Law Enforcement, Social Media Users Turn An Act Of Kindness Into A Human Trafficking Investigation

from the some-people-are-just-the-worst dept

With enough self-delusion, any act of humanity can be considered a criminal act. It works for cops. It also works for the general public. When you’re a suspicious busybody with an overactive imagination and too much time on your hands, you can waste everyone’s tax dollars by panicking.

A Walmart employ, who is apparently convinced human trafficking is as common as the common cold, decided to get law enforcement involved, resulting in this message from the Coshocton (OH) County Sheriff’s Office:

On 2/15/2021 the Sheriff’s Office received a call from the Walmart Security Department in regards to suspicious activity in their parking lot involving a vehicle and two, what appear to be, males looking into vehicles and placing a single red rose under the windshield wipers of those vehicles. While reviewing the Walmart Surveillance Cameras, the two unknown males are seen exiting from, what appears to be, a newer style dark gray Ford Explorer, or similar looking vehicle, with chrome rims and side mirrors and placing a single red rose on it. This same sequence occurs multiple times on several vehicles that are parked on the outskirts of the parking lot. The males then get back into the vehicle and leave the area. Although there have been several Facebook posts of similar instances that have happened in Ohio regarding Human Trafficking related techniques, it is unclear at this time if this incident is related to such type of crime.

Pay attention to the last sentence and mourn with me over the state of online discourse. “Several Facebook posts of similar instances… regarding Human Trafficking related techniques.” Oh wow. Maybe Facebook shouldn’t be considered a trustworthy source of information about “Human Trafficking related techniques.” Perhaps Google might provide a more, better informed perspective on the red rose=human trafficking assumption.

Here’s a 2019 Snopes post detailing (and debunking) another stupid panic originating from Kentucky. A photo of a long-stemmed red rose slid into a car’s door handle was accompanied by something even writers for Law & Order: SVU would find too far-fetched:

“There have been recent incidents in Northern Kentucky about sex traffickers leaving roses on victim’s [sic] cars. The roses have a chemical on them to make you pass out, so they can grab you. One incident happened in the Walmart parking lot in Florence, KY! Please be careful, ladies!”

The photo used by this Facebook user dates back to 2014. And the original post containing it said nothing about human trafficking. Instead, it was captioned with nothing more than a bunch of words some people might have mistakenly believed were insightful or original.

“Growth is Not Pretty”

This was local law enforcement’s response to Snopes’ queries:

“This is completely unfounded and has been floating around for quite a long time. There have been zero incidents anywhere in Florence, or anywhere else that I have heard, of anything remotely related to this.”

But maybe the Kentucky cops were wrong. Let’s scroll through a few more search results…

Here’s another fact check from September 2020, roughly a year after the Snopes debunking, deflating yet another social media panic attack dealing with roses on cars. In this case, the roses were placed under the windshield wiper.

The viral copy and paste warning is the latest in a never ending stream of baseless, alarmist, and panicked posts that claims to describe the latest and trending method used by kidnappers or sex traffickers to kidnap vulnerable females.

The warning joins a countless number of other equally spurious warnings including the plastic bottle in the wheelwell warning, the zip tie on side mirror warning, the drug laced business card warning, the paper or $100 bill on the windshield warning and the baby car seat on the side of the road warning.

Anything that looks a little strange — but is otherwise explainable without having to conjure up waking nightmares involving swarthy men and helpless (presumably white) minors — tends to turn into a OMG SEX TRAFFICKING when handed over to excitable social media users.

Hey, falsely reporting a crime is [wait for it] a crime. And yet, these people never seem to get charged with anything, no matter how many law enforcement resources are wasted. If there are no consequences, there’s no deterrent.

One more time for the people in back who are still insisting on getting their news from internet randos:

“My mom just informed me that a new human trafficking thing that is being done is putting zip ties on girls’ [mirrors on their car doors] when they see that they are alone so when the girl comes back to her car [she is] distracted trying to take it off then they come up behind [her] and take [her],” TikTok user @ohokaygirl said in a video now deleted from the platform. “If you see one of these on your car door, please get in your car, lock your doors, roll up your windows and drive away immediately.”

Following the spread of a similar social media post last year, the San Angelo Police Department in Texas made a statement dispelling the rumor, assuring area residents that neither it nor the Angelo State University Police Department had received any reports of zip ties on cars, lamp posts, houses, apartments or fences.

