When the police get it right
By M. Moss, first published in The Washington Post.
“F— you pigs!”
This was last month. My son was on his side on the ground, in handcuffs, a police officer pinning down his legs, another officer holding down his upper body.
“F— you piiiiiigs!”
When it looked as though he might be scraping his face on the asphalt of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail bike path, the officers moved him, while holding him down, so his face was on the grass.
“Buddy, if you calm down, we’ll let you sit up.”
“F— you piiiigs!”
The joggers and bikers on the trail moved past, looking concerned but not stopping to turn the scene into a spectacle.
My son has a neurological disability. He didn’t ask for it, and learning to live with it has not been an easy task. He is also a big man — 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and fit. When he drinks, which is rare, he is unpredictable, aggressive and — though I hate the expression — a danger to himself and others.
He had come to Arlington a week before, after a year at Spring Lake Ranch, a therapeutic community and working farm in Vermont, where residents raise animals, make maple syrup, chop wood, build barns and grow vegetables. Mostly, he was learning to inhabit his own skin and enjoy the days that become possible in a life lived without alcohol or drugs. Everyone treated each other with respect. My son was expected to pull his weight, and he did. He wasn’t given a break because of his disability.
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