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04-Jun-2019 11:49

Like most, I have spent many snack-filled nights watching crime-based TV dramas, pretending I wasn’t scared while I switched on all of the house lights. In my adult life I have never seen an actual handgun that wasn’t holstered to the belt of a police officer.

So when I found myself alone at the local art park watching a pre-teen pass me by, boasting to his friends that he had a gun and was about to use it to shoot someone, I was quite literally unprepared for what came next.

As a young 20-something, after being pulled over because of my lapsed registration, I inched my car up just a bit to make sure I’d left the officer space to park behind me — and he responded with a commanding yell and a hand on his holster, threatening me to stop my vehicle or else.

I have my own ignorant optimism to blame for not sooner equating the threat of racist cops to the theft of black lives.

I was very aware of how not bulletproof I am and of how intensely my family needed me to make it back home. If there was ever a time to dial 911, this was it, right?

I was also aware that this man and his daughter probably had a family member like me awaiting their safe return. Yet, each time I reached for my phone, I faced the same overwhelming thoughts.

y family patriarch was keen to wave around a pistol whenever someone threatened his inner-city neighborhood corner store.

I have a clear memory of running inside and dropping to the floor of my aunt’s Baltimore rowhouse during a suspected drive by.

Seconds dragged like hours as I tried to decipher between the back and forth of typical youthful aggression and the very real potential for danger. The grainy surveillance footage of 12-year-old Tamir being shot almost on sight, because he had a toy gun, played over and over in my mind.

Nearly two months later, I continue to question if the kids would be safe or if this was just one chapter in a novel of potentially negative life-altering choices. I know that none of those boys and girls were turned into an R. In recent years, the biggest disparity in arrests of white versus black juveniles in the city where I live, Charlottesville, Virginia, occurred in 2011.

Although the small city is overwhelmingly white, records indicate 71 percent of teens arrested were black.

How could I possibly guarantee compassion from the cops, or even a basic confirmation of wrongdoing before the discharging of weapons?

The second thought that slowed my instinct to act was that of my two sons.

Seconds dragged like hours as I tried to decipher between the back and forth of typical youthful aggression and the very real potential for danger. The grainy surveillance footage of 12-year-old Tamir being shot almost on sight, because he had a toy gun, played over and over in my mind.

Nearly two months later, I continue to question if the kids would be safe or if this was just one chapter in a novel of potentially negative life-altering choices. I know that none of those boys and girls were turned into an R. In recent years, the biggest disparity in arrests of white versus black juveniles in the city where I live, Charlottesville, Virginia, occurred in 2011.

Although the small city is overwhelmingly white, records indicate 71 percent of teens arrested were black.

How could I possibly guarantee compassion from the cops, or even a basic confirmation of wrongdoing before the discharging of weapons?

The second thought that slowed my instinct to act was that of my two sons.

As the boy and his friends walked past, I wanted to assume his claims were false — that there was no gun.