One day, in my neighborhood Facebook group, a neighbor posted the following:
I unfortunately witnessed a mugging in broad daylight around 720pm tonight of a nice couple at Lyman and Harvard. Broad daylight. The thief’s took their phones and his wallet and the male victim reported they pulled a silver gun. I was driving eastbound on Harvard from Harvey when I had a weird feeling when I noticed a young black man in a red jersey on the corner, looking around a lot. I’d findout 10 seconds later he was the watcher for the crime. At Lyman 2 other young black men had already mugged the couple.
As you can imagine, there was a very involved thread with my neighbors going back and forth: one side thanking him for his dilligent post, while the other side to explain how dangerous these type of posts are for their fellow Black neighbors. After seeing the exchange, I wrote the following PSA. I hope you will read and consider it, next time you want to post a “crime watch” on social media.
For those who don’t follow, there was a great thread yesterday meant to educate on the proper way to post about crime in a way that keeps us vigilant, but doesn’t endanger the lives of your neighbors. In case some of you all don’t read through, I wanted to highlight a couple of the comments that I hope will educate you.
“I’m only providing a description so people know who to look out for”
“Black Man” is not a description, especially in a neighborhood as diverse as oak park and Berwyn. A description would be “a black man, in his early 30s, wearing a hat, sunglasses, jogging pants, no mustache, and a buzz cut with a medium build.”
“You should give as much details as you have in the police report”
Posting a crime PSA on a community facebook group is NOT the same as filing a police report. The PSA is for people to be vigilant and informed. A PSA saying watch out for black men does NOT help the community be vigilant. It contributes to suspicion of their black neighbors doing innocent things like going for a run with a red jersey on.
“Mistaken Identity is an isolated incident”
Incorrect. There are several men and women behind bars right now because of an “eyewitness” report of nothing more than “a black man in their 30s.” You can watch Just Mercy or 13th on Netflix to learn more about this. You can also watch an episode of America To Me to see an incident that happened to one of our 5th grade teachers several years ago.
“He was just trying to do his part as a member of the community. His did not have bad intent and we shouldn’t attack him”.
No we should not attack him, but we can’t continue to allow dangerous posts to go up. As one neighbor said so well “Well thank goodness my black son wasn’t wearing a red shirt today! Just a couple blocks away. Thanks to this ignorant post, he could have been another statistic. How many times do we have to keep going over how dangerous these kind of posts are? Unbelievable…”
If you have more questions, please message me and I’m happy to be the resource in this group to educate. Until you’ve had a brother, son, husband, or father, mistreated because they “matched” a description due to the color of their skin (and nothing else), then you will never fully understand the danger.