It's not often one gets the opportunity to see a beating taking place outside a chain grocery store. But a few weeks past, before the near death experience that is driving in Plano, Texas, a compadre and I witnessed just that.
As we were walking up to buy some shells and cheese or red delicious apples or the like, violence was ensuing. Down on the concrete parking lot, 3 or 4 grown white men chased, apprehended, and then held down a black teenage boy. We stood and watched for a moment, stunned. "They're gonna get themselves sued," I said. Some bystanders told us he'd been shoplifting, and we learned MUCH later, had pushed down a female employee or customer while trying to escape from the store, hence the chase.
Quickly a division sprang up between my friend and I. She ran to assist the kid, and got right in the middle of it, telling the red-shirted store manager what for. I stood back, not wanting to get involved with a kid who, I thought, was making a stupid mistake and probably deserved what he was getting. We're both teachers, although I've been at it longer, so I reckon I'm more jaded with respect to misbehavior and its motives. She went in and tried to stop it, I suggested calling the cops. My thinking on such is, "don't start none, won't be none." She was thinking about constitutional rights and Rodney King.
The fuzz had already been summoned, though, and showed up moments later. My friend was asked to step away from the fracas, but remain near the store for questioning. The kid was released, handcuffed and put in the car, and the officers there did a quick and fair job handling the situation. When my friend explained that she thought unnecessary force was being used, the police officer replied, "But he's a robber, ma'am."
For our (mostly her) trouble, my friend and I got escorted off the premises by the police (at the request of Manager Redshirt) and asked not to return to the store that day. It was kinda comical and kinda sad, being asked not to spread any more concern for the rights of the accused amongst the artichokes and cabbage. The local constabulary apparently thought we might spread the fire of revolution to some soccer moms or grannies while we were in there.
It's awfully clear to me now that frontier justice is alive and well down here.
Whether that's a good or a bad thing, I couldn't say.