I woke up that Friday morning much the same as any Friday: thrilled that it was Friday, happy to have the weekend upon me. I had to teach two classes and then I was done for the day. Simple. Roc had to work all weekend, but I had some heavy plans with the couch and the dog, and the truth was that I was looking forward to hogging the remote.
I walked into the gym and began my usual greetings towards the members: "Are you ready to kick some buttocks?" I am the epitome of PUNNY, and I was having a chat with someone when something caught my eye on one of the flat screens hanging high in front of the treadmills. I saw the crawl at the bottom of the screen...OFFICERS ACQUITTED IN DEAN RELL CASE...and my heart skipped a beat. I said excuse me and made my way towards the television. The verdict had just come in, and the police officers were walking down the courthouse steps. I kept taking in the information, and as each word made its appearance across the screen, I felt a barrage of emotions pressing down on me. I was happy for the officers and their families. I'm sure they had just let out a big exhale. But I felt trepidation and fear coming to call; I realized that even though the verdict might be in, that this might not be over.
Time to teach. When I am teaching a class, I am utterly focused on the task at hand and therefore cannot worry. It's a good thing. By the time I was done, I had almost forgotten my concern, but then the TV assaulted me once again. More information was coming out; Al Sharpton was calling for a weekend of protest and civil disobedience in New York City. The judge's statement came forth: he found that the police officers' version of events was more credible than the victims' version, and that prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the shootings were unjustified.
So I made my way home and said good-bye to Roc as he got ready to leave. I told him to keep in touch, then did a few things around the house before settling in to watch some television. I turned on the TV and the story was still at the top of the news cycle. I watched a few minutes and then told myself to turn it off.
Soon after Roll Call, the home phone rang and I lunged to get it. It was Roc. Weird. He rarely called me from work.
"Hey! How's it going?" I was happy to hear from him.
"Get this. I mean, I don't know if I should be telling you this, but..." he sounded unsure, and very unlike himself. He took a deep breath. "We had Gang Intel at Roll Call tonight. Apparently the word on the street is that the gangs are looking to shoot a cop tonight in retaliation for the verdict. The Lieutenant advised us all to go out in fours; two at the least. We're not even allowed to walk to our cars alone at the end of shift." He made an unintelligible noise.
"Roc, please be careful. PLEASE."