Here’s another law enforcement response to a similar bout of hysteria:

Michigan State Police are warning about misinformation on social media. You may have seen the viral post warning about a zip tie sex trafficking trap.

It all started with a photo of a car on Facebook with a zip tie around the side mirror.

“It’s essentially like an urban legend or a scare-lore. The whole idea of the intent is just to scare people,” said Lt. Brian Oleksyk.

Oleksyk says sex traffickers are not leaving zip ties on cars.

“There’ve been other hoaxes that have been proven false like a flannel shirt on a windshield of a car or a specific parking lot of a shopping mall is grounds for sex-trafficking,” said Oleksyk.

Oleksyk says sex traffickers aren’t warning victims at all.

Everything is cyclical, including panics based on nothing more than someone seeing something unusual and deciding it must be something nefarious.

Here are the facts behind the Ohio human trafficking panic — one unfortunately obliged by local law enforcement. But before we get to the details, let’s examine the rest of the Sheriff’s statement:

After contacting surrounding Law Enforcement Agencies, this type of incident involving flowers being left on vehicles has not been reported to their Agencies.

This is the law enforcement version of Google. And I would normally applaud doing due diligence, but…

This incident is being treated as suspicious at this time.

Well, neverfuckingmind.

Here’s what really happened:

Brittaney Strupe had a fantastic Valentine’s Day weekend.

She got engaged and had plenty of leftover red roses to show for it.

“I think (my fiancé) ended up saying that he spent over $300 in just roses,” Strupe said. “He was just going to throw them outside or in the trash, so I told him, instead of wasting, we should pass it on.”

So Strupe enlisted the help of her sister and daughter, and the trio headed out to spread some love, by placing roses on vehicles.

Strupe’s daughter, Kiara, had the idea of going to a place where the group could find a lot of vehicles.

“We should just go to Walmart, thinking like, oh yeah, this will be a good idea, people are going to come out and think it’s awesome, and that didn’t happen,” Kiara Strupe said.

It certainly did not. And the initial report from Walmart — one involving its surveillance cameras — said something about two males when it was actually two females. This detail, that eluded the sharp eyes of Walmart employees, might have ended this before it began. But it didn’t. And we’re left with this unfortunate chain of events.

Welcome to the law enforcement version of America: no good deed goes uninvestigated, if not actually unpunished. An investigation was opened as calls “started coming in,” according to Deputy Chris Johnson, who participated in the needless investigation. But it turned out to be nothing, which is where it started several hours and several hundred tax dollars earlier.

Here’s the update from the Sheriff’s Department:

After investigation of the Walmart rose incident and as a result of getting this information out to the fine citizens of Coshocton County, we are pleased to announce that the case has been solved and is in no way related to Human Trafficking in our county. A resident of the county called to inform us that they were the ones responsible for the incident and only had good, harmless intentions in mind. They had received the flowers as a Valentine’s Day gift and instead of throwing them way after beginning to wilt, they decided to pass on the love by leaving them for someone else to enjoy. They never meant to alarm anyone or cause any panic in our community.

This sounds great, but the Sheriff’s Department genuinely wants people to remain alarmed/panicked.

Deputy Johnson also agreed that the community should keep up the good deeds. But he added that it is very important for everyone to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. He advises people to follow their guts and to not hesitate to call law enforcement about something suspicious.

[heavy sigh] Look, we do need vigilance to keep people safe. But we also need some cooler heads — especially heads being paid with tax dollars — to stop encouraging people to engage in fantastical conspiracy theories just because they saw something they hadn’t seen before. This may have resolved itself quickly and mostly quietly, but adding law enforcement to wild-ass suppositions is just a good way to get people hurt, killed, or at least temporarily robbed of several freedoms.

And, if you’d like some irony sprinkled on top of this social media/Sheriff’s Department shit sandwich, there’s this:

Every Friday night, volunteers with Out of Darkness drive the streets. They offer roses to the women for sale in our city. It’s free of charge. It’s a way out.

“I need to take care of my business and get myself together,” one woman told them.

“Don’t feel like you need to get everything together, because none of us have it all together,” a volunteer responded.

