose as some of the blacks closest to Pilgrim tried to take a swing at him while others were trying to break up the fight.  Racial conflict was always just a wrong comment or gesture away from erupting into an argument or fight back then. We were three years removed from the assassination of Martin Luther King. Non-violence was out and black power was in. Black Airmen would greet each other with the clenched fist black power salute. I always felt like I was walking on egg shells when interacting with many black Airmen. Even the most innocuous words could be misconstrued. For example, being raised in the South it was common for me to refer to someone my age or younger, regardless of race, as boy. I was taught to respect my elders so I would never call an older black man a boy. Not until later did I realize that boy was a term of derision in the South because white people would refer to black men as boy regardless of their age. Personally I cannot ever recall  hearing anyone do that except in the movies. When I would use the word boy in a sentence many black guys, especially those from up north, would look at me and say "Did you say Lee Roy? I ain't no boy".
Four of my buddies in Turkey, Carter from Texas, 2nd guy I can't remember, Mike Cannon from California, and Rogers from Memphis


  Although I know that racism is still around America has made tremendous strides toward racial harmony since those days. Racism seems to be generational. The most racist people during my lifetime have been the World War II generation of white people but they are quickly dying out. This doesn't mean all of them were racist but many were. My generation, the {baby boomers}have had their problems with race but we were for the most part a little more liberal than the older generation. Our children and grandchildren have been even more open-minded than my generation. For example when I was of dating age I never saw an interracial couple. The first time I ever saw one was at Incirlik A.F.B. Turkey in 1970. I didn't  know it at the time but the Supreme Court had only struck down state miscegenation laws as unconstitutional three years before in the 1967 case of Loving vs. the state of Virginia. Even though I never had a problem with interracial dating and marriage the sight of seeing a black Airman with his white wife at Incirlik took a little getting used to. Now, you see interracial couples everywhere. White men and women with biracial children and white grandparents with biracial grandchildren. This to me more than anything is solid evidence of how much progress we have made. 

  Miscegenation has been such a sensitive subject in the past. I can recall talking to certain white people about the subject of race and of course I was always very willing to speak my mind. The subject of interracial dating would invariably come up and when I said that I had no problem with it the whole demeanor of the person would change. They would say something like " You mean you would let your daughter date a damn nigger". Although I have always been against bussing for practical reasons and not racist reasons I believe that many racist whites were against bussing because they were fearful that integration would lead to interracial dating. That has been the case but to me that is not a bad thing. However bussing has destroyed the neighborhood schools by encouraging white flight and increasing costs for the taxpayer in extra fuel, bus maintenance, and extra busses.

  Bigotry goes both ways. For the last five years I have worked mall security. This job has been an education for me. I would guess that I have been called a racist at least thirty times, if not more in the five years I have worked mall security. I have always prided myself as being open minded on the subject of race. Bridging the racial gap has been a personal mission for me. At least in the way that I interact with people of color. However this job has really tested me because I have been the one prejudged by so many blacks. When many black people see a white man in uniform, they automatically assume that my actions are motivated by racism. The mall has certain rules of behavior. Some of them are vague. For example one rule is that we are to maintain a family atmosphere at the mall. This rule gives us wide discretion. As mall security you have to be smart in picking your battles.

  
  If a woman comes in showing too much cleavage or is wearing her dress a little too short I am reluctant to open that can of worms by saying anything about her appearance. One day I noticed a girl of about fourteen or fifteen wearing short shorts and I could easily see her butt cheeks. I ignored her because if I had said anything I could have been accused of being a dirty old man for even saying anything. Nobody is more willing to take a stand than I am, especially when I am right, but in this case I just didn't want to go there. Unless they have totally crossed the line I usually won't do anything. A customer complaint makes my job easier however. Then I have a stronger case for acting. For example we once had a mall walker that was an older woman and she was very proud of her rather large breasts. She always wore a low cut blouse and it did not appear that she was ever wearing a bra. Little was left to the imagination. For a long time I never said anything but a male walker came to me one day complaining that she exposed too much and he resented it. This forced my hand and as tactfully as I could I let her know that others were complaining. She left the mall and I haven't seen her in a long while.
 
 One of the most common problems that we deal with is with people sagging. That is wearing your pants too low and exposing your underwear or athletic shorts. It is fair to say that most saggers are black but I see many whites that sag and some women of both races. Mall management in the past has expected us to ask the person to pull their pants up. If they are wearing athletic shorts underneath they have the option of pulling their pants up or going into the restroom to remove their pants and wearing their athletic shorts only. In a discreet way I will call them off to the side so as not to embarrass them in front of their friends. Then in a low voice I will say sir or ma'am our mall has a policy that prohibits wearing your pants that low, will you please pull them up for me. Most of the time they will cooperate but far too many times they say something smart, ignore me, or make a half hearted attempt at pulling them up. Then I am forced to threaten them with removal if they don't comply. If I get to the point of having to dial up the police then they will have to leave. They get no more chances after that. Many times if the person is black they tell me I am only making them comply because of their race.

