There are two lessons to be learned from the latest Waffle House incident in which a “police” officer was videotaped using Gestapo-type tactics against an unarmed Black teenager:
First, racist police officers continue to advertise their presence in cities big and small, north and south, across the country. They are apparently emboldened by a judicial system that exonerates them in all but a few high profile cases, and the general public’s perception that the boys in blue are always justified in their overly aggressive treatment of Black men.
Even in an era when almost every citizen is armed with the technology to record wrong doing, rogue cops seem oblivious to public scrutiny, contributing to African Americans’ resentment, distrust and fear of those sworn to protect and serve us.
The latest Waffle House incident was a prime example. Occurring just a few weeks after an avowed racist killed four Black diners (before being stopped by a brave Black customer) and two weeks after police used excessive force to restrain a Black woman—exposing her breasts in the process—last week’s incident was preceded by an argument between a tuxedo clad teenager and a store employee.
Apparently embellished by a growing tsunami of racism across the country, the employee quickly called police.
A burly “officer of the law” responded and within moments relied on despicable and ruthless tactics to subdue the non-threatening Black teen who had just escorted his young sister to a high school prom. Recorded by a passerby whose cries for restraint went unanswered, the officer choked the teenager before throwing him to the ground.
The second lesson is to parents: If you haven’t already, tell you sons not to engage police under any circumstance. Instruct them to be polite, not to argue, roll their eyes, or reach for anything real or imagined. Do not give the police any reason to become aggressive.
If you have a complaint, keep it to yourself until you are safe.
If stopped in a vehicle, put your hands on the steering wheel, turn on your interior lights and clearly announce any movement. Also, turn your cell phone on record or video and place it on the dashboard—before the officers approaches your car.
Your son or daughter may very well have right on their side. But if nothing else, American history has taught us that being legally or morally right does not always translate to immediate victory. Sometimes you have to put your emotions (and your pride) on the back burner until you’re safely away from the fire.