The rose comes with a hotline number — (404) 941-6024 — and a promise: if they call, someone will pick them up any time, day or night.

The program has rescued more than 500 women from forced prostitution in the past nine years. While some of them go back, 60% of the women move on to a meaningful life outside of sex trafficking. That’s double the national average for programs that do the same thing around the country.

LOL

So — using the same logic that determined this to be a sex trafficking operation — this spreading of roses could have been an anti-sex trafficking operation.

In the end, I’m glad no one was harmed. But it easily could have gone another way. The Sheriff Department’s decision to feed an echo chamber a statement that erred on the side of uninformed statements rather than caution didn’t help anything. People do need to be aware of things that are happening around them. But they shouldn’t end that awareness once they’ve reached a conclusion that isn’t supported by information only a few clicks away.

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Comments on “Law Enforcement, Social Media Users Turn An Act Of Kindness Into A Human Trafficking Investigation”

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48 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, falsely reporting a crime is [wait for it] a crime. And yet, these people never seem to get charged with anything, no matter how many law enforcement resources are wasted.

Really? You want to threaten people with prison for reporting what they see as crime? We spend billions trying to get people to report crimes, and despite this people are still afraid to call the cops. Wanting law enforcement to start threatening possible crime victims if their crime isn’t real enough doesn’t help.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"We spend billions trying to get people to report crimes"

Perhaps the money would be better spent educating people on what are real risks? Of course then the police wouldn’t be able to point to the increasing numbers of call-outs and ask for even more budget, but hey, you can’t win them all.

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mvario (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"what they see as crime". I suppose if they are law enforcement officers or officers of the court, perhaps even legislators, but just because something isn’t mundane doesn’t make it a crime, or even a possible crime. The unusual isn’t illegal. There comes a time for common sense over paranoia. Yes, wasting police time is a crime, and if something doesn’t look like an actual crime then the likelihood is that it isn’t.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"There comes a time for common sense over paranoia"

Yes, but you can’t legislate common sense, and there are examples of major crimes that went unsolved for a long time because witnesses were dismissed as being kooks.

"if something doesn’t look like an actual crime then the likelihood is that it isn’t"

Except when it is. While the misinformation seems to be more widespread than real leads, there are cases where people have reported something relatively mundane that they considered suspicious, and has led to crime being discovered or prevented.

The question is how you discourage false reports without also discouraging real ones, and that’s hard to do if the person reporting honestly believes what they’re saying. Ramping up prosecution against witnesses who honestly think they saw something will only lead to less people coming forward about real crimes.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"I guess you want people to report everything as a potential crime."

There is a middle ground, where people who regularly waste police time face consequences for doing so repeatedly, but where people who don’t do such things are not discouraged from reporting a problem.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"…where people who regularly waste police time face consequences for doing so repeatedly…"

Well, yes. In small towns the local police probably know the lokal yokel tends to see all the aliens wearing human skin masks walking around in broad daylight after a few stiff drinks. And that the yokel in question likes to report the shenanigans of said aliens in great detail to any officer he may find. Along with his sightings of Illuminati agents and Chinese spies. They’ve more or less stopped believing him by now.

The problem (muting the paranoid conspiracy theorists) is that that solution does not scale well. The US can pride itself to have 1 in 3 citizens wearing tinfoil hats. There’s no way at all to properly filter the few calls made on real basis from the ones based in the perception that the satanist cannibal cult helmed by the kenyan muslim has struck in their neighborhood, as proven by…a flower left on someone’s car.

Yeah, discouraging the public from calling on the police is in any sane and rational society a Bad Thing. In the US though? It might just be the lesser of two evils, given that there’s a non-zero chance the call may result in some innocent bystander needlessly shot dead for Looking Suspicious, Holding an Ice Cream Cone, or Being Brown In Public.

The ideal solution would be to have a citizenry sufficiently well mentally balanced and equipped with common sense, ensuring that calls to the police would at least be rooted in reasonable suspicion. That can’t be taken for granted in this case.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The point is, there is very much a way to filter the individuals who keep making the stupid calls and punish them for it, while not deterring people who would only make a single call. The response to that call is down to the dispatchers and officers on the scene, of course, but you should not be deterring information just because there’s some nutters out there.