  Another problem we have is with shirts or hats that have profanity or obscene words and pictures on them. The ratio of black to white in regards to this problem is about fifty-fifty. One problem that we have is that many of the people buying offensive clothes buy them in a particular store in the mall. They want to know why they can't wear this clothing on mall property when they bought it at the mall. I try to explain to them that there are many things that they can buy in the mall that they can't use or wear. For example you can buy panties and a bra in the mall but you can't walk through the mall in just panties and a bra. You can also buy chain saws but you get the point. This is a fight that the customer can't win. The mall is private property and private property rights will trump freedom of expression every time. The greatest power that I possess as a security officer is the power to protect mall property. If I tell someone to leave and they refuse, they are guilty of criminal trespass from that moment on and they can be arrested. I can ask a person to leave for even minor reasons. Never do I ask anyone to leave unless I feel that I am justified. If I see someone wearing offensive clothing like a shirt I approach them and tell them that they have several options. They can turn the shirt inside out. Cover it with a jacket or another shirt. Or they can leave the mall. We prefer that they stay and shop and most will cooperate. If they agree to turn it inside out or cover it I have to make sure they comply. If they tell me they are leaving the premises then I trust them to leave unless they are mouthy about it.  Then I personally escort them out.

  In December 2012, right after the Sandy Hook school shooting a man was wearing a shirt that read (Did Your Gun Kill a Kindergartner today?) Even though I found this shirt to be despicable and provocative I would never ask someone to leave for expressing an opinion, no matter what I thought of it. However if your shirt is causing a disturbance then that is a horse of a different color. I saw two women in a violent argument near the Food Court and a customer told me that the man's shirt was the source of the problem. When I confronted him he refused to comply by turning it inside out or covering it and he refused to leave mall property. I had no choice but to call the police. This man wasn't very bright because he had a criminal record and brought undue attention to himself. The incident was reported on the local television news reports and newspapers for days. He was charged with criminal trespass, lying to a police officer, and driving on a suspended license. He tried to beat it in court which was not successful and I was called to give statements to the D.A. on several occasions.  On top of that he represented himself in court reinforcing the concept that he who represents himself has a fool for a client. By the way this man was white.


  A few years ago while I was on mobile patrol I saw a black man and a woman who appeared to be Hispanic about to enter the Food Court. The man had a tee shirt on that read something like (I Hate F_ _ king Everybody). I drove up and said sir, I am sorry but I can't let you go in the mall with that shirt on. His girlfriend walked in the mall but he turned to me and asked me why. I said that obscene words on clothing was against mall policy. He said "That is f_ _king racist. This incident occurred in February or March  of 2012. Since that time if someone begins using profanity I immediately end the conversation and tell them to leave mall property but I was a little more lenient back then. Just then his girlfriend came back outside and asked him what was going on. He told her that I wouldn't let him wear the tee shirt. She looked at me and said "Your a motherf_ _king racist. This is just like Trayvon Martin. The Martin killing was much in the news. The couple turned around and stormed off to their car and left. I am still trying to figure out how I was racist trying to enforce mall rules. Of course I am not only racist according to some I am an old fogey who is prejudiced against young people because of their appearance. I once stopped a teenage white girl with an offensive shirt and she told her father over the phone that I was picking on her because of her Goth appearance.

  Another common problem that we have to deal with is shoplifting. If a person is truly racist it is because of intellectual laziness. I could easily acquiesce to believing racial and ethnic stereotypes while doing this job but I force myself to properly analyze the situation. Ninety-five percent of the time that I am called to a particular store for a walk through it is to deter a black person from either stealing. Or if they have have stolen something before I arrived, to keep them from stealing even more. Usually they will stop stealing or they will leave the store. Although I cannot do anything such as search bags or confront them my uniform is usually a deterrent. If I actually see them stealing and I know the value is over five hundred dollars, making it a felony, I can make a citizens arrest. Being unarmed I am reluctant to do that. If the manager or employee of the store thinks the customer has stolen something I give them the option of confronting the shoplifter while I stand by if needed to protect them. After a certain time of day, we have police officers available which makes our job much easier. They have arresting powers that we don't have. When I say that ninety-five percent of shoplifters are black, that depends on the type of stores they are. Certain stores have more white shoplifters. Anchor stores such as Sears, J.C.Penny's or Dillard's seem to have more of a racial cross section of shoplifters than other stores. This is what I mean by intellectual laziness. If I wanted to I could easily assume that most blacks are thieves but when I force myself to look at the broad picture I get a clearer picture and realize that no race has a monopoly on the problem.

