Mary Beth Writes

I was quietly sitting here, just writing, when I heard yelling. I looked up and there was Modern America Right Here Right Now, in front of my house.

Cops had a car pulled over and were yelling at someone to come out. A black man with dreadlocks got out, hands in air, protesting and arguing to the cops. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but he was arguing respectfully. I heard his “Sir” several times. He was not swearing that I could hear.

There were about eight or nine cops. All white, all positioned behind their various cop car doors; I think there were five cars for a while. They all had guns trained on the guy. One was a long gun. While I was trying to comprehend what I was seeing the cop with the long gun shot it. He did. A cop with a long gun shot down my street this morning. The shot was some kind of “non-lethal” projectile because the guy screamed and after that he limped.

I was safely upstairs in my office yet I felt real disbelief and fear as I looked at all those real guns pointed at that one man. Because he did not respond fast enough to move TOWARDS those guns and cops, they shot him. He was already outside his car, hands up, moving slowly towards them and trying to talk, when they shot at him.

By now I was using the camera function of my phone to record what was going on. The guy had his hands up in the air and when they said higher, he put them higher. More screaming vehicles arrived. More cops yelled more hard-to-decipher instructions. I heard crying from the car.

My office window has a screen so it it’s impossible to shoot a clear photo through it. I went downstairs to my glassed-in front porch and continued to use my phone to capture what I was witnessing.

Cops ordered the woman who had been driving, from the car. She looked terrified and held her hands as high as possible while they called her over. I don’t know her “race”; she just looked very American to me. Cops came to the car, checked it out for a while, opened the trunk. After that, some cops accompanied the woman back to the car to get her tiny infant who was in a baby carrier in the back seat.

For another twenty minutes a posse of cops looked in the front yards along that side of the street. A neighbor said later they picked up their small bags of bean-shot. I don’t know the correct terminology, but they picked up what they had shot at the suspect. They looked hard and for quite a while. The neighbor said even though it is “non-lethal” it created a divot in her lawn.

The incident is over now.

While it was going on, I and several neighbors were using our phones to document what was happening. One could occasionally see a cop scan the fronts of all our houses. We were all on our front porches, just standing, watching, usually with phones up.

When they finally allowed the woman to return to her car, she looked at all of us and raised her arm high and waved to us. We waved back and yelled, “If you need video, we have it!”

Looking at my neighbors, none of whom I know well, I felt Dr. King’s arc of the universe bending.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Maybe the cops were keeping our community safe from a bad guy. Maybe they were overreaching to arrest one black man with dreadlocks because a black man with dreadlocks somewhere committed a crime. I don’t know.

But our suppositions were not neutral. And we were watching.

PS: Len called the Waukesha Police Department a few weeks ago to ask if they use body cameras.

They do not.

 

Comments

With all that is going on across the U.S. one would think police departments and officers would be fully aware of how actions such as this look! I feel sick with this picture of your idyllic street, lovely home and 9 weapons drawn. What the heck is going on???? I hope you can get more particulars. Glad you are safe.
Mary Beth's picture

Yeah. How hard would it have been, when all those guns were drawn and the guy was already outside the car with his hands up - how hard would it have been to slow down a bit and listen to what he said? To reassure him of what they were going to do to keep themselves safe. But that if he was innocent he would be free by afternoon. To de-escalate. I understand cop jobs can be incredibly fraught and we heard later they were following up on a violent incident. But they used their power without regard for HIS pounding heart and HIS worry for his family. It is supreme arrogance to ask a black person in America today to walk towards drawn guns ... fast.

This is what we white folks can do...witness, call the chief of police to ask questions, and hold them accountable. Thank you!!

As you know, You and your neighbors did the right thing. We ALL have to bear witness! Wonder if they picked up their bean bags to avoid littering or to hide how many they shot. When you find out, let us know what this was all about.
Leonard's picture

Here is a spreadsheet that someone has put together of upcoming actions in Wisconsin for Black Lives Matter: (cut and paste everything after this to the address bar of your browser) https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uLk5DYYMqlxZAbO_TAbAxxS9dSmpXtB3jUooCf1I170/edit?fbclid=IwAR0xthWMw1DTS5FwchAFDaJXee9bAF1T-08fkerps28DRChCsWF4NBCtvlw#gid=0
Mary Beth's picture

I put this URL on my Twitter account just now. If you are on Twitter and would like to amplify this story, go to @MBDanielson. Thanks.

As the neighbor who lives on the other side of the street, I have a few more details surrounding the incident that happened. The vehicle in question was parked on my side, and after the bulk of the action was over, two officers were left to question the female driver while she comforted her infant child. I overheard the bulk of that conversation and can provide some more info. First let me say that the amount of officers there for 3 people, 1 of who is an infant was astonishing to me, it seemed they had more than enough officers there to "protect". I am happy that the man escaped with his life, but as I stood on my porch windows open filming I wasn't so sure that would be the case. Now that I've said that I will say this. The man in question who was arrested was rightly arrested. He had been involved in a stabbing incident earlier in the day where he fled the scene. According to the female driver he had been in a fight with an acquaintance and they were tussling when suddenly she saw blood. Evidence of this tussle was found when the officers searched the car and found a shirt that had blood stains on it. But the show of force on the officers part firing two beanbag shots at the suspect seems a bit excessive considering that the officer who was taking the statement of the female driver after the fact stated that he knew both the driver and the passenger. Can you imagine what would have happened if they didn't know the two individuals? One of the bean bag shots (which the officers spent 10 minutes trying to find) left a 3 inch dirt hole in my lawn, imagine what it could do to human flesh. It was further evidence to me that incidents like this don't just happen in "the city." And I am emboldened to speak out all the more!
Mary Beth's picture

Tess, I saw you with your camera when I was with mine. Seeing you at your window gave me courage to stay at mine. I'm sure we both seriously wondered what would happen if shots started flying. This was an intense scene. The cops were in protective gear with guns. You and are were at our windows with phones.

To be honest my first reaction when I heard the shots, and saw what was going on, was to go back inside and ignore what was going on. But I steeled myself because as long as those people weren't safe I wanted to film.
Mary Beth's picture

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.” ― Mark Twain This works for me...

Good words, good words to live by.

This is scary M.B., Not the fact that this happend in your neighborhood because nobody is really free of this sort of thing anymore, but the fact of the overkill in taking this man into custody... As a POC the very idea of being told to walk towards a large number of police with guns aimed at my chest scares the crap out of me... Just one false move on his part could have led to the ending of his life... It didn't matter that he was being cooperative, he's a black man in the United States and as we all know that doesn't bode well for the most part... As a POC I'd have been hard pressed to follow their directive knowing that it could easily cost me my life... Guilty of a crime or not some police in this country beleave in overkill as represented by the firing of none lethal weapon's at a man who was already cooperating with the directives from the police... Who can possibly say what would have happened had you and your nieghbors NOT been recording the goings on... I applaud you all for documenting what was going on rather than staying inside your home's... We need more witnesses to what has been going on in this country...

Thank you all for your witness. This is how we will change.

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