One person's thoughts may change the world
In my next to last segment, this one was a slight mistake by my mother which got blown up into a gun draw even that remains with me to this day. I was about 12 or 13, and we were in the New Center area of Detroit, going to my piano lessons. We drove through an area that was just north of Wayne state University, On the east side of Woodward, and, in an area where a lot of black people lived.
This particular Saturday, it was a police raid on an apartment building, and they had a number of people lined up against the building with their hands up and spread eagle. There was a second set of officers covering them across the street with their guns drawn. We were driving right through their line of fire. I said to my mother, “Mom, this may be a shoot out!”.
She panicked, and rightly so. She ducked down in the seat, and instead of hitting the brake, she accidently hit the accelerator pedal. The car lurched forward, jumped the curb, and stopped near the sidewalk. The police panicked as well. They ran over to our car, and when I got up in my seat, I was faced with an officer pointing a weapon at my head telling me to, “Don’t Move”. Another officer held a shotgun in front of our car, pointing it at my mother, telling her to get out of the car.
They then pulled her out of the car at gunpoint, and threw her to the ground in the grass in front of another apartment building. She begged them to stop hurting her, and then they took me out of the car as well and forced me against the car while I stood there and watched as they abused my mother, at first attempting to put handcuffs on her.
There duty officer then came by, and told them to let her go. This is the part I’ll never forget. There was a group of bystanders watching the drug raid, who she asked did anyone see what the police did to her ( threw her down, at gunpoint, abused her, etc…). Not one of those people in that group stepped up, and they were all black people.
I learned several things that day. The police did not respect my mother and threw her down to the ground. As a child being held at gunpoint, was powerless and could do nothing about it. And, any group of bystanders will not automatically step up and assist you. They looked at us as if to say, “better you than me”. The police let us go with no apology and with tears in my mother’s eyes, and her complaining about her treatment, and scolded the crowd for no one willing to make a statement in her defense.
She later called the precinct in that area, and talked to the duty officer over the phone. He took her complaint, and then tried to scold my mother for making a complaint at all. I listened to the call, and felt as if officer did not care about her making a complaint. In other words, nothing happened.
This happened right after my father’s death, and I remember how helpless I felt. My mother’s complaint went of death ear, and she was angry and distraught. “This would not have happened if my father was alive”, I said to myself. He would have know what to do. I never felt that vulnerable before in my whole life.
Thank God for officer Duncan….