by Morris Turner
Clearly, this young man was in a state of painful confusion when he traveled from his home in San Jose to seek comfort with the mother of his two children, ages 4 and 5. When she denied his advances, he became belligerent and a roommate called the police.
DeJuan was not a “hot head” or “trouble maker.” He had recently been hired to work at a local Oliver’s style deli after moving from Sacramento, where he had been employed by Trader Joe’s for several years. He had obviously gone over the edge and seemingly with good reason.
I met DeJuan when he lived in Sonoma County as a teenager and was a fixture in our neighborhood. DeJuan was a close friend of my sons and could always be counted on to show up for the Saturday pick-up game of baseball at the park down the street. He was well liked by everyone who knew him and always extended himself for others.
This is not an acceptable resolution to the escalating issues of stress and hopelessness in our society. Maybe it’s time for a new model. A model that reflects the awareness and wisdom of a civil society, not the replication of Wild West tactics that call for deadly force as the first and, sadly, final option.
Morris Turner III, a former community worker with the Black Panther Party, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.