“What had I done wrong that day?”

 

My deepest and heartfelt sympathy and condolences is offered to the surviving members of George Floyd’s family and their loss.  

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In these troubling times you really don’t have to be a person of color to appreciate the fact that beneath the surface of “reality” there exists a layer of systemic racism that exists in all societies.

From time to time people who have been issued a badge and a gun and are commissioned to protect the public good let that authority and responsibility affect their good judgement. They become the “good guys” and the rest of us “the enemy” worthy of unreasonable scrutiny, detainment and interrogation.

A few years ago I wanted to take some photographs of an impressively decorated section of a mall in Canada. The name of the area was “Europa Avenue” and I arrived there a little after 10 a.m. the opening time for the mall. My camera was dangling around my neck and a notebook gripped in my hand to jot down my ideas.

I innocently made my way to this part of the mall and began to prepare my photo taking session with colorful pictures  of the facades of the surrounding bistros when I noticed a group of seven policemen ( six male and one female) approaching me as I sat on a bench located outside one of the bistros.

They approached me rapidly and I noticed at the last minute they regrouped in front of me so that they had me in effect cornered. I did not know what was happening and did not realize at the time I was the subject of their concern. They stationed themselves about ten feet away from me.

The female officer approached me.  I stood up and said “good morning ” to her. She nodded her head and then asked me what was I doing in the area at this time of the day. I explained that I was writing a blog article about the mall’s European flair and had intended to snap some photos.

She did not explain why I was being interrogated and as I looked into the eyes of the other officers assembled there I reasoned that something had happened and that I was a suspect in something worth of police investigation.

I explained why I was there and told her I was a blogger and as I reached into my jacket pocket for a business card to hand to her fellow officers right hands hovered over their holstered weapons.

I tried to break the tension by telling a few jokes to deescalate the tension. I gazed into the officers eyes showing no sign of fear even though inwardly I was a tad nervous.

As she took my card I told her to “check out the website. I am sure you will enjoy it.”

Happily this interrogation lasted about fifteen minutes. As they left me standing there I wished them all a good day. Phew. Happily the bench I was sitting in was against the wall so that they could not really surround me and force me to the ground.

They did not offer me a reason for this intrusion on my privacy but just walked away leaving me in good health and confusion. I later learned that the past weekend a terrorist group had targeted a number of malls in Canada for some type of nefarious activity.

I just happened to be an unlucky schmuck who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I do not look Middle Eastern, was a man over 65 years of age and had no evil intent to do anything dastardly that day.

I guess I was traumatized by the event. When I visit the mall now my camera stays home, my actions in the mall  are slow and deliberate and I try to be just another schmo eager to spend my hard earned cash in such a magnificent venue as this one.

I should mention there was no one else with me in the area at that time. It was me and the seven police officers. I do not know what would have happened if the encounter had gone south and I had been arrested for being there.

I realize that the times today are tough and that the COVID 19 virus has played a major role in societal unrest. But  that is no excuse for treating your fellow man like an inconsequential commodity.

May freedom and justice prevail for all.

 

 

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