Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What's the 411: Maybe It's Me (Usually Is)

For months now, I've been following my hometown's community FB page, I'm calling Hometown 411. Half the postings are about missing dogs and garage sales, the other half about "creeps" around town that ALL happen to be minorities.

To be fair, there was a teen fight club of sorts in recent weeks that resulted in a kid being shot and killed. The community used Hometown 411 to share information and organize a vigil, which I applaud. I also recognize because of this unfortunate violence, town residents may be on high alert. I can't fault them for wanting to be safe.

Yesterday, a woman posted something that garnered a long, tangled thread of comments, mine included. I'm sharing this community exchange because in light of recent police shootings on a national level, against black men in particular, and the riots that resulted from those shootings, perhaps it is me that is on high alert, still trying to keep a perspective about me.

What follows is the original posting and its crescendo of comments. It may be helpful to know that Hometown is a charming but not diverse community, made up mostly of WASPs and those of Mexican decent. Last names have been omitted, and some comments not included if they didn't lend to the humor and tragedy of it all.


Original Post Hometown 411 post on Facebook: 

Jennifer
I just got back from walking my dog at [the] Park. When I got there, there was a young woman with two young toddlers sitting by the playground. I noticed there was a gold sedan with large chrome wheels and skinny tires parked on the street very close to them. As I came around the park she and the boys got in her truck and left, as I neared the gold car there was a probably 20 something black male in the car just staring at me and watching as I walked by then he left. He had no kids with him, I don't know what he was doing there, but I did not get a good vibe. I feel like he was scoping out the woman and her kids. Sooo please be careful and keep a look out.

Comments:
Casie
creep.


Tami

Might wanna give [Hometown] Pd a call just FYI. you never know


Lindy

Please tell me you called PD and reported suspicious activity


Emily 
Please report these things. We all work together the best we can but we have to call and report suspicious activity. Follow you feeling. 

Mary Ann
Jenn....you can always call the non-emergency dispatch number and ask for a drive by check. Just describe what you see and [Hometown] PD will come and take a look. dispatch number: xxx-7070
 

Malissa
We all need to beware of our surroundings...how sad that this is how [Hometown] is now!


Kelsey
 
It's not just [Hometown] that's "getting bad," it's across the nation. Small town or not, anything can happen. At this point in time, if you feel uncomfortable enough to post something to alert people on 411 or social media, then it's more important to have a call made to the PD. Sounds like your timing may have been a blessing for the previous family at the park so let's all continue to take care of each other

Jennifer
 
I am just now reading all of your posts, I am sorry I didn't call the PD. To be honest I didn't think about it. And he took off. I was more concerned about getting home and letting you all know

Jennifer
I will next time tho. I will be smarter about it. And the next time I see the lady and her kids, because I have seen them there before I will let her know.


Mary Ann
Also try and get a license plate # 

Ryan Jones
I was near the park with my children and there was what looked like a 20-something year old Spanish guy sitting in his PT Cruiser. He was playing some sort of loud Latino or Ranchero-style music with lots of horns and a humming baseline. The wheels had SPINNERS! I grabbed my kids and ran. Calling the police NOW!    

Jennifer
I just called and let dispatch know. But she said there was nothing they can do, which I figured. So if I see him again I will call.


Ryan Jones
Thank you Jennifer! Please keep us in the know! I've locked all my doors and am watching Pat Roberson on TBN. What is going on around here!?


Nicki 
Racial profiling? What if it was an old lady in a station wagon sitting there?? Would u be worried?

Ryan Jones
I WOULD! Is her station wagon gold plated?

Jennifer 
You guys, I was not being racist. I am the last person that would be racist to someone 

Stefanie
There is a huge difference between being judgmental and exercising good judgement. In this instance I think one should trust one's gut. And that's exactly what I would say to my daughter.


Ryan Jones
We may never know if this was an instance of being judgmental or an exercise in good judgement--though many on this thread believe this call to be the latter.


Stefanie
Honestly, it doesn't matter. A woman should never feel apologetic for keeping her safety and her children's safety number one priority.


Ryan Jones
Agreed, but was there any danger?


Steve
Maybe


Ryan Jones
Maybe not.


Stefanie
Doesn't matter.

Steve
It actually does. It's possible that the guy was up to no good, and humans have evolved with instincts that are meant to protect them....

Stefanie
Agreed. It doesn't matter his intentions is what I meant. Safety first... No Apologies!


Steve
Profiling ability is a tool that's built into us to help keep us out of danger, we just need to keep it from causing us to treat others unfairly or with prejudice.


