June 2, 2020
A couple of days after May 24, 2020, the “breaking news” was a white woman who called the cops on a black man in Central Park in New York City. In the video that the black birdwatcher took showed a hysterical white woman fabricating a story about being threatened. Christan Cooper, a black man, had the audacity to ask Amy Cooper (they are not related) to leash her dog. Image a black man asking a white woman to obey the law.
About 20 years ago, I had my “black man in the park with a white woman with a dog story.” You can file this under “microaggression” and “appropriate policing.” It ended with the U.S. Park Police threatening to take the white woman’s dog away from her and locking her up.
I’m fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood that is close to running and walking trails in Rock Creek Park. I was out for my normal run. As is the case, there are dogs unleashed, even though they shouldn’t be. My practice was when a dog approached, I would stop and let the owner and the dog pass. It was no big deal.
One day, I stopped. As usual, the owner and her dog passed. As I began to get back in stride, the dog circled back and bit me.
I confronted the dog’s owner and asked for her contact information. She got indignant. She accused me of harassing her dog and her.
Twenty years ago, there was not widespread use of “cell phones.” So, I backed off and headed back home.
After I got home, I called the U.S. Park Police to report the incident. I needed to be “on record.” Soon an officer arrived at my house and “interviewed me.”
I thought that was going to be the end of it.
The bite was minor. At my visit to the Sibley Hospital Emergency Room, the doctor didn’t think I had anything to worry about medically since it was a “domestic animal.” They indicated that if I had the slightest of discomforts I should return immediately. I didn’t have to go back.
Surprisingly a couple of weeks later, I got a call from Officer, and he let me know they had located the woman and her dog.
Naturally, I was curious. How did they do that?
Back in those days, “list-servs” were just beginning to be used. So, the Officer posted on the “dog walker list-serv” and described the situation and added that if he couldn’t locate the owner or the dog, then all dogs would have to be leashed. He threatened to shut down all unleashed dog walking.
That dude was serious.
Now get this. The woman turned herself in, and after doing that, she got indignant with the Officer so much so that he threatened to take her dog away and lock her up.
I had called in a report “to cover my ass.” I was impressed that the Officer took my report seriously and followed through.
I continued to run along the trail. No problems.
But my running career did end shortly thereafter
As I was running down an incline, I said in my mind that I needed to slow down. At the moment I stumbled, twisted my ankle, and fell.
Since I had been plagued with injuries, that was the proverbial straw. I hobbled back home.
After first the dog bite and then the fall, I got “the sign.” I hung up my running shoes. It was onto other fitness activities.
Today as I walk in the park, the dogs are running around enjoying themselves.