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Black boys, men ponder avoiding becoming the next hashtag

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In this July 6, 2016, photo, a teen views a recording of the fatal police involved shooting in Louisiana, during a weekly mentoring meeting at The Bridge, a youth intervention and diversion program in Philadelphia. A group of black boys met with their mentors in Philadelphia to discuss one of the latest incidents at the start of what would be a week of violence ending with two black men dead and five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper.

PHILADELPHIA >> Javon Grant has come up with a plan for what to do should he cross paths with a police officer: Get as far away as possible.

“People are getting shot every day,” says Javon, 14. “I’ll walk on the other side of the street. I will run. I don’t know what they’re gonna do.”

The impact of the constant drumbeat of police shootings of black men and boys — many of them unarmed and killed at the hands of white officers — has left many black youngsters wondering how they can keep from becoming the next social media hashtag.

Javon and his peers are coming of age in the era of Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis and Michael Brown. They do not know if they will be next.

At the start of what would be a week of violence ending with two black men shot dead by police on video and five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper, a group of black boys met with their mentors in Philadelphia in an intervention and diversion program where they learn critical thinking, accountability, goal-setting and other skills. Together, they watched a video of Alton Sterling, who was shot several times Tuesday while being held down by Baton Rouge police officers in front of a convenience store where he was selling CDs.

Slouched in his chair in jeans, a black T-shirt and a pair of Michael Jordan Nike sneakers, Javon shook his head and sat quietly, staring ahead for several moments before speaking.

“He was just trying to hustle,” he said. “He was probably selling CDs because he can’t get no job. That’s messed up.”

And it reinforced his plan to distance himself from law enforcement as a way to stay alive.

Across the room, Nahkai Wright nodded. “I gotta make sure I don’t die.”

“Stay out of their way, that’s what I think about,” said Nahkai, a soft-spoken 15-year-old. “Be ready to leave.”

The boys and their mentors, mostly black men, discussed the shootings and those that preceded it, without surprise and with little expectation of fairness or change.

Xavier Revell is 15 but with his frame, he could be mistaken for a young man. It’s an error that has cost other black teenage boys. A 2014 study published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded that black boys as young as 10 are more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime.

“Cops be making mistakes all the time,” Xavier said before telling a story about a time his older brother had been stopped by police because of how he looked. “I try to keep cool. If the cops come, keep my mouth closed. Say, ‘Yes sir, no sir.’ If they put their hands on you, don’t attack …”

Javon interrupts.

“That’s how some of them end up dead,” he said. “They don’t do nothing.”

Present in the room was an understanding the burden was on them — not the police — to preserve their lives, even as they pondered how little control they felt in such an exchange.

“I’ve never got time to get pulled over, but I always have time to survive,” said Joseph Douglas, 41, one of the mentors. “The more I talk, the greater chance I got that something bad is going to happen to me. My thing is: ‘How can I get this cop away from me as fast as possible? What can I do to minimize this interaction?’”

Vince Carter agreed. The 32-year-old black man said he has been stopped numerous times by police while driving in Philadelphia. At times, his frustration threatens to get the best of him.

“There’s been some cases where I was already not in the mood,” Carter said. “I always think about the larger picture.”

Some of the mentors said their role is to impart their experience to save lives.

“In their mind, it’s like, ‘I’m right, and I’m going to stand on this principle if I gotta die,’” said Reuben Jones, a program mentor. “They’re so adamant … It puts in perspective why so many young black men are dying.”

For some black men, that can mean swallowing their pride to get through the moment, a lesson that often comes with age.

“They need to know how to live today, while we try to figure out what things we can change in the future,” Douglas said. “They need to be able to have an encounter with a police officer and walk away alive.”

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  • This is all nonsense. If they would behave reasonable and smart none of these bad things would happen. Like: You don’t run away from a cop, you don’t argue or question orders or show aggressive demeanor, you don’t put hands in your pockets where there might be a weapon, you answer politely and agreeable.

      • you know what. Philando Castile was stopped for violations 54 times in a 14 year period! which resulted in 80+ misdemeanor violations. OMG and he still had a permit to carry a firearm? smh. He was a Good boy no doubt and just did not follow da rulez. I wonder how many times the cops stopped him with no violations to hand out to him.

        • somethings wrong, I get my safety check done every year. Does Minnesota have yearly safety checks?

        • Hay, we have the second amendment which republicans have interpreted to mean that even terrorists have a right to buy a gun.

        • Hey Boots, stop the polarization and stop bringing politics into the picture. It is people like you that cause people to take drastic actions.

    • Exactly! It’s too bad that the media don’t say what you said. Yes, there are a few bad cops and they absolutely should be punished. But what’s a cop to do if a person swears, threatens, runs away. I guess the “new” cop will just let it go and drive away. It’s not worth seeking justice for the community.

      • Define few? Seems like it is a common occurrence where cops kill young black men. Fact is there is a lot of racism and disgust towards the less fortunate in many police departments in this nation. Be glad if you are not black or poor.

        • Define “common occurance”. Your last sentence would have your bud Kladtri on you like frosting on a cake!

        • Keonigohan – I think it’s bizarre that you think about me so often and mention me so often in your postings. Like every day. Not a lot more bizarre about other things you are obsessed with, but this is personal.

          I never think about you. Not ever. Not even once.

      • MOST of those shot dead by cops just failed to follow simple laws and rules. If they would not have acted stupid they might be alive today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0mtxXEGE8
        What Chris mentions in his video applies to every race! Cops already have a trigger happy twitch and the last thing ANYONE should do is to put themselves in a situation where the cop fears for his life and shoots you dead. Just follow these rules and the odds of getting shot dead drop drastically irrespective of race.

