Finding Good Trouble

Chapter 3

"Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America."    -The Honorable John Lewis speaking atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 1, 2020


I entered my house and slammed the door shut. I was furious over what I had seen earlier. I was also angry that the police officer had confiscated my phone. He said I could pick it up tomorrow, but I wouldn’t have my phone tonight. If they don’t give me my phone back, they’ll have to arrest me because I’m going to burn down the police precinct if they don’t.

I went upstairs to my room and turned on my computer. After changing from my school clothes into a pair of sweats, I sat down at my computer desk and opened my Facebook page. I wanted to see if the video of the arrest had downloaded. Not only had it downloaded, but I had also received over 90 comments, and 64 people had shared it.

I quickly scanned the comments section. I was appalled by what I read. Most found the arrest funny. They thought it was hilarious the way Andrews had taken the black guy to the ground and kicked him.

‘Nigger got what he deserved,’ said one comment. ‘Should have done what the cop told him to do.’

‘Police Lives Matter,’ read another.

‘That will teach them to stay out of Somerset,’ said another. ‘Go back to the ghetto where you belong.’

I stopped reading. I couldn’t take anymore. I couldn’t believe that people had watched a young black guy being tasered, and then being kicked in the face and body. Andrews’ racial slurs were also clear and understandable. However, most people who saw the video thought it was funny and proper conduct. I deleted all the comments, and I clicked on the option to refuse access to leave a comment or share the video. I didn’t want to delete the video. I wanted people to see what had happened. I wanted people to be as angry as me, but apparently most were not.

I wanted my phone. I was curious if any of my friends were trying to call me. Although, I’m sure Dan would call and make a big joke of it. If he did, I probably would have cussed and told him to ‘go fuck yourself!’

I wasn’t in the mood for any of this. Before the weekend basketball game, things were going along fine. School was just school. I was getting ready to graduate in the spring, and then I was going to college. I have already been accepted to one school. I was still waiting on an acceptance letter from another. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. My parents wanted me to go into medicine, like my dad. However, I was thinking of business. I took a business class last year, and Mr. Kelly kept talking about how much we could earn. I wanted to ask him if he could make so much money in the business sector, why was he teaching at a high school.

Now, however, race was being pushed into our faces. What is so bad about being white? Can’t we live in our part of town, and they live in theirs. Okay, I guess that sounds really racist. Until this weekend, I never thought about how life is outside of Somerset. I know when I go to college, I’ll probably be around a lot of different people. I don’t mind that. I don’t care what color someone’s skin is. I just wish they didn’t keep telling us how racist we are because we are white. I mean, all white people aren’t racists, are we?

It isn’t like we’ve been living under a rock. Since the first grade, we have been taught to respect all people. I remember in first grade the teacher handing me a brown crayon and telling me to make sure I color some of the characters brown. Then, I didn’t know why. I guess it was our first introduction to not being a racist.

All through school, we were given books with black characters and black authors. I remember reading a book in the seventh grade called Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The teacher, Mrs. Abbott, spent a lot of time talking about the evils of slavery. I understand how horrible slavery was, but didn’t that end with the Civil War? I don’t see how that affects my life. People don’t own slaves today. Right?

In my government class this year, Mrs. Wells is teaching us about the Constitution. Last week, she was telling us how slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment. So, I know we don’t have slavery anymore. She also talked about the 14th Amendment. She says it gives everyone equal rights. So, what is the big fuss? I don’t understand it. If everyone has equal rights, then why did Andrews treat the black guy so mean, when the other cop came over to my car and was nice to me? Shouldn’t we both have been treated the same way? Maybe the black guy who talk to us in the assembly was right. Maybe cops do treat black people differently.

I jumped when I heard the back door slam downstairs. I looked at the clock. It was too early for my parents to be home. I rushed to the door and listened. I was afraid that someone had broken into the house.

I then saw my dad stomping up the stairs. He looked angry. “Parker!” he shouted when he saw me peeking out of my door. “I want to talk to you!”

I hurried over and sat at my computer desk. I quickly exited my Facebook page before he noticed it. He entered and stood before me and shouted, “What in the hell did you do today?”

I grew nervous and replied, “I didn’t do nothing, Dad.”

“Nothing!” he roared. “Then why has my phone not stopped ringing all afternoon about some goddamned video you posted on Facebook?”