"there’s a non-zero chance the call may result in some innocent bystander needlessly shot dead for Looking Suspicious"

There’s also a non-zero chance that someone actually being victimised will meet an unnecessary fate because the report of suspicious activity was ignored. I can name numerous serious crimes that were discovered through something apparently innocuous at first glance. The point is to find a point of balance.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"The point is, there is very much a way to filter the individuals who keep making the stupid calls and punish them for it, while not deterring people who would only make a single call."

Well, yes. You’d need to establish an at the very least statewide registry linking emergency calls to investigative discoveries. I’m not sure we want a registry of "Deranged person, do not waste time" dispatchers can use. It may be the least bad option in a place like the US where mental health hazards not being treated is the norm but it’s hardly an optimal approach.

"There’s also a non-zero chance that someone actually being victimised will meet an unnecessary fate because the report of suspicious activity was ignored."

Certainly. In the UK, Germany or Sweden, most assuredly. In none of those countries is there a significant risk the officers would show up and shoot or brutalize someone in a routine investigation. Again, in the US I’d figure the odds the "suspicious activity" would prove harmful is less than the risk the called-in police officer would turn out to be harmful. By far.

"The point is to find a point of balance."

And where that point of balance is depends largely on the state of the society you’re making that evaluation in. I think calling in a London bobby or a swedish snut over an oddity is fairly safe. I can’t say the same about calling in the NYPD or good officer Chauvin.

Bear in mind that George Floyd was outright murdered over just such a call, because a store clerk thought a twenty dollar bill looked suspicious. When you have dozens or hundreds of cases of "cops showing up, brown man dead", you should probably just accept that unless you observe clear and present danger happening, not calling the police might be the option of choice – in minnesota and charlottesville, at least, and all too many other places in the US where "officer" is synonymous with "racist thug".

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Deranged persons

Part of the problem is the mentally ill are more susceptible to situations that could require intervention. Mental illness is disproportionately represented among victims of domestic violence, and yet they are also already disregarded by law enforcement. Extreme examples might look like Konerak Sinthasomphone who the police returned to Jeffrey Dahmer on the pretense he was inebriated in public.

We don’t need a crackpots list of people that 911 can dismiss, rather we need a special needs list that tracks who has what problems, and a paranoid seeing masked reptilians again can be linked to a case worker or a crisis councilor. And if he just escaped a stabbing and is bleeding out, he can be summoned an ambulance (of reptilian med techs) to render first aid.

We need to develop a system that will handle village idiots and village drunks as well as ordinary villagers, with none of them falling victim to preventable bad outcomes.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

discouraging the public from calling on the police is in any sane and rational society a Bad Thing. In the US though? It might just be the lesser of two evils, given that there’s a non-zero chance the call may result in some innocent bystander needlessly shot dead for Looking Suspicious, Holding an Ice Cream Cone, or Being Brown In Public.

Therein lies a large issue with the “see something, say something” mentality: What is normal to one person might be suspicious to another — especially if it involves racial differences. That goes as much for cops as it does for regular jackoffs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To enlighten both you and the author it isn’t even a crime to call in things you believe to be true regardless of actual reality. If you had a psychotic episode and report that vampires are running down the mainstreet and drinkikg the blood of children and they found the main street deserted the proper thing to be to would take you to a psych ward but no crime was committed.

Someone with panicing at a guy with a nail gun and thinking they are brandishing a pistol may cause tragedy but even though false it would be hard to prove false intent even if it looked suspicious.

Now if the caller say saw a minority walk by said to a horrifirdwitness and then reported them as walking down the street with a gun when they never had anything in their hands nor any pockets that is a clear case of a willful misrepresentation and would be criminal.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Don't call law enforcement. Don't talk to law enforcement.

"Adding police officers to any situation is about as useful as adding thirteen tons of toxic waste."

…and once again it has to be said that within the G20 at least, that assertion will prompt the reply of "Only In America".

I can’t say that I’m too convinced of the efficiency of Swedish or German police to solve a great many problems you might call them for, but at least they won’t show up, shoot the nearest brown person dead, and call it a job well done.

cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Perhaps if cops didn’t make so many situations so much worse when responding, communities wouldn’t be so hesitant to report actual crimes they have witnessed. Perhaps if cops made actual effort into solving violent crimes, or getting stolen vehicles returned to rightful owners without making