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.


Dave Morris said…
You get ALL the excitement! The other day at MY grocery store, I witnessed a rutabaga roll off the pile and onto the floor. How 'bout that???
Amandarama said…
Damn! I'd like to believe that I too would have probably kept out of the fray, but the one time I ever saw a beat down in progress (on the sidewalk outside of Boston Commons, Tremont Street) I went running toward it like I could do...something... I had no idea who was right or wrong in the situation, I was just sucked in by the violence. I guess you never know what you're going to do until you stumble across the situation.
Latigo Flint said…
There's nothing like the specter of racism to take all the fun out of a good ol' fashioned beat-down.

I can't wait until we're all just a spotty-grayish color.
Lance Manion said…
Does Plano hold these events often? 'Cause I'd love to participate in some civic beatdowns.
Mary Lewys said…
My thinking on such is, "don't start none, won't be none." She was thinking about constitutional rights and Rodney King.

That explains me and my friend Lise to a "T." I tend to side with you.

If you're going to steal, steal big. Don't be stupid and get caught.

Thanks for stopping by the journal. Your comment was mucho appreciated.
Ari said…
Did you check carefully, Dave? One of those rutabagas might have been a slightly lighter shade and just "happened" to flick its root. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

It would've been different, Amanda, if it had been like a man whooping on a woman or bullies beating up a kid or what not. But I worked at a retail store for so long, I just figure stealing is a pretty dumb thing to do, so you're asking for trouble.

I heard it was cafe au lait, Latty. Who're you mixin' with???

You're darn tootin', Lance! The State of Texas presents: Civic Beatdowns!! Come one, come all!

I spose I'm just getting cynical in my old schoolmarm age, Mary. Kids who do dumb stuff and get away with it move on to better and badder things. Better that he get tackled today than shot tomorrow doing an armed robbery.
"don't start none, won't be none."

I like it.
Trevor Record said…
Hmm, well just the fact that your friend did something says a lot. Most people, regardless of their feelings, would not.
Azathoth said…
I would have been with you were it not for the pushing down of the female employee/shopper. Instead I feel they should have gotten in a few more shots before the cops got there.
Ari said…
Thanks, LBB. It's one of my many well- worn philosophies. It's also a convenient excuse/epithet to use for punching someone in an organ when they annoy you sufficiently.

Very true, Trevor. Namely, me.

Yep, Aza. The kid was foolish in a number of ways.
Ari said…
Also, just for the edification of the audience, let me just add that it didn't seem to me that the kid was being injured (although my friend would differ with that).

I say it was a beating, but actually it was more like a couple or three fat rednecks holding down a woman-shoving teenage thief who happened to be a different color.

Do I think the race difference affected the problem? Yes.

Do I support the unfair treatment of minority people? Of course not.

However, stealing is still wrong. And after much haranguing, we did find out with reasonable certainty that the kid did in fact steal a good bit of stuff, which seemed to be drug-related.

And when you make choices which land you in the hands of the police, giving control of your destiny to them, you don't have much room to complain. Because I don't think they can be trusted either.
The Unseen One said…
I saw a similar thing in college once. A guy was trying to steal a turkey, clotheslined a woman on his way past, and four employees jumped on him. They pulled his sweatshirt up over his head and held him down until the police arrived. While they held him down, they took turns punching him. They were all black... the thief, the woman, and the employees.

I wonder if your friend would have been so apt to jump in under those circumstances, or if the perp where white.

Having been on the recieving end of several violent and non-violent crimes, I have no sympathy for criminals. Had I been there, I would have probably told your friend to butt the hell out and mind her own business, then gone into a tirade about how people like her are making it downright dangerous for police to do their jobs.

Good for the cop. He showed more restraint with her than I would have.

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