Last night one of our ministry vans was broken into. Thanks to a neighbor's awareness the damage done was fairly minimal before the two young guys were scared off. So much for the security of a club, because she spotted them walking down the block with the van club in-hand. Then as she returned from the corner market she saw them back in the van and scared them off. They managed to take the club, jack the driver's side key lock and completely remove the key lock in the steering column.
This would seem like the interesting story, but car break-ins really aren't that unusual around here. What was interesting to me was the encounter with the Crime Lab Technician who came to dust for fingerprints (none were found, however).
Andrew, myself, and another staff member, Gil, were waiting outside with the police officer handling the case when the Crime Lab van pulled up in front of World Impact. As the technician stepped out onto the street and looked up to see three white faces looking back at him, he exclaimed, "What are YOU doing here?!"
This is a question we've heard many times from police officers in the area, but maybe none have asked it with such force. We made small conversation with him while he dusted the door and steering wheel for finger prints. We told him we lived close by and worked at World Impact. He didn't seem too taken by our explanations and still had a look on his face that reinforced his previous insinuations.
It was what he said next that was most impacting from the whole evening. As he dusted the door with flashlight in hand he started in with, "There's a million different ways they could've gotten the club off. They've got 24 hours a day to think of ways. They couldn't spell CAT if you spotted them the 'C' and the 'T'. If they would only use their ingenuity towards something positive..." He continued with his stereotyping and oversimplifying and I found myself getting a little tense and feeling defensive.
Granted, figuring out ways to get a club off a car is not a positive use of one's time. However, I wanted to say, "If they can't spell CAT it's probably because our screwed up, non-accredited school system didn't teach them anything!" Or, "Maybe they are just like people everywhere in the world, who when faced with decisions to do the hard thing or the easy thing, just do the easy thing because it's what they know."
No doubt this officer is a nice man with good intentions, who has been jaded by his years of work on the streets, but his obvious ignorance to some of the real issues in our community and the blatant stereotyping saddened me. And I know that there are many in our neighborhood who would throw back stereotypes with equal force about crooked cops. I was struck with the depth of the chasm between cultures...still...in this day and age of political correctness. There is so much misunderstanding and so much lack of effort to cross the seemingly stone-carved barriers on both sides.
All day today that incident has left it's heavy trail throughout my thoughts. Last night, as I watched him back up his van, flip on the police lights and head off to a murder scene in another section of town I was left with the feeling that society (including all sides) as a whole is OK with just doing damage control and it burdens my heart with how far we have yet to go to bridge the gaps, to have justice for all, to see all men as equal.
We continue to pray peace, renewal, and revival over our city for all its inhabitants.