I have subscribed to my neighborhood’s NextDoor feed. I knew this was a mistake when I did it. I figured out from the email list that we have for the area that I don’t really like a lot of my neighbors(neighbors meaning people in the entire Piney Orchard community, not the people on my street). I subscribed anyway thinking I would use it for informational purposes and not engage. I’ve been pretty good about it. I rarely click-through to read a full discussion and when I do, I never get involved. If the thread annoys me, I just stop reading. I’ve been so good. This week, I’ve fallen off the wagon.
It started with reading too many messages on the thread complaining about people driving too fast on the road behind my house(and blaming it on “others” who are cutting through our precious neighborhood). I read them. I complained about them. I didn’t respond.
Last night comes the real topic of my rant. I was up late watching my Ravens look terrible on Thursday Night Football.. I get an email from NextDoor. The basics of the post are – a woman was walking home from the grocery store and was going to use the path behind the store. Saw someone else on the path who came from the area of the bushes. The person did not approach her, talk to her, do anything suspicious. In fact, it seemed they walked away from her. She still said she planned to call the police to report it and then described the “suspect” as a slender black male in a hoodie. So, basically, she saw a black guy in a hoodie on a public path, got scared, called it suspicious and planned to call the police. I thought my faith in my community would be restored when a couple of people joined in to tell her that calling the police was dumb and could possibly be dangerous to someone who had done nothing wrong. My only contribution was to reply “So you’re going to call the police to report someone for walking while black? Seriously?” I’m very eloquent.
This morning there have been several more posts telling her there was no need to call the police or offer a description of someone who was walking on a public path. There have also been people thanking her and saying that it is always good to be vigilant and post suspicious activity even if it seems silly. THERE WAS NO SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY! Someone was walking on a public path. They did not approach her. They did not talk to her. They did nothing but exist. The existence of a black male in a hoodie is not a crime. Would we be discussing this at all had the “suspect” been blonde, teenage girl(the scariest of all humans)? I doubt it. The existence of white people is not generally considered suspicious. I walk a lot on trails in the area while wearing a hoodie. No one calls me suspicious because I’m an old white guy. We have to stop calling the police to report people of color for living their lives. I don’t want to live in a neighborhood where this is considered a good idea. Stop!
Is it good to be vigilant? Yes. Be aware of your surroundings. If you are on a trail and are uncomfortable with someone else on the trail, leave the trail. If someone actually breaks the law, call the police.