I didn’t know how to respond. How could I begin to explain what happened? “Well?” he shouted. “I’m waiting. Show me the video everyone is talking about.”

I opened my Facebook page and stood up. He sat down and opened the video. He sat quietly and watched the 48-second video without saying anything. When it ended, it surprised me when he replayed it. He then turned, looked up at me and muttered, “Jesus Christ.”

All I could think to say was, “I’m sorry, Dad.”

He asked, “Why are you sorry, Son?”

“I thought you were mad because I taped it and put it on Facebook.”

“Why would that make me mad?”

“I dunno,” I shrugged. “I thought you might think what everyone else is thinking.”

“What is everyone else thinking?”

“They think Andrews did the right thing,” I replied sadly.

My dad rose and started pacing around the room. He stopped, stared at me and said angrily, “You thought I would support this shit?” He started pacing around the room. “Do you think for one minute that I would think what that cop did to that black kid was okay?”

I mumbled, “I don’t know what to think anymore.”

He stood before me and said quietly, “Look at me, Parker.” I looked up as tears welled in my eyes. “I’m a heart surgeon,” he continued. “When I open a person’s chest, I don’t give a goddamn what color the patient is. They can be white, black, yellow or purple. It doesn’t matter. I don’t ask if they are straight or gay, Protestant, Catholic or Jew. When I’m working on their hearts, they all look the same.”

I looked over at the monitor where Andrews is kicking the black guy in the face. “So, this is wrong?”

Dad sighed and replied, “Did you just hear what I said?” I nodded. He pointed to the monitor. “Of course, this is wrong.”

“Dad,” I said, “A cop took my phone. I need to get it back.”

His face reddened in anger. “Why?” I explained how Andrews had told another officer to get my phone because he saw me with my phone videoing what was happening.

“Get dressed,” he ordered.


“We’re going down the precinct and get your goddamn phone,” he said angrily. “Chief Morgan better be able to explain all this.” He looked at the screen again and stormed out of my room.

Dad was quiet on the way to the police station. Normally, he always has a lot to say about anything. I sometimes think that because his job is so stressful and depressing, he takes the opportunity to talk about brighter things.

We’ve always had a good relationship. When I was little, he and Mom took me on the weekends to amusement parks and zoos. We would hold hands and enjoy the day being a family. I think it was his way of releasing stress. They always attended parent meetings in school. I never disappointed them because I do everything I could to make them proud of me.

When I came out at thirteen, I was afraid they wouldn’t accept me. However, they rallied around me and gave me unconditional support. Because of that, I was able to deal with being gay. We discuss it at the dinner table. Mom is disappointed because I’ve never started dating. When I go with a friend to see a movie, she will laugh and ask me if he is the one. I think one of the reasons I don’t date is because I’m afraid she will embarrass me if I do.

When we arrived at the station, Dad got out of the car, and I nervously followed him into the station. My dad is a very well-respected man in Somerset, and he doesn’t like people disagreeing with him. I was afraid what might happen when he confronted Chief Morgan. He went up to the reception desk and politely asked to speak to the chief. The officer on duty made a phone call, and a minute later Morgan entered the lobby.

“Jonathan,” he said cheerfully as he held out his hand for Dad to shake.

My Dad ignored him and replied, “You took my boy’s phone, Harold. I want it returned to him.”

Morgan stammered, “Jonathan, right now it’s evidence in a case.”

“I don’t give a goddamn what it is,” Dad shouted. “Give my boy back his phone.”

“You do know that he videoed an arrest this afternoon, don’t you?”

“You mean that beating your office gave that young man?” spat my father.

Morgan replied nervously, “He assaulted one of my officers.”

“Bullshit!” shouted my father. A couple of officers entered the lobby. I was afraid they were going to arrest my dad. “That young man didn’t do a thing but try to keep your officer from kicking the shit out of him.”

“Now, Jonathan,” pleaded Morgan. “We can’t let this get out of hand. Somerset is already under a lot of pressure because of what happened in the gym this weekend.”

“That’s not my problem,” replied my dad. He pointed to me. “I got my son here who is upset because one of your officers took his phone away from him. If I’m not mistaken, you just violated his first amendment right without getting a search warrant first.”

“We didn’t violate anyone’s right,” insisted Morgan.

“Bullshit!” spat my father. “This whole episode has been a clusterfuck, Harold. You beat that young man without a reason, and then you confiscated my son’s phone without a warrant.”

