I always write about the positive and goodness in South Florida. There is plenty of it to talk about. Now I’m compelled to soapbox a bit...
My parents recently had their car professionally driven from up north to my house so they could use it while snow birding. They hired a man who has done this type of work for 17 years with a perfect track record. He also happens to be black.
Ten hours ahead of schedule, the driver arrived to my block around midnight. So as not to wake us, he decided to park in what he thought was our driveway and sleep until morning.
Unfortunately, he had parked about four doors away. Around 4 AM, the homeowner woke up the sleeping well-dressed, senior-aged driver by rapping on the window with a Glock pistol and forced him to "eat dirt" at gunpoint while they interrogated and humiliated him.
After being shown documentation that proved the intended delivery, the homeowner still refused to take the gun away, often saying "I should just shoot you" throughout the ordeal. Eventually, the homeowner used the driver's cell phone to call my number and inquire about the situation. Once I realized what was happening, I told him the driver was legitimate and I’d meet them as soon as I could.
While getting dressed, I called the police for backup. When a gun is drawn, I don't assume anything.
I arrived on-scene first, waving my flashlight down the dark street with the homeowner waving back as I walked towards them. Then, the shadows took shape. My parents' car at the edge of the driveway, driver still being forced to lie on the asphalt, two homeowners standing over him refusing to drop the gun.
Even while I talked things through with the homeowners, they never took the gun off the driver. It was only as the police cars arrived, when the homeowner thought they could be mistaken as a threat, did they drop the gun. Thankfully, everything wound down at that point and no one got hurt.
How could a sleeping man at the edge of a driveway in a car that did not belong to the homeowner become a threat and an excuse to point a gun at someone?! I am embarrassed and outraged that this occurred in my neighborhood.
We should be better than this! Better about guns in the home, better about calling the police when we feel threatened, better about listening to our neighbors, and dare I say better about racial stereotyping.
I was always taught not to judge a book by its cover. On that night, the homeowner’s pre-judgment was wrong, and potentially deadly. A few hours after the incident, the driver and I started to carefully review what had occurred. He is an amazing man not to have lost control and to have shaken it off so soon afterwards. I may take longer to recover…