The Fowler Street Shootout

It was a warm sunny Saturday evening in May. I was running a quick errand to the store to pick up some stuff for Mother's day. As I headed down Fowler street, I saw three black males, I would guess there ages were around thirteen. They were shouting, running around, having a good time. All of a sudden, one of them jumped into the middle of the road looking straight at me as I drove my black 1997 Nissan Altima down the street.

He put his hands together, palm to palm, fingers interlaced, except for the index fingers. Those, stuck out straight towards me, like the barrel of a revolver. All of a sudden, they jerked upwards, as if receiving the recoil of a gun. He resumed his aim, and pumped off a few more imaginary rounds at the on coming car.

I reached out the window and pointed my left hand at him, a smaller, but just as effective imaginary gun. I fired a few rounds, and he clutched his chest, as if he had been hit. His friend laughed and waved, so for good measure I pumped a few rounds off towards them as well, and they scattered.

The only thing missing was Peter Gabriel's "Jeux sans frontieres" blasting from the car radio.

I am a 52 year old white man, driving a beat up old car through a mixed neighborhood. It felt good to join in the games of some kids on the street on that fine spring evening, but I paused to wonder.

The boys weren't wearing hoodies. The way they interacted with an unknown white male on the streets indicated that their mothers probably hadn't had "the talk" with them; the talk how their actions might be misunderstood, how they could end up following in the steps of Trayvon Williams.

New Haven is not a stranger to youth being killed, and the kids were playing half a mile from where a new gun shop is slated to open in Woodbridge.

What went through those kids minds as they interacted with me on the street. We're they playing out the scene from their favorite video game? We're they processing the fears and concerns of their families about shootings in New Haven. Will they go on to join the military, the police, or some gang? Are they celebrating a Happy Mother's Day with their families?

And what role did I play in the drama. I wish I could stop and talk with them. Most likely, they'd run away. If not, they'd probably roll their eyes the way my kids have so often done.

Now, I sit on the deck. I hope people have a happy Mother's Day, especially the mothers of black youth in our country.

(Categories: )