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ON BEING A BLACK MAN SHELTERED IN 
GIVEN AN ACTIVE SHOOTER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

 

 

3:45 P.M. Dear Jack Daniel,  The suspect in the Stoney Beach Community (my immediate neighborhood) has been arrested.  You can still expect to see a heavy police presence in the area in which this arrest occurred; however, residents are now able to enter and exit the community with no issues. Thank you for your patience, and we are very happy this has come to an end. (I don’t believe “all” residents can enter and exit with “no issues” and so, being Black and male, I am not leaving my home until tomorrow, at best.)

It has essentially been most of the day since my wife came upstairs this morning, awakened me, and said, “There is an active shooter in our neighborhood! We have to shelter in place!”  We went downstairs; turned on the television; went to a radio APP; and plugged in our cell phones.  The “we interrupt this broadcast” came across the radio APP and we learned that, in addition to two police officers being shot, the shooter had escaped into our immediate neighborhood.

Next came an emergency “866” telephone call advising us to shelter in place, to immediately call police if we saw anything suspicious.  Then I received an email message which included a notation about police going door-to-door.  Given the past and present history of police and Blacks, a big rush of very scary scenarios raced though my mind.

If those investigating believed the shooter to be Black, what could happen if the police came to my door?  How many of the stated 50 searching police officers were White?  If the officers knocked on my door, what might jump off if I opened the door and the first thing, they saw was a Black man?  Although the knock did not come, something just as fearful happened.

We looked outside our living room window and approximately six police officers were near my car.  Two officers had semiautomatic weapons, fingers on their triggers.  Several looked through the windows of my car and walked around it several times.  I wondered what might happen if they ran my license plate number; got my address; and proceeded to my home just a few feet away.  Suddenly, one with a semiautomatic walked away and proceeded to a neighbor’s home and searched their porch area  --all the while with guns poised to be used if needed.  I was relieved when all of them left from my sight but was internally conflicted by the shooter being loose, the fact that they had stopped residents from returning home, and what might happen if police were needed at my home.

Several times during the day, I wondered if we would have been better off to have purchased a licensed gun for our home.  The history of American racism led me to conclude, “No.”  My reality was that a White active shooter could come to my door; I could fire and kill the person; but I would not be protected by “stand your ground legislation,” much less be hailed a hero.  My reality was that a police officer might enter my home; see my gun; immediately start shooting me and my wife; and not be found guilty of anything because the officer feared for their safety. 

My reality was a telephone call with my brother and texting as much as I could to my children, daughter-in-law, and son-in-law in case “something happened” and folks were now sending “thoughts and prayers” about us.  My reality was that we were up the proverbial “S” creek without a paddle and the rapidly rising water was taking us out to a raging river.  Naively, I got my recently purchased, extra sharp, fishing filet knife as a potential modicum of self-defense. 

This was my first and hopefully last time to be in the immediate vicinity of an active shooter.  However, even with a suspect caught, I remain painfully bothered by things such as the fact that I had to adopt the so-called “ghetto protocol” of “getting away from windows and sitting or lying down” all day.  Worst of all for me was the fact that I feared what the police might do to me and my wife as much as what the shooter might do to me and my wife because all lives don’t matter and I say this with the very highest respect for immediate first responders, especially the two who were shot today near my home.

 

Jack L. Daniel

Co-founder, Freed Panther Society

Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media

Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black

 

February 6, 2020

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