Letâ€™s Play Pit!
By: Patti Bankson
When our family was on the road singing, the kids and I often whiled away the time and the miles playing â€œPitâ€, a card game about commodities trading. It was wild, raucous and a lot of fun … for us. For some reason, from where our driver/husband/dad sat, it wasnâ€™t fun … it was just very, very loud!
Many in our society play a â€œgameâ€ that could also be called â€œPitâ€. But their version gets its title from various groups being pitted against one another, not from the trading floor. Come on … Youâ€™ll see what I mean when we watch them â€œplayâ€ the new â€œPitâ€!
One example of this dangerous and destructive â€œgameâ€ pits the citizens against the police. Usually the bad guys are the lawbreaking citizens. But sometimes, itâ€™s the other way around, as seems to be the case in a deadly incident last November in Queens, NY.
Sean Bell and two friends were leaving his bachelor party at a strip club where police had been conducting an undercover operation. The wedding was to be later that day. But before he would face his bride-to-be, he would face undercover police who thought one of his friends had a gun. When the three young men were leaving in Bellâ€™s car, Bell clipped an undercover officer who fired at them; he said he identified himself as a police officer before he fired. Bellâ€™s car then struck an unmarked minivan with more undercover officers inside, some of whom also fired shots. 5 officers. 50 shots. Sean Bell dead; his two friends injured, one shot 19 times. No gun was found, although allegedly, a third friend left the scene with a gun. Heâ€™s not been found, either.
A grand jury indictment, unsealed Monday, charged Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora, who fired 31 times and 11 times respectively, with felony manslaughter and assault. A third Detective, Marc Cooper, who fired 4 shots, was charged with misdemeanor endangerment.
The head of the NYC detectivesâ€™ union wasnâ€™t happy about the indictments, saying, â€œThe message being sent by the indictments will have a chilling effect; not only on NYC detectives and NYC police, but law enforcement through-out the country.â€ Although I believe police have a scary, dangerous job in which they have to make life-and-death decisions based on unknowns, in the time it takes to inhale, from what I know of this case, I disagree. At the same time, I donâ€™t do their job every day, so I canâ€™t really know what itâ€™s like to walk in their shoes.
The one thing I can know is what itâ€™s like to walk in my own shoes. If I drank (which I donâ€™t, but used to), and I were leaving a bar in the wee hours, I remember those days well enough to know that the chances would be good â€“ unfortunately â€“ that I wouldnâ€™t be sober enough to not hit someone or something. But whether I drink or not, the world being what it is today, Iâ€™d think at least twice before Iâ€™d stop my car for a stranger who says heâ€™s a police officer. Heâ€™s undercover … dressed like everyone else… doesnâ€™t look like a cop. Unmarked car … could be anybodyâ€™s … doesnâ€™t look like a police cruiser.
Iâ€™d say I could be in serious trouble. Could have 19 bullet holes in me. Could be dead.
Patti Bankson invites your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2007 Patti Bankson
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