Wendy Brown said the children were “just playing” Saturday in Shaker Heights, Ohio, when police were called.
“We encourage them to go outside and just be kids, so they were just playing football out in the street like they do any other time,” Brown said. “I don’t know the cop’s name, but he came to me and said, ‘I don’t know who would do it, but someone called police on the kids, they said they were playing in the street so we came by.’ And he said, ‘We used to play in the street as kids.'”
Brown captured the scene on her cell phone as the responding officers joined in the game.
“If we didn’t have the three gentlemen that came over to check on them, it could’ve gone way worse,” she said.
With tensions high and a renewed nationwide debate about race and the police following the death of George Floyd, it’s false narratives that could put officers and the community they serve in danger. Last month, a white woman in New York’s Central Park threatened to call police on a Black man after he asked her to leash her dog in an area of the park where leashing was mandatory. This adds to the list of white people siccing the police on people of color for mundane reasons.
South Euclid, Ohio, police officer Joe DiLillo, who was not one of the responding officers Saturday, says he has been on the force for 15 years and the kids in his city know him simply as Officer Joe. He said he often picks up a game of basketball with young boys.
“I’ve never punched anybody, kicked anybody, stabbed anybody, shot anybody. Most officers go their entire careers without doing so,” DiLillo said. “They recognized me, I recognized them and they asked me to come out of the car and talk with them a little bit, rub elbows, and then join them in a game of basketball, which I was happy to do.”
Over the weekend, DiLillo and South Euclid’s police chief joined hundreds in a peaceful protest against police brutality stemming from the Minneapolis police killing of Floyd.
DiLillo said more positive images like a game of pickup basketball are needed now more than ever.
“Nobody hates bad cops more than good cops, and it’s unfortunate because there are so many hardworking police officers in this country who go to work every day and want to do good,” DiLillo said.
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