As y’all probably know by now, I grew up in the inner city, Old Fourth Ward, in Atlanta. As I have written here previously, there was a respect and regard for law enforcement officers and police — as reinforced by our parents. But something has broken down, especially in inner city communities — the family, and with that, a lack of respect and regard for authority. Accompanying that is the rise of criminal behavior — sometimes very abhorrent behavior – which too many seem able to carelessly dismiss.
I’m no longer living in Florida, but a recent story out of my ol’ stomping grounds of Palm Beach County is yet another testament to the crumbling inner city.
As reported by both BizPac Reivew and also covered by the Sun-Sentinel, “A Delray Beach, Florida man was stopped Tuesday while walking down the street for suspicion of smoking marijuana in public. Rather than talk to police, the man ran into a nearby home — where it seems a party was being held.”
However, the left-leaning South Florida Sun-Sentinel took a different approach based on the words and video of one Cory Provost, a New York City resident who was visiting Delray Beach over the holidays. As the Sun-Sentinel writes, “A witness to a melee that broke out in Delray Beach on Saturday said the situation became heated when police officers approached a birthday party at a house in the Southwest neighborhood. “Provost said two officers wearing uniforms got out of the car, walked onto the lawn and accused the partygoers of smoking marijuana. Provost said that wasn’t true. There was a lot of shouting back and forth, he said. The residents were asking the cops to leave the yard and they didn’t do so.”
You can watch the raw footage here — and remember that’s only part of the story.
There was a different depiction reported by law enforcement officers. “Police Sgt. Nicole Guerriero late Wednesday said the footage doesn’t show the entire incident. And because only a portion is being shown, police said, it’s not a fully accurate depiction of what happened. Officers smelled marijuana in the area, saw someone who they thought was smoking and followed him into the yard, Guerriero said Tuesday. In an arrest report, officers said the man they saw was a known drug user with whom they’ve had contact in the past.”
But for some reason, the Sun-Sentinel preferred to offer credibility to Mr. Provost who states according to their reporting of their story, “Provost said the situation did get out of hand — for both the partygoers and the police. He said at first, people formed a semi-circle around police questioning them as to why they were there. When police started yelling at them, he said, the people became more agitated and began shuffling around. “Then, a little later on, something was thrown,” he said. “You heard a glass crack, I think a bottle or something was thrown, and I believe it hit the police vehicle.”
Hmm, why would people form a semi-circle around law enforcement officers? That certainly could be deemed a threatening posture. And so it ended up being exactly as Sgt. Guerriero stated, “They formed this shield and started getting aggressive. “Someone hit the officer and pushed him away, they were throwing bottles, they were cursing and screaming at them.” A police cruiser’s windshield was damaged during the skirmish but fortunately no injuries were reported. “The next thing they know, there’s 70 to 75 people out there,” Guerriero said “The officers had to use pepper spray to get the people back.”
The officers had probable cause — open consumption of marijuana in Florida is still illegal — and they investigated. The entire situation could have been diffused but instead a confrontation ensued — seemingly in the face of guilt. Perhaps these officers would have seen this differently if they hadn’t been encircled, blows hadn’t been thrown or their vehicle hadn’t been damaged. As I stated at the beginning, where is the regard and respect not just for law enforcement officers, but for the law, period?
Here is the subjective and judgmental commentary from Mr. Provost that was printed as the closing by the Sun-Sentinel, “Provost said he thinks the police were looking to start something with the group. In the arrest report, police said they were patrolling the area because it is an area known for high drug use. Provost said police should’ve tried to calm down the group in this situation. When the partygoers questioned why the police were on private property, Provost said they should’ve gotten answers, not yelling from the police. “There’s a lot of rhetoric going around that if you question police you’re anti-police, and I don’t think that’s the case,” he said. “I think we want to have police approach situations with a little more compassion and respect because we, too, are human beings. If there was more trust in the community of our police, a lot of these situations wouldn’t happen.”
Sir, where was the trust as NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu sat in their car eating?
And why are the police supposed to calm the situation when they’re the ones being threatened? As Sgt Guerriero says, “The officers were afraid of what could happen in the situation and called for backup. There were four officers and an estimated group of 70 people involved by the end of the scuffle, she said. It lasted for more than an hour.”
We need the news to report the facts and stay away from civilian commentators. Mr. Provost will head back to New York City after his vacation. Those officers will continue to patrol, seeking to maintain law and order — while protecting the law-abiding citizens of that Delray Beach neighborhood. What was the result you ask? Well, the Sun-Sentinel thought it was just too much to print, but BizPac Reivew did.
“All told, four men were arrested in the incident. Keith Clinton Sr., 58, charged with obstruction of justice; Keith Clinton Jr., 32, charged with obstruction of justice and assaulting a police officer; Jamarr Harris, 28, charged with obstruction of justice and inciting a riot; and Victor Isme, 34, charged with assault of a law enforcement officer, inciting a riot, possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.”
I wonder why the South Florida Sun-Sentinel left all that out?