“He attacked my officer,” responded Morgan. “It’s on your boy’s video.”

“I watched that video,” replied my father. “That young man wasn’t doing anything when your officer tased him. And what about that language he was using? That was disgusting. I think you should take his badge.”

“Now, Jonathan,” pleaded Morgan. “Let’s go into my office and discuss this like reasonable men.”

My dad asked, “What did that young man do to get pulled over?”

Morgan replied, “The police report said he made an illegal change of lanes.”

My father became terribly upset. “You mean he got beat because he didn’t turn on his turn signal when he switched lanes?”

“Well,” stammered Morgan, “It is a driving infraction. I would pull you over if I saw you do it.”

“Bullshit!” spat my dad. “You would not, and you know it.”

Morgan looked around at the growing crowd that was gathering in the lobby. I looked over and noticed the black man who had spoken earlier at the assembly.

Dad held out his hand, “I want my son’s phone, Harold. If you don’t give it to me now, I’m going to get an attorney and sue the shit out of you.”

“Jonathan,” pleaded Morgan as he looked around. “Let’s discuss this in my office.”

Dad continued to hold out his hand, “Now, Harold.”

Morgan sighed and left the room. When he left, the black man approached my father and handed him a business card. “I’m Pastor Darnell Moore,” he informed him. “The young man who got arrested this afternoon is my son, Darius.” He looked over at me. “I would like to talk to your son about what he saw.”

Dad looked at me and then turned to Pastor Moore. “I’ll arrange for that to happen,” he said. “However, I would first like to discuss it with my attorney.”

“I understand,” replied Pastor Moore. “My number is on the card. Please call me when you’re ready.” He reached out and shook my father’s hand before walking away.

Minutes later, Chief Morgan entered the lobby carrying my phone. He angrily handed it to Dad. “We’ve recorded what was on it,” he said. “Don’t delete anything,” he warned. “I’ll be getting a warrant to seize it later.” He turned and stormed out of the lobby.

On the way to the car, Dad handed me my phone. I quickly checked to see if the police had removed my video, but they hadn’t. I’m not sure they thought I would come for it so soon or they might have. I also checked my messages, and I had received thirty-three. I didn’t check to see who they were from. I wanted to wait until I got to my room.

Dad was unusually quiet as he drove. I thought he would say something to me about the incident, but he didn’t. I just assumed he was going to wait until dinner when Mom could hear what he had to say.

Mom was home when we arrived. She was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Dad told me to go to my room while he went into the kitchen. I could hear him talking softly as I climbed the stairs. I walked over and plopped down in my bed. After toeing off my shoes, I lay down and opened my phone. I now had thirty-eight text messages and three calls.

As I suspected, Dan had messaged me four times. Each of them said the same thing: WTF Dude? What happened?” He also left a phone message, but I didn’t bother to answer it. Pete, Stephen and Jeremy had texted me. Like Dan, they wanted to know what was going on. Jeremy said that the dude got what he deserved. I deleted his message. As I was reading my other messages, the phone rang. It was Natalie.

“Hey,” I said.

She asked, “Did you really video that?”

I giggled and replied, “I’m doing fine. How are you?”

“Asshole,” she muttered. “No, seriously. Did you really tape that beating?”

“Yeah,” I said. I then told her how I had witnessed Andrews beating the black guy and the police taking my phone.

“They can’t do that,” she said angrily. I told her how my dad had become upset and went to the police station to get it back.

“They threatened to get a warrant and take it,” I informed her.

“Fuckers,” she replied.

She spent the next few minutes telling me how everyone was talking about the video. She went to the mall after school, and she said every store she went into people were discussing it. “Bastards,” she said angrily. “Half the people talking about it were happy he got beaten. Someone actually said he got what he deserved. If he had stayed on his side of town, it wouldn’t have happened.”

I laughed and replied, “And I’m sure you had to say something.”

“Of course,” she said. “I ripped her a new asshole. The clerk told me to leave the store. Can you believe it? She told me to get out!”

“I don’t know what is going to happen,” I replied worriedly. “Ever since the basketball game, things haven’t been the same.”

“That’s because a big scab has been removed,” she answered.

“Big scab?”

“Yeah, Parker,” she replied. “It’s happening all over the country. Racism is beginning to rear its ugly head.”

