Besides the horrific video of a police officer throwing a 16-year-old girl across the school room, October’s news included the dancing D.C. cop who defused a potentially nasty situation.
On October 26, D.C. police broke up a fight between groups of teens. Some of the teens hung around, and a female officer told them to disperse. That’s when the fun began. When 17-year-old Aaliyah Taylor pulled out her cell phone and started playing “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” and doing some dance moves. Instead of getting angry, the officer laughed. The Washington Post describes what happened next:
“What happened from there on the 200 block of K Street SW was a rather impressive dance-off between the police officer and the teen, and an example of positive community policing at a time when national attention is focused on discriminatory and abusive police tactics. The onlooking teens caught the dance battle on their cell phones …”
Taylor is one of eight siblings, and the only one who has never been arrested. She knew of cops as rough and rude — until this encounter, which ended in a hug.
“‘Instead of us fighting, she tried to turn it around and make it something fun,’ Taylor said. ‘I never expected cops to be that cool. There are some good cops.’”
That’s how to de-escalate a situation — a move that more cops need to learn.
In New York, some recruits learned a lesson in history, and maybe in empathy, from a theater program. As part of their training, they watched a play that told the stories of Anne Frank, a Jewish 15-year-old killed in a concentration camp during World War II, and Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old lynched in Mississippi in 1955. NPR describes the play:
“It’s a part of American history that was news to NYPD recruit Anthony Frascatore.
“‘I definitely knew the story on Anne Frank,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know the story on Emmett Till, though.’
“Neither did the other four recruits the NYPD made available for interviews. All of them were white, even though the cadets in the audience were racially diverse.”
Understanding history is a basic step toward understanding the continuing racial divides in this country. The D.C. dance-off provides an idea of some steps toward bridging those divides.