Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Right and Duty to Videotape the Police

When my husband picked out a house in a Maryland suburb, he picked a nice one. The easiest way to find the place on the map is to look for Hyattsville. Hyattsville's official city limits were less than an hour's walk from the house. Our neighborhood, however, technically had no city government. It had been given a name, and symbolic "gateposts" that displayed that name, but the name couldn't be officially registered because Maryland already had a town called Woodlawn. The neighborhood called Woodlawn was self-governing, not really part of any larger city or town.

Which may well have been why things worked. We never had a power outage or water shut-off for longer than four hours. (The one time the water was cut off was planned to coincide with Bladensburg's annual Town Festival. Who could complain?) Garbage was picked up on time. The neighbors were clean, quiet, law-abiding, and generally respectful of one another. Kids walked to and from school and played in the streets. One day I accidentally dropped two twenty-dollar bills on the sidewalk; an hour later, after the kids had come home from school, the money was still there. A police car was often seen in the neighborhood, because a police officer lived there. A police car with its lights on was quite a novelty...and oh, by the way, although the neighborhood was fully integrated, the majority ethnic group was African-American.

Nevertheless, one afternoon when we wanted to talk privately in the scenic park, a gang of teenagers kept hovering around every place my husband and I sat down to talk. We were being herded away from a scene of illegal activity. Other adults had similar experiences, and so, a week or two later, one afternoon my husband called upstairs, "Come and look out the window."

"What's going on?" All I saw was a police officer talking to some teenagers.

"You see the police? You remember Rodney King? Stay here and stand witness. If the officers are racists, the only protection those kids will have is people looking out the window."

So we watched while officers from several jurisdictions drove up to take different teenagers back to their own neighborhoods, or waited to release them into the custody of their parents. We observed that they gave the kids a good lecture and an excellent display of precision driving. One of the kids didn't have a jacket and an officer lent her jacket to the juvenile delinquent. There was absolutely no "brutality." Possibly because, all up and down our street and the cross street, people were looking out of windows.

We are a sinful species, and everybody needs to watch out for everybody else in our wicked world.

With this story, and the Rodney King story, in mind, please read Jason Howerton's report:

The honorable Michele Bachmann is sponsoring another House Bill to repeal Obamacare. Please encourage your Congressman to co-sponsor this bill. (I'm told it will be U.S. HB 135; currently the Internet's not showing the text.)