“Racism?” I asked. “I thought we learned in history class that racism died out in the 70’s and 80’s.”

“They lied to us,” she responded. “It didn’t go anywhere. It just festered like a boil, and now the scab has been removed. Just look what has happened here in Somerset the past few days. It’s happening all over the country. Don’t you watch the news?”

“Well, yeah,” I replied, “but I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on.”

“Maybe you should,” she replied sarcastically. “Shit has been happening all over the country, like what happened this afternoon. People have died, Parker.”

I asked, “What are you talking about?”

I heard her sigh. “Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Eric Garner,” she said. “Have you heard of any of them?”

“I’ve heard of George Floyd,” I replied. “Isn’t he the guy the policeman killed with his knee?”

Natalie sighed again. “It’s hopeless, Parker. I gotta go. You’re making me upset.”

“Wait, Natalie,” I shouted into the phone. “Why are you getting mad at me?”

“You have no idea how big this video is, do you?”

“I know it’s bad,” I replied.

“Bad isn’t the word,” she said. “Somerset is going to be swarming with protestors and the media. Once your video hits social media, you’re going to see how bad it is.” She paused and the said, “I have to go. I can’t deal with this anymore tonight.” She hung up the phone.

My phone continued to ring, but I didn’t answer it. After about ten calls, I turned it off. Natalie had scared me. I sat at my computer and googled the name George Floyd. I read about the riots occurred in Minneapolis. I then googled Breonna Taylor, and I read about the protests that followed her killing in Louisville. I read numerous stories about police brutality and shootings. Each of them was followed by days of violence. I was upset when I stopped read.

I became more upset when I returned to my Facebook page and watched the video I had taped earlier. I winced with each kick that Andrews inflicted on the black guy lying on the ground. I looked at the number of shares. It had been shared over 250 times.

I didn’t want to be involved anymore in the horrible incident. However, I knew that was impossible. I was now involved in something much bigger than myself. Natalie had tried to warn me.

I didn’t know what would happen in the next few days. However, if history does repeat itself, then I am sure I will soon find out.

I lay across my bed and tried to fall asleep. But I couldn’t. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw that guy laying on the ground being kicked by Andrews. It upset me because Andrews didn’t even seem to think the guy was human. He was kicking him like a dog. However, I’m sure most people wouldn’t even kick a dog the way he was being kicked.

I just couldn’t understand how one human being could treat another human being that way. I don’t go to church too often, but I’ve been raised with Christian beliefs. I’ve always been taught that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I’m sure Andrews is also a Christian. I’ve seen him a few times on Sunday dressed in a suit coming from church. How then could he treat someone like he did? Maybe I can understand calling someone a name or laughing at a crude joke. We’ve all done that at some time. I know I have. But to kick a man when he’s lying defenseless on the ground? And he wasn’t just kicking at him. He was stomping his boots on him. Anderson was intentionally trying to hurt him. I have no doubt about that. He didn’t see the guy as human.

And that troubles me deeply. I can’t understand how one human being can treat another person that way. No matter how you try to spin it, it still comes out wrong. Even if the guy was trying to get up, did it still justify Andrews to use as much force as he did? But I watched what happened. I videotaped it. The guy was lying on the ground. He was begging Andrews not to hurt him. He had already been tased, so there wasn’t anything he could do.

I rose and sat back down at my desk. I opened my Facebook page, and I watched the video again. This time, tears filled my eyes. I could only imagine how the guy felt when Andrews was kicking him. I recalled seeing him standing earlier in the morning talking into a microphone. I remembered the feelings I had when I saw him. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. Andrews was wrong.

Rage began to consume me. I watched the video one more time. By now, it had been shared over 350 times. I went to my settings and deleted my Facebook page. I didn’t want anyone else to share the horrible video.

I wish I hadn’t videotaped it. However, if I hadn’t then Andrews would have lied about the incident, and everyone would have believed him. Who would believe a young black man over a white cop? I had read enough earlier in my comments to know that the public sides with the law.

I returned to bed, but I didn’t sleep. Three words kept appearing before me: Black Lives Matter. I was beginning to understand what the black guy was yelling at us this morning. Everyone around him had been holding up BLM signs and waving it at us. At the time, I didn’t understand it.

Now I do. He has just as much a right to live a safe and rewarding life as I do. His life matters to me.

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