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North Charleston Police
Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?

Where Did We Go Wrong?
2/21/2017 3:31:45 PM

By Barney Blakeney 

The February 16 school bus incident that resulted in the arrest of several North Charleston High School students is messed up on so many levels it’s hard to figure where to start. Some disruptive kids led the bus driver to stop it and call police. When the cops arrived, they forcibly took the students into custody. Well as might be expected, some of the kids’ parents got on television yelling about how the cops abused their kids, some civil rights organizations supported them and others supported the cops’ actions. Now there appears to be disunity in the black community. I talked with one guy who asked, “Where did we go wrong to produce what happened?”
With today’s technology, recordings of events are only the press on a cell phone button away; so much of what took place was captured on video. School buses are equipped with recorders also and the cops provided their version through police reports. All of that evidence shows a very bad situation that could have been worse. We’re lucky we didn’t end up with some dead kids!

I first heard about the incident on the television news. Of course the media was pumpin’ it up, but they didn’t have to. The video showed cops and kids tussling on the bus, and once outside, subduing kids on the ground. Predictably, the next news footage was of one of the mothers saying cops had used excessive and abusive force to subdue her kid. Sadly, I knew where this was going – another mother defending her bad behind kid.

Fortunately this one wasn’t making her defense through tears mourning the kid’s death.

I got the police report the next day. What I read made me angry. The cops were called by the bus driver who said some of the kids were being so disruptive she had to stop the bus. Before we even get to the thing about the cops being abusive to the perpetrators of that behavior, I was thinking those bad behind disruptive kids could have caused the driver to lose control of the bus resulting in an accident leading to innocent children being hurt. Did that defensive mother consider the danger in which her child placed other children?

Okay, so now the cops arrive. Do these bad kids chill out and do as the cops ask? No, they meet that authority with resistance and disrespect. The video undeniably shows the situation going downhill fast. There’s pandemonium on the bus as two officers struggle to control the students. In the melee, one student rips an officer’s body camera from his uniform.

Hey ya’ll, that kid just as easily could have grabbed at the cop’s gun. Had that happened or had the cops reacted differently when the unidentified kid grabbed the camera, we today could be preparing for the funeral of some little Dasia who was sitting at the front of the bus uninvolved in any of that madness. I wonder if that defensive mother considered any of that.

The next thing I know, my young brothers and sisters of Black Lives Matter Charleston are criticizing the police action. I get it. The cops have been an untrustworthy control mechanism used to force the submission of black people since in 1619 when our ancestors were brought to this country in chains. It was Mississippi cops who in 1964 murdered civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Scherner.

And it was a North Charleston cop who in 2015 killed Walter Scott. But every police action isn’t solely an act of subjugation. Sometimes, relatively few times when they are called to interact with black folks, cops’ actually act to protect and serve.

This comment ended up in my hands after the incident: “So this bus incident occurred in a community where the police harass and pester people on a regular basis. The police aren't respected in my neighborhood. This shows in the way these kids responded and it isn't necessarily their fault. Some of the blame lies on the shoulders of the North Charleston Police Department.” Okay, I get that too! But much of the blame also lies with the black community.

The sister whose comments I quoted also asked some questions. Here are a few: “How can we handle these situations differently? What would have happened if the police asked the kids to stop fighting and get to school? What would have happened if an officer rode the rest of the way to the school on the bus? What would have happened if the officer would have sat down with the student to have a conversation? What would have happened if the officer asked the rest of the kids to leave the bus so that he could have a calm, private conversation with the student? What would have happened if the parents were called and asked to come meet their children at the bus?”

Those are some good questions, but I ask what would have happened if those kids had been taught good behavior? We have failed to educate our young over several decades. What we see today is the result of that failure. They not only disrespect the police, they disrespect us! And more importantly, we have failed to teach our children to use common sense. This all began with inappropriate behavior on a bus. Where will it end?

With three young black males ages 20-21 perpetrating a crime spree robbing Dollar General stores in two counties or young black males committing 32 murders in North Charleston last year? I wonder if that defensive mother has a vision of where her child will be in five years.

I talked with Elder James Johnson of S.C. National Action Network. He said a lot of stuff, but among the most profound was, “You can’t take wrong and make right.” That’s where we are, folks. We’ve done our children wrong by neglecting their proper education academically, socially, spiritually and emotionally. Now we want society to do right by them when they don’t even know right from wrong. We haven’t taught them those differences. We all should give thanks this situation didn’t end worse.

Johnson asked where did we go wrong to produce what happened on that school bus. The more important question should be what we are going to do to insure it doesn’t happen again. I suggest we get together with that defensive mother to develop both short term and long term answers to that question.

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