We've all seen the admonition: if you see something, say something. In a post-9/11 world it brings to mind threats of terrorism by non-citizens. Our fear of violence stemming from "strange-looking foreign people" continues unabated, years after that event. If anything, recent changes in the political climate have made it worse.
People of color in this country have long been on the receiving end of white folks contacting authorities. Suspicious behavior is nothing more than "walking while black" in a predominantly white neighborhood, "driving while black" or even laughing too loudly in a public place. All too often these reports end in police violence, in many cases toward completely innocent people.
"If you see something, say something."
I've often wondered if I would report something if I found it suspicious or alarming. How would I know it was a legitimate concern? What if I were wrong? What if I were right but afraid to contact authorities because I didn't want to make the wrong call?
This week I witnessed behavior on social media that absolutely crossed the line for me. And it wasn't some "strange-looking foreign person." It wasn't a person of color. It was a local white guy whose online behavior was threatening and full of hate.
I went to Howard County Police website and clicked on the link to report it, I asked them to confirm when they received it, and they did.
I won't ever know how this situation turned out. I do know there haven't been anymore similar posts since that day. But I won't ever know any more than that. I'm hoping for the best.
And my experience confirms that it's not the "strangers" we need to worry about.
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