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By: Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of African-American News & Issues & Author of column series We MUST Understand

Over the course of the past week, I thought long and hard about the recent controversial issue that we reported concerning Marlin Gipson and Constable Alan Rosen’s office on last week. While African-American News & Issues still remains a publication that thrives off of highlighting and addressing current and historical realities affecting our communities; I found it necessary to write about “RESPECT” in regards to this issue. I allowed my people to do their story on the issue, posing questions and concerns that the community had in regards to the way that the situation was handled, by the Constables office. But ultimately, I still have to elaborate on one common principle that is first and foremost importantly.

American General Robert E. Lee said it best when he quoted that, “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.” I wholeheartedly agree with him in this aspect. It does not matter what type of authority we have any type of encounter with, authority alone automatically warrants respect. Back when I was coming up we were taught and trained to say, “Yes sir”, “No sir”, “Yes mam” and “No mam” period point blank. It didn’t matter how we felt or thought about folk, we were trained to respect people in their positions either way. There have been times in my life that I knew there were folk that didn’t care for me, but simply showing respect to them; forced them with no choice other than to respect me.

By no means am I attempting to justify or side with law officials in this case, because as we know there are a few bad apples in every bunch. Sometimes, there are even more bad apples in the bunch than good. Nevertheless, we Africans living in America have to first do our part and respect, so that we won’t give folks any reason to raise a concern or issue against us. It already doesn’t take but a small spark to light a fire. So why put gasoline on something, that you see can easily ignite without you fanning the flame? My point here is that authority demands respect, regardless of the situation.

Parents these days need to go back to those old morals and values of simply teaching their children to respect people in positions. Because if they don’t respect their parents or themselves; they certainly won’t respect those in authority positions, and that factor alone could be the very death of them. Time after time, situation after situation, and encounter after encounter; has already proven that the odds are stacked up against members of the African-American community. That is on mostly all levels from the White House to the jailhouse, but especially when an encounter with law officials arises. So to me it’s simple, keep your mouth shut, do like you are asked to do and above all show respect to authority.

Just to briefly recap the situation… Recently, videos recorded by a young Black male, Marlin Gipson went viral after an officer approached him. Gipson was in the process of distributing business cards for his lawn-care business. It can clearly be seen on the video that some other young Black males were in the background, landscaping at the time. Gipson told the officer that he was, “trying to make money”. The officer then asks for his name and date of birth and ultimately for his identification. Gipson does not provide his identification but, instead he provides his business card and asks instead asks the officer for his information as well. Afterwards, the officer requests for him to turn around and put his hands on his head. Gipson, while steady recording the incident flees from the scene to go home, where the situation later escalates. When the officers arrive at his residence, Gipson requests that they leave his home and retreats inside. According to reports, police officials are granted access into the home by a family member. The end result leads to a K-9 unit being released on Gipson along with him being tasered and sustaining injuries to his arm.

I will reiterate my stance again. Of course, there was some policy issues involved with the way that things were handled. Part of which may be some of the very reason that the charges were ultimately dropped. Yet and still, our Black children need to learn about respect. Things could have been much worse than they were. This young man could have been packed out instead of walking away… Members from our community have seen it happen far too many times as it is, from things a lot less than this altercation.

Concluding, WE MUST Understand when an officer approaches, say, “Yes sir”, or “Yes mam”, “What can I help you with?” Be respectful and comply with any requests within the law that are asked of you to avoid any allegations or suspicions on your behalf. If they ask you for identification, produce it, quietly. Never leave the scene, because that can only compound more charges such as: evading arrest or fleeing the scene. I’m not conveying that this entire ordeal was right, but I’m stating that our children MUST learn to RESPECT!