I should have taken a picture. Why didn't I take a picture?
It was a calm Cleveland morning. I had an early coffee date in Tremont at a popular spot, Civilization. Everything was on point: I got a good parking spot, a good cup of coffee and a good table. Being a few minutes early, I pecked at my iPad until my associate arrived.
She did. We chatted and laughed and exchanged Cleveland stories. It was a casual and fun network opportunity between two locals who know this town up one side and down the other.
At about 9 a.m., about half a dozen cops ambled in.
Dear reader, these cops were outfitted in a way I've never seen. They were positively encumbered by their bulletproof vests, which were loaded with god-knows-what, but so much so that they bulged out several inches from their chests. They had pistols strapped to their thighs and some other sort of weapon on their shoulders. At least one of them had the word DEPUTY (or was it SHERIFF?) written across his back. They crowded around a table next to us and commenced a leisurely coffee break.
|photo by Bob Perkoski|
Why the hell didn't I take a picture? It would have been so easy to discreetly take a picture with my iPad.
At one point, a lady cop stood up and scooted by me in the tight space between our tables, her gun just inches from my head. No, I wasn't afraid. I just thought why the hell do I have to tolerate this broad's gun right by my head while I'm just sitting here having coffee?
The bottom line is that those cops were outfitted for war. They looked like they were headed into Afghanistan instead of out onto Starkweather Avenue. While they sat there casually sipping brew for a half hour, they were clearly dressed to fight a vicious enemy.
Who was the enemy? The barista? Me? The scruffy man outside on the sidewalk? Maybe it's anyone who behaves erratically. I have no idea, but I do know they were armed against Clevelanders.
Now then, someone will surely chime in and say they were armed to protect Clevelanders. Perhaps that is so. Sitting there, however, I felt more perplexed than anything else. Why the hell are these guys sitting in Civilization dressed like combat soldiers?
This is not what neighborhood cops should look like. Ever. And if they were some special team, they should have been out doing their special things and not making a coffee house look like a war zone.
So that was Friday, November 21st. Tamir Rice was shot the next day four and a half miles away after Officer Timothy Loehmann dithered for less than two seconds over whether or not to open fire on him with a gun paid for by Clevelanders.
My Friday and Tamir's Saturday are completely unrelated and completely related. I don't know why, but I know it is so. Maybe you, dear reader, can figure it out for me. In the meantime, all I can do is sigh and invite you to read a touching personal essay about Tamir Rice penned by a former teacher.
|photo by Bob Perkoski|
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