Ryan Jones
"Profiling ability" is built into you by media and your experiences, not by nature, in case that is what you're inferring. It's not illegal to sit in a car by the park. We don't know his intentions and the concerned party didn't bother to find out. She just freaked out! We know he was black. We know he was in a chrome sedan. We know he had no kids with him and he was watching some woman with children in tow. He may have also been watching the clouds or a squirrel shitting--none of this raises a red flag for me. Still, you're allowed to involve the police. You're allowed to raise the suspicions of the community, perhaps even raise guns because you're scared. My hope is that before we call on the police and escalate what could be a perfectly innocent scene, we try to see with better eyes, find a better, truer narrative. 


Lupe
I go to the park and just sit in my car sometimes. Nothing wrong with that


Steve
Ryan, you're half right. The ability to profile is something you're born with , it's something that has evolved as a survival mechanism....The profiles are like software, accumulated through years of experience, the media, whatever information is available to us....


Ryan Jones














 



Lupe
It's [Hometown]...there's not a lot u can do out here but sit in your car and figure out wat u want to do story of my life

Steve
I didn't want to take it this far, but you've left me with no alternative.













 



Cali
"Oh watch out its a black person"
"Oh its just a white person"


Lupe
Cali I wonder if people look as us and say "look at thos Mexicans up too no good" :( we good kids lol


Ryan Jones














Doris
Come on People, no need to start a war :( all Jennifer did is put up a warning, she was concerned like I was when I posted something on the same line, last week...so calm down...


Brenda
Wow just got accepted to this sight and the only thing I can truly say is everyone needs God in their life and not so much anger that is being said in this conversation if we all focused on doing good for our community and truly watch out for one another could you imagine were we could be! Worry about nothing and instead pray about everything


(At this point, Brewzer, the administrator of Hometown 411, sends me a private message) 

Private Message to Ryan Jones:

Brewzer
It is time for you to stop arguing on the Hometown 411 thread. If you do not agree with the post that is fine. Feel free to not pay attention to it or follow it. The conversation has started to get out of hand.

Ryan Jones
Do you think this is an argument? I'm presenting a different perspective, one that seems to be shared by others. If you're feeling threatened, feel free to call the [Hometown] police: xxx-7070.


Brewzer
Thanks I know the number. Just pointing out that the purpose of the site is information. If you do not like or agree with the information being provide, feel free to move on to the next post. Negative comments just for the sake of argument are not needed.


Ryan Jones
Is it possible you're mistaking different information or a different perspective as negative? Please enlighten me and cite what I've said that is negative.

Brewzer
Well it started with the sarcastic comments about the Hispanic guy in the PT cruiser. That kind of set the tone for the rest of your comments.

Ryan Jones














Ryan Jones
Aaand, I have a hard time believing those on the thread, including you, knew my first comment was sarcastic--which was my intention.
 

Brewzer 
I am done with this conversation. Please respect my request or you may be removed from the group

Ryan Jones
















Brewzer
Since it is my page and set up as an informational site not a "public opinion" forum I don't think I will be going anywhere. Just a reminder it also is not a "public forum" it is a private group, and membership can be terminated by either party at any time. Follow the rules I have set for the group or go elsewhere.

(Meanwhile, back on Hometown 411)


Brewzer 
Everyone needs to stop with the negative comments. Information was posted. Do with it what you want, I do not believe it was intended as a race issue and people need to stop trying to turn it into one. Any further negative or sarcastic comments will be removed.
Thanks
Admin


(Most, if not all, of my previous comments are now deleted.)

Steve
No one here is saying any race is a problem, the reason race was mentioned in the initial post was so others would keep an eye out, the same reason as the type of car was mentioned.


Doris
END OF STORYYYYYYYY


Ryan Jones (This comment was deleted shortly after posting.)
Brewzer, the admin, has private messaged accusing me of being negative. I'll likely be kicked from the group. He tells me:














 


Ryan Jones (This comment was deleted shortly after posting.)
I'm simply suggesting another take on what Jennifer witnessed. An opposite or different stance is not necessarily negative. If we are to look out for the community, as everyone seems to agree upon, why are we so quick to assume that the guy sitting in his car is not part of the community? When did we start sending cops instead of welcome wagons?

Ryan Jones (This photo was deleted shortly after posting.)


































(Moments later, I was kicked and blocked from Hometown 411)


UPDATE: This entire posting has been taken down from Hometown 411. 

Footnote: Was this the guy sitting in his car?