Officer Alex implores the community to change “for the children”
Recently, there have been a series of publicized arrests of youth downtown after hours in the area of the Tennessee Aquarium.
Some were arrested for “disorderly conduct” (aka “acting the fool in public and refusing to stop doing so when asked then ordered”), some were cited for minor offenses (jaywalking, trespassing on a posted private lot), and some were ordered to be picked up by parents or guardians because of these things.
This was met by annoyance and criticism because as it happened, these children were… Well, actually, I’m not sure what I’m allowed to refer to them as since America has become a literary and verbal minefield for labels that the United Nations and Angelina Jolie couldn’t make a dent in.
We are all technically of African descent as far as I’m concerned, besides knowing too many African Americans that are Caucasians who happened to be born in Africa and immigrated here making it a misnomer to me. I think “children of color” really is offensive, so I will refer to them as “black,” since it still seems appropriate to call me “white.” (If this is my last column ever printed, at least you’ll know why now. If you weren’t offended, that is.)
So anyway, the children cited and transported were almost entirely that word I used above, and so it was decried as “racist.” It was determined that they were denied an opportunity, and were excluded from the privilege of other children that were not the word I used to describe them above. Again, the cops were the bad guys, the kids were victims, and the MSNBC beat marched on.
Another way of looking at it, however, is that there were juveniles running around after 11 p.m. and midnight unsupervised and doing as little as blocking sidewalks and littering to as much as harassing and threatening passersby on foot or running into the roads to harass moving cars. And by “juveniles,” I’m not talking about 17 and 18 year olds: I’m talking 9 -12 year olds as well.
Nine year old kids running around downtown streets after midnight. A parent can’t be located whether or not their children are breaking laws or ordinances, and cops are the bad guys for citing a parent or taking the kids to Juvenile Detention when they can’t locate said parent? For not instead “using it as an opportunity to educate or provide economic opportunities so they can transcend their situation?”
What is so wrong with accountability that it now villainizes those that bring it to children under these circumstances or, God forbid, to their parents? Are we so obsessed with correcting cultural perceptions and past transgressions that we should allow 9 and 12 year olds to run around any part of town after midnight doing whatever feels right at the moment rather than finally act to prevent and/or modify that behavior?
Call me presumptuous, but I believe we are creating a worse problem by ignoring that current one. Sometimes, there isn’t some “grand overarching plan” needed to fix a problem, based in grant money and committees and studies; sometimes you just have to fix the problem at hand as you would put Neosporin and a bandage on a cut instead of arguing about how and why it got there and looking for blame and ignoring it to the point it becomes gangrenous rather than just…tending…to the cut.
Kids need parents. At least one. Or a guardian (in every sense). They need to be shown they are loved, so they can in turn learn to love things and develop a conscience themselves (one of my main tenets of dealing with kids as an officer, a parent, and a human being in general). And? They can’t be allowed to run around downtown like a sequel to “Lord of the Flies.” Children, like their parents, need to learn accountability—and if they can’t learn it from their guardians, then it really does fall to “us.”
Don’t teach kids that accountability is a joke. Don’t dilute “racism” to a point that actual instances of such go overlooked and ignored from the sheer commonality of the word’s use. And please, please stop the combination of these two things.
Selective interpretation of a problem doesn’t make it any less of a problem, but it does perpetuate it. Stop looking for a fight—and you may just solve a problem now and then, no matter how much grant money it may cost you, and how much you may not be able to use it to further your agenda, whatever that may be. For once I can say this with a straight face:
Just do it for the children.