      • right, you don’t argue with cops or you may get shot! People still haven’t learned, just from reading I understand to do as the cop says. They do me wrong and I’ll sue them up the Ying and Yang.

        • Just follow Chris Rock’s YouTube advice, “How not to get your a@@ kicked by the police.” It’s so funny because it’s true.

      • Funny these same guys like pocho keoni condemn HPD and Kealoha then defend mainland cops shooting people dead? Weird. In Hawaii people keep their wallet and ID in the glove,under the seat,etc. I’m afraid I might get shot if I reach for it.

    • Exactly what my parents taught me, and what my scoutmaster taught me, and exactly what my Navy Chief Petty Officer taught me. And I grew if pin the days that if you ran from the police… they shot at you. Pays to be polite and follow instructions.

  • These sympathizers writing articles don’t understand that most victims don’t have respect for the law. I’m not saying “all” but most and you have to wonder if it’s missing they are like that because of having no father figure or the upbringing. How can they be so worried about cops when there’s a whole lot more black on black shootings in Chicago and the likes.

      • Blame Obama, blame the liberals. No, I blame people like Keonigohan for fueling all the hatred, bigotry, and murder with guns, which is escalating and happening more often

        • Actually all police departments condemn the “carry law”. This make their job harder because not all people are sane. That U.S.army veteran that shot those Dallas officers obtain his weapons in gun toting Texas. All legal. It was an attack on government. It was an attack on our country. Like the daily attacks on our government and and country via vicious comments on out POTUS. For shame.

    • Well the counter argument can be that most cops have little or no respect for Blacks or the poor. I don’t know if most cops don’t have respect but obviously a lot have no respect for Blacks. I mean that person who had all those police officers on top of him was still shot because he supposedly had a gun? Where oh where is the NRA and their defense of this person’s right to bear arms? But no, just silence. Just love those hypocrites.

      • It’s hard for the cops to respect a group that chants, “Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon,” and that revile them in the same manner liberals spat on Vietnam vets. Respect is a two-way street. Defending a neighborhood that doesn’t really want you there can’t be easy. It’s a fine line they walk when protecting a group that hates them and considers all of them guilty.

    • It all comes down to …R E S P E C T….which society has been lacking in the last 10+ years. No longer taught in the home which is reflected in the public.

      • True roxie, I see so much D I S R E S P E C T for our current president. One has to wonder if it’s because he’s the first “different kine” president?

  • Yikes, I wonder if Hawaii’s African Americans are upset over the articles header?
    Black Boys! Yikes, I’m not of the African American race but I do take that term as a racist remark! Oh boy!

  • What an irresponsible article to suggest that the appropriate action is to run from a cop. One news channel reported that there were tens of thousands killed each year and that less than a hundred were killed by cops.

  • Police have always been on the frontline of maintaining white supremacy in America. Police power has been used to “keep Blacks in their place” for centuries. This is why Blacks are accosted by police if they happen to wander into an all-white neighborhood. But things are changing. America has entered a transitionary period in which white supremacy is being increasingly challenged due to profound demographic changes. This transitionary period will last several decades, but at the end, white supremacy will be replaced by racial equality. During this transitionary period, forces that want to perpetuate and eliminate white supremacy will clash violently in isolated instances, but I doubt if there will an outright race war. American democratic institutions will prevent an all-out conflict. Luckily, Hawaii has already completed this transition and is therefore exempt from the racial violence on the Mainland perpetrated by police trying to perpetuate white supremacy, or non-white civilians trying to end it. Lucky you live Hawaii!

    • When you have a President who come to grips of what’s happening in his home State how could you expect his followers to believe what’s before their own eyes? It’s baffling

      • Obama’s home State of Hawaii is a blend of Aloha. This is why he became president. His demeanor and intelligence proves this. It’s the outsiders that posses the h8 baggage they bring.

  • “I’ll walk on the other side of the street. I will run. I don’t know what they’re gonna do.”, “Stay out of their way, that’s what I think about,”

    Those are the same thoughts that non-blacks and non-hispanics think when they are in Harlem, South Central L.A., East L.A., Chicago slums, etc.

    There is fear on both sides most everywhere in the U.S. It is not one just one-sided. The most we can hope for is that everyone keeps their emotions in check and not resort to violence to vent their frustrations.

  • seems their first idea of surviving a police encounter is to run. that just escalates what was a police stop to a police chase and increases the tension and danger of the encounter.

  • They don’t talk about why Police are more likely to use force with them. If you look, walk and talk like a gang banger, you’re basically stereotyping yourself and will be treated accordingly by police.
    Cops don’t want to get shot any more than black men do.

    • So say is saying they need to dress like tennis preppies? That that don’t have the right to wear hip hop styles? Yes, you guys are communist.

  • Running is definitely not the right course of action. It will surely get you shot. Moving to the other side of the street, means you’re probably trying to hide something. Again, you get shot. Stay at home, like the rest of us including whites and other races. The police definitely are not the only threat on the streets.

  • The long hot summer is upon us and racial tensions are exploding again. This time, the great “equalizer” is in the hands of anyone who wants one. The gun. Folks on all sides, who before, had to endure perceived insults and prejudice, now can retaliate on their own. They believe they’re right until the other side also retaliates. ISIS needn’t worry about instigating terror in the U.S. because there already is an internal race war brewing.

  • More black people kill black people everyday but no groups to figure out how to prevent that from happening? I do agree that the country has had too many suspicious deaths at the hand of cops and things need to change but not sure this group is teaching the right values? Avoid, don’t talk, run away??? I think it should be; be respectful, follow instructions and don’t give any indication of confrontation or aggressiveness and most times the interaction will work out. Is there racial profiling, absolutely and we need to change that.

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