The Seven Year Old, The Police Officers, and the Edible Christmas Tree (a Tragedy) Part Two
To read Part One, visit here.
The day has gone by in a lull — I keep attempting to answer my son’s questions without collapsing in a heap: What did he do wrong? What did we do wrong? Why did the police follow me with guns? Were they going to hurt me? Were they going to hurt you? Will the police be there every time someone picks me up from school?
So many questions that I don’t have the answers to. So many heartbreaks created by one interaction fueled by the petty nonsense of few.
When my sixteen-year-old came home, I informed her of what had occurred. As her eyes got wide, she asked me what she could do to make the situation right. Looking down, I couldn’t give her one. Warren nervously walked around the house, going between the television and my cellphone. Then Akaiylyn said something that startled me:
“Police officers feel us up and search us all day and I’m not nervous. He JUST got escorted out of the school by the cops.”
Excuse me, WHAT?!?
I figured after the full-scale riot that happened at her high school over the spring that security was lackadaisical at best. Metal detectors don’t work. Children are so stressed out that they walk out of the bathrooms with nicotine pens to warrant a suspension and a mental health day. This is the life of a student in an HCS high school (at least the ones my child tells me about). And now, I’m being told that children have become desensitized to police presence, as if the expectation is for them to be there, put their hands on them, and they move on with their day. WHO DOES THAT?
This is happening in our schools and then we don’t understand why kids do not give school resource officers respect? Our children are scared shitless in first grade so that by the time they reach eleventh grade, school resource officers are an aggravation that must be tolerated versus a partner in keeping them safe. I’d love to look at things differently, but this is the picture that has been painted for me and I must see it for what it is. We’ve got a generation of children whose apathy towards law enforcement makes them feel like they don’t have anything to lose. That, in turn, creates young adults who feel the same way — apathetic and disinterested in the differentiation of good cops from bad cops.
My beautiful, Black boy has had his law enforcement cherry busted….at SEVEN. He’s had his first moment of fear of being followed by ARMED POLICE OFFICERS out of a school building for NOTHING but the ego stroking of Hampton City School officials. This has nothing to do with safety. As I type this, my baby is resting his head on my knee. I wonder the thoughts that are going through his head. I wonder if this interaction will be the root of his nightmares. I wonder if he’ll think of this when he lays down tonight. If he’ll be guarded when he goes back to school in two weeks. For these days that we have away from his elementary school, we will have those conversations to reinforce that this was never about him and EVERYTHING about the imbeciles on the school board and those in school leadership. But who is expendable? Who will get caught in the crosshairs when grown children want to play “All or Nothing”
And again, the more important issue is complacency of our next generation. There is a balance that needs to be had between being scared senseless and being completely indifferent. How do we reach that? The expectation is not that police officers befriend the people that they are charged to protect and serve — the expectation, however, is that both populations operate in a spirit of respect. Is that something translating across each generational group? Do our children feel respected enough so that when they become young adults, they have a healthy perception of law enforcement and are willing and able to allow LEOs to seamlessly integrate in their growing communities? To achieve that outcome, what needs to happen on BOTH SIDES? Should the jobs of LEOs be respected so that their usage isn’t to fuel some ego-based power trip? Should the reward always outweigh the risk when planting these seeds? There are so many questions that need to be answered and this “last walk” processional has affected my son, I’m opening my ears and my heart to come up with a real solution that won’t do more harm than good.
Today has been so much. My poor, poor baby. My poor, poor babies. Another day where Hampton City Schools has overplayed their hand. I see your arrogance and I raise you your motto.