  Black shoplifters call me racist more than anyone. Ninety-nine percent of the time a store will call security to watch people they suspect of shoplifting. The remaining one percent of the time we might notice someone acting suspicious as we are doing our rounds. Tenants will either recognize them as previous shoplifters or they consider them suspicious because they are carrying empty bags, large empty purses, and backpacks. Or they are doing things to distract store employees while their buddies steal, just to name a few things that they do to bring attention to themselves. If I think they are really shoplifters or a high potential of it after they leave a store I will usually try to follow at a safe distance. If they walk into a store I will call the manager or somehow let someone know. Shoplifters take their anger out on me or other officers because they can't steal when we are watching them. Invariably they will confront us many times and ask why we are watching them. Most of the time I tell them that as a security officer I am free to walk anywhere that I want to on mall property. One time a group of black women told me that I was only following them because they were black. In a moment of frustration and lack of professionalism on my part because I was so tired of being called a racist, I said "Yeah, your right, I am a racist". They looked stunned, as if they didn't know what to say. They just turned around and walked away.

  Another time, my supervisor and I, who happened to be black, were watching a group of black shoplifters that were well known to our tenants in the mall.There was one effeminate man and several women.  They had already hit several stores and when they walked into a particular store I went in ahead of them and cautioned the black store manager that she might want to watch the group extra close. Incredibly she told the shoplifters what I had said and advised them that they should sue me. The group then walked out of the store and confronted my boss and I as to why we were following them.  They charged me with being a racist and my boss was called a sellout and an Uncle Tom. Of course this naturally made him furious. Unbelievably they called the police on us for following them. While we were all waiting for the police to arrive one of the women collected all the bags of stolen goods and took them to a secure site while the police were there. When the police arrived of course they got a good laugh out of it and left. These thieves were so brazen that after the cops left they stole from several more stores in the mall.

  Last but not least another problem that we face are the hordes of kids that invade the mall on Friday and Saturday night. Especially on Saturday night. I have seen parents drop off kids as young as nine or ten expecting a twelve or thirteen year old to watch them. Most of the kids range in age from about thirteen to seventeen. I sometimes feel like a babysitter. Parents drop them off early and pick them up late. Most of the kids are not bad but we have caught kids with drugs on them and selling drugs. They shoplift and I personally have caught boys and girls having sex in a photo booth and a couple of times in cars in the parking lot. Usually the most common thing that we catch them doing is being disruptive and loitering. They are too noisy, or trashing the Food Court. I usually wont say anything to them about loitering as long as they sit at a table and quietly talk to their friends. If they are running around, blocking aisles, running in and out of stores, or standing in groups around mall entrances for long periods of time then we have a problem. I will generally send several home during the course of a night for repeated offenses. Over the years I have probably had more trouble with white kids than black but in recent months it seems like the kids in the mall giving the most problem have been predominately black. I don't work many Saturdays any more but occasionally when I did some older black adults seemed to resent it when I reprimanded  the black kids, as if I were only doing it because of their race.  On one particularly chaotic Saturday night I decided to clear out the Food Court and make some of these kids go home. A middle age black man and his wife were sitting over in a corner near a group of these teens that I was getting ready to throw out of the mall. In an irritated voice he told me that they were with him. I am pretty sure that he didn't know these kids from Adam. I told him that if they are with you, keep them with you. I am just a mall cop and I can only imagine what cops have to endure in this country.     

   During the racial turmoil of the 1960's I don't recall seeing many black mayors, police chiefs or presidents having press conferences or fielding questions from a bevy of reporters. During the recent Baltimore riot everyone that spoke to the press that I could tell was black. In a picture that I found I counted maybe one white person in Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blakes entourage at her press conference. Fifty percent of the Baltimore police department is white, Forty seven percent is black. Two percent is Hispanic and the remaining one percent is a combination of other races. Sixty-seven percent of Baltimore's population is black. Three of the six police officers that were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray were black. For years Baltimore has been ruled by Democrats. Someone please explain to me how the killing of Freddie Gray was racial. I cannot see a racial component in any of the recent deaths of black men from Trayvon Martin to Freddie Gray. This includes the white cop in South Carolina who unlawfully shot down the man in the back who was running away. 
News conference of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie-Rawlins Blake

Baltimore Riots



  I do not believe that systemic racism is still that big of a problem in America as it was in the 1960's. Ninety percent of black men are killed by other black men. White cops killing black men is a drop in the bucket. The real problems are being ignored. Primarily black on black crime and the destruction of the black family. Democrats are always talking about the war against women, the war against the poor, and the war against blacks. These wars only exist in the fantasy world of Democrats. The real war being waged against the police of this country is to eventually accomplish one thing and one thing only. A national police force. They are working on this as we speak. The Federal government has been guilty of extortion for years. They tell the states that we will give you money for highways, schools and other state projects if you accept our guidelines. If you refuse you won't receive the money. This is what they are starting to do with local police forces. You must implement our guidelines and training in order to receive Federal money. At some point local police forces will lose the ability to control crime and the Federal government will have a reason to nationalize law enforcement. If this happens God help us.

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