Tenstions De-escalated

Written by BG Howard

May 15, 2024

An intentional effort had been made a few years back to shy away from a number of news-worthy incidents involving increasingly heightened racial tensions in various areas throughout the country.  There was a radio report in 2018 of an occurrence at a large restaurant chain that prompted the daughter of slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to call for all African-Americans to boycott that restaurant.

According to then “Com Plex” staff writer, Joseph Espinoza, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King called for a boycott of the eatery following a series of disturbing incidents involving law enforcement and the chain’s Black patrons.  Dr. Bernice King utilized her social media platform to compel followers to avoid the restaurant chain “until its executives properly addressed the tinged controversies.”  Reportedly, the fourth incident concerning the franchise in less than two weeks, she petitioned for African-Americans to distance themselves from the chain until the powers that be agreed to specified terms.  Those were to be inclusive of discussing racial concerns, more targeted training as well as a commitment to implementing/actively changing the narrative regarding race relations.

Other incidents of purported racially charged acts included the April 12, 2018 arrests of two Black men, Mr. Dante Robinson and Mr. Rashaun Nelson, in Philadelphia, PA. when they refused to either make a purchase or leave another restaurant.  Ms. Errin Haines Whack of the Associated Press reported the two gentlemen settled with the city on May 2nd for the amount of $1 each and a promise from city officials to establish a $200,000.00 program for young entrepreneurs which would be designed to benefit high school students.

Also, there was an issue in Saraland, AL at a national restaurant chain when, as reported by Natelege Whaley of AL.com, a 25 year-old Black woman, Ms. Chikesia Clemons, was wrestled to the ground by three Caucasian police officers and subsequently arrested.  The incident on April 23, 2018 resulted when a Waffle House associate levied a charge of fifty cents for plastic utensils.  Ms. Clemons noted that she’d never been charged for utensils before and simply requested the number to speak with someone at the corporate office.  During the time she waited for an employee to honor her request, police arrived and everything pretty much went down hill from that point.

Granted, the issue of racial profiling, abuse and discrimination wasn’t anything new as it has been happening since before the days of slavery.  What’s hard to understand is why no one had learned that it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to poke a grizzly with a toothpick?  It wasn’t a point of assigning blame to victims of these unfortunate incidents and hundreds of others that hadn’t come to light but one has to pose the question:  What are the precipitating events that result with police wrestling a woman to the floor of a restaurant, using excessive force against a suspect, or shooting an unarmed man? 

In other words, what is it that leads to the adverse and sometimes overly aggressive behaviors of police?  Tensions were so high throughout the country at that point, why would anyone (of any race) do anything to seemingly provoke police when it was understood that the law was not only on their side but the uniform, at least on the streets, represented the very essence of that law?

There was a time when people, especially Blacks, understood the first line of defense to be that of respect; even when you’re disrespected, obedience and (if necessary) submission.  Whether it woud be just temporary or on the surface, the main concern should be to accurately document the circumstances and obtain witnesses if possible.  Most beneficial would be for individuals to first determine what they can do to best avoid any controversy; ask what can be done to avoid the escalation of circumstances which too easily get out of hand.  If things are the way they’ve always been, how would doing things the way they have always been done bring about change?  Simply put; what you’re looking at won’t change until you change the way you look at it.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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