When Jake DiMare sent me the link to Rawstory, he included the subject line “this gave me a feeling.” I responded, “me too,” but wasn’t entirely clear what the feeling was. You see, so many of these videos end with blood on the sidewalk, or if we’re lucky, only a man being led away in cuffs for having the audacity of being all black and stuff. Not this one.
On its surface, one could see a man, Dennis Stucky, sitting on the curb, wrongly denied his right to be left alone even though it was a neighborhood where he appeared “out of place,” with a woman who came to his aid, a lawyer, who not only dealt with the police, but took charge of the man, walked him to freedom and made clear that the police were not welcome to engage in such impropriety in that neighborhood.
Jody Westby was a star. A good person. A strong person. A person who stood up for another person in need. While it’s possible she could have been at some risk, she gave it no thought. But then, a woman like Westby would never think she’s at risk from the police. And for the most part, that’s true.
At the same time, the video reflects the flagrant racism, on all ends, with the cops assuming a black man in a white neighborhood must mean criminal, a white woman treated with care while a black man sat on the curb. As Raw Story explains it:
A recent videotaped incident in Washington, D.C., highlights the way race and class matter in police interactions with residents.
The video, which was posted online by the Washington Post, shows white attorney Jody Westby coming to the aid of black handyman Dennis Stucky, who has been stopped by two officers and is sitting on a curb in the upscale Foxhall Crescent neighborhood.
The scenario was classic, and horrible as well as wonderful, at the same time.
“We have a burglar alarm,” says the officer standing in the street. “He’s coming with bags.”
The officer, who is black, tells Westby that Stucky had become “loud and boisterous,” which made police suspicious.
“Because you’re accusing him,” Westby says, sternly.
So often, people react to a person being less than thrilled with being accused by police of wrongdoing for no reason, with the retort that it would have gone easier if they were just compliant. That’s the undercurrent of the officer who tells Westby that Stucky was being “loud and boisterous.”
Should Stucky thank the cops for seizing him for no reason? Should he be passive, if not happy, because that’s how people are supposed to behave when they’re black in a white neighborhood? Notably, the police offer nothing to suggest that Stucky has done anything wrong, other than to exist while they have the knowledge of a burglar alarm going off somewhere. Close enough to seize the nearest black man?
This is a good video and a bad video. But in the end, Westby and Stucky walk away, unharmed. In the end, its a good video. But as Jake said, this gave me a feeling. A very mixed feeling.