There was nothing special about this particular Friday. It was shaping up to be just like all the rest, a springboard into the weekend. I was sitting at my desk following up on emails and trying to decide what I was going to have for lunch. I am fortunate enough to work on the administration floor. On our floor there is a big conference room, and several offices that house the COO, CFO, and a few VP’s and directors. Just wanted to set the scene for what was about to take place.
We were hosting a meeting of female executives from around the area, so there happened to be more activity than usual on our floor.
I was about to go get my lunch when I heard the screams and tussling in the hallway. It was like a scene in a movie, I heard somebody scream “stop him, he’s got my purse”. I ran out of the office and saw ladies removing shoes, hobbling in heals trying to stop the guy. (it was actually kind of comical, because I thought to myself, what would they do with him once they caught him??) Anyway, I gave chase not knowing who I was chasing or what he looked liked. He had managed to make his way out of the building and I caught up to him and he stopped. Burly looking, little bit bigger then me, wearing grey sweats and a do rag. He asked me why I was chasing him? I asked him why was he running? He said man, I don’t have anything, about that time I hear the lady who’s purse he stole run up behind me and say that she found the purse that he had ditched on the ground. I turn around to talk to her and make sure she had everything, and he took off again. Part of me was like, let him go, she got it back, (no harm no foul), but then the other part of me was thinking, if this man was brazen enough to walk on that floor in the middle of the day with people around and go behind someones desk and steal their purse then he might do it again.
I took off, reliving my track days, adrenaline pumping and heart racing, it was the best run I have had in years. He was ditching and dodging trying to get away. He ran back into the building, and by this time security had came out to where I was, and they were asking me to give a description, and we lost him in the process. They spread out, looking for him in the parking lot, I run inside looking for him, asking people if they had seen him, and one lady had and said she saw him running through the hall. I went in that direction, and after about 5-10 minutes I couldn’t find him. I went back outside to coordinate with security to see if they had seen him. Myself, and the head of security were standing outside talking trying to figure out the next move.
While we were standing there one of our shuttle bus drivers were driving by, something told me to stop her bus and ask her if she had seen anything. I stopped the bus and gave her the man’s description and she said that she hadn’t seen him, and that she was the only one on the bus. Something told me (The Holy Spirit) “go check that bus”. I said ma’am let me check just to be on the safe side. She stopped, I walk in the shuttle bus, don’t see anything, I get to the back where they put the wheelchairs, and to my surprise there he was laying on the ground in the fetal position. I’m not going to lie, it scared the *%$# out of me, because that’s just something you don’t see everyday. (I’m not sure who was more afraid him or me) I had to at least try to act tough, so I told him to get up and be cool. This is where it gets interesting. I try to come up with the best “cop-talk” I could think of. (I tried to recall what the cops on Law and Order SVU might say, or one of the police from The First 48…lol) The best I could come up with was “put your hands where I can see them.”
By this time the bus driver had screamed and ran off the bus ( I think the reality of her not knowing that she had a stow-away riding with her hit, and she was kind of shaken) I yell f to the head of security that I had found him. He came running in, and the perp (more cop-talk) was resigned in defeat he was sitting on one of the seats. We were talking to him while we waited for the officers.
The head of security, who is a retired Marine, and who also happens to be a black man was standing there with me in the middle of the isle blocking his path. We asked him why he did it, he said “because I am hungry and I have not eaten for a couple of days” He said, “C’mon brotha, please don’t let them take me back to jail” STOP:
I’m going to be totally honest and frank. In that moment, I had started to question my actions. I thought to myself, I chased this man around this building like a dog, I was thinking, I am just going to contribute to adding another black man to the already unbalanced and unfair prison system, I was mad at myself for standing there next to security towering over this man as he begged us not to press charges. I was mad because I knew, if given the chance, his life may have turned out different, I was mad because as a Christian I felt that if someone had witnessed to him, or if he would have had a father in his life then may be, just may be we would not have met under these circumstances.
He was actually a pleasant, remorseful guy, and never put up a fight (although I was ready to bang). The officers came and frisked him and cuffed him up, he was looking at me like I did something wrong for not letting him go. All I could say to him was “I will pray for you.”
I know to some, it may sound crazy that I would even second guess my actions, but I would venture to say that most black men that are in my position can relate to my dilemma. The question I have is why is that? Is there something innate in our being that leads us to question authority? Is it because we have been slighted in the past that we tend to sometimes try to justify the actions of some of our brothers that are not as fortunate as some of us are? Am I truly my brothers keeper? Is every brotha a brother? In some ways I would submit to you that the answer is yes. Do our brothers sometimes fail us and us them, yes. Do they sometimes not meet the expectations that we set, yes. But, especially from a Christian perspective, I feel that we have to learn to forgive, uplift, and redirect. It doesn’t mean that we don’t correct our brothers when they are wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we have to cover for them when they break the law. However, I personally will never abandon my brothers black or white. My faith in God has taught me that we are all sinners, and therefore we are all prone to make bad decisions that we will look back on and regret. The question is, who is willing to step in and bridge the gap so that these types of circumstance don’t continue to happen?
Clarity and Hindsight:
After all the high fives and handshakes I was still feeling a lot of emotions ranging from anger, sadness, relief, disappointment…etc (I think the adrenaline was wearing off) I had to go to the holding area with the Admin. assistant to help identify him. She looked in and identified him and left. I stayed there and chatted with him for a while. He was pissed off at me at first, but I told him to put his self in my position, and he realized what he had done, he even kind of apologized. I again told him I would pray for him, and left it at that.
After having time to reflect on the events, and speaking to all those involved, I have no question that I did the right thing. Who knows what would have happened to that driver if she would have left the building with him hiding in the back, who else could he have hurt if we let him go? Come to find out, he had an extensive criminal history, and this was not his first rodeo. I also started to think about the fact that if he had a gun I would have been very vulnerable.
To some reading this it may seem crazy that I would even second guess my actions, to others, they may think that I was wrong for not letting him go. All I know for sure is that the Lord placed me at the right place at the right time this particular day, and we will not have to wonder what would have happened if I had not checked that bus.
I wish my pen were sharper, and that I was a better writer, i’m working on that. I’m trying to blog more often so that I can keep a record of some of the events that take place in my life. Also, I want to leave something for my kids to look back on and have a record of some of my experiences. If you are an English teacher or professor reading this, please forgive my misplaced commas, apostrophes, and any mispellings that I was too lazy to go back and correct….LOL!