Racism, violence, defending your honor and the impact for a bystander.

On my way home from the airport, I decided take out chinese and cold beer sounded good.  Although my “stay-cation” started Wednesday, I spent Thursday through Sunday at a weekend educational event.  So Sunday evening had the feeling I was really ready to start my time off.  I was looking for a relaxing evening, a chance to wind down.

I approached the liquor store and noticed a man struggling to get his shirt on.  As I was opening the door a lit cigarette butt flew out onto the street.  It struck me odd, that he would be in such a hurry.  I was looking for the rest of the story.  Do you know our brains seek those connections and try to make meaning.  I quickly realized who this person was, he was now aggressively addressing two individuals in line to purchase.  He was threatening them, “Come, on, let’s take it outside”, “you two Mother-F’s think you can mess with me”.  I paused because I was so shocked, someone ahead of the two he was addressing, loudly stated to the aggresor “not, in the store”.

The two being taunted were Asians, the aggressor was at least a foot taller, and maybe even 100 pounds more.  I didn’t have my phone, so I asked the first person I saw.  I know the non-emergency number for our County, I didn’t call 911.  I did ask for an officer to respond, based on what I was observing.  It seemed the Asians would be assaulted as soon as they left the building.

Over hearing my conversation was Ms. Aggressor.  She went to Mr. and tried getting him away, which only seemed to fuel it.  Then she came back to me to scold me for calling, saying he was a fly and wouldn’t hurt anyone.  I responded, “ya, right, I’m frightened right now, that’s not how a fly acts”.  She wanted to get verbally aggressive with me, I ignored her.  Took my beer and moved towards the line.  The Asians are paying, Mr & Mrs Aggresor and me.

The interactions were escalating the aggressor was using really racial slurs at the Asians, it was completely inappropriate.  It was so far beyond the realm of anything I get to see or be apart of.  I was just hoping beyond hope, to see the uniform, the guy with the gun (the police).

All of a sudden, a push, and one of the smaller men grabbed a bottle of booze off the counter and put all he had into clocking the aggressor over the head!  The two fled out (they even picked up the case of beer aggressor was going to buy).  I’ve never seen a man go out and down like that.  That nearly 200 pound boy went straight on his back, and sat up covered with blood.  Girlfriend is screaming, I’m the one right there, so now the guy I despised becomes the guy I am helping.

I am looking her in the eye, telling her, calm, down, breathe, its gonna be ok.  I had a cut like this on my head.  I know you are worried.  To him, let me hold this on your head, just stay seated, you will be fine.  On an on.  Between the guy yelling he is gonna kill them, to him being calm, to him yelling he just wants to leave, to yelling he is gonna kill him.  I tell her not to drive and get a DWI.  He gives me his wallet, telling me he “isn’t supposed to be here”.  I don’t know if that means he has a warrant, is on probation, what.  I wait for the police.  People buying booze and asking what happened.  I tell one of the cashiers to call again!  The guy says no, I say yes, the kid says he doesn’t know what to do.  I talk to him in my Mom voice: “Go in the cooler and call, listen to the person not bleeding!”.

The guy has a gash on his head, I am sure 2- 2 1/2 inches long, and the swelling looks like an egg under the skin.  His blood is on my palm, from the paper towel compress I had on his head.  He just wants to go have a cigarette, I give up arguing with the brainiac and we continue to wait for police.  The ambulance and police show up.  Now I transition from reacting to responding.  I start to tease with the clerks and we process what happened.  One of the kids is from my daughters school.  I say “I’m Kylie’s Mom”, he says, “ya, I know, and restorative justice”, we laugh about that one.  Then, I realize, I have to get this jerks blood off of me.  I ask a medic for a wipe.  Girlfriend is out there dropping things, all stressed out.  I help her get her fiance’s drivers license to the police.  Tell her she no longer needs to carry a bag of melting ice and bloody paper towels.  I want to make my statement as soon as possible, get home.

My evening is shot, instead of getting to the chinese take out in 10 minutes, it took me an hour.  I relate the story to my kid, my friend and I can’t stop thinking about it.  I decide I shouldn’t have bought the beer.  I feel bad for all involved.  The guy heard them say something outside, that made him mad, to act like that.  They responded to his threats.  It was racist, and violent and I couldn’t shake what I had experienced I wanted to just forget about it.  It kept going on replay in my head.  I thought of the theories of violence and that people act like that to defend their honor.  I thought of a fellow PhD student, hours earlier we had been talking about the social norms for gun violence, how different one community is from another.  This violence in Prescott is NOT the norm. 

I put it all through my restorative justice filter.  I doubt they will ever catch the two that did the assault.  The aggressor is even more racist than before.  In my mind, he was wrong, however, no one deserves a bottle to the head.   A crazy way to end my trip and start my vacation.  However, have I got a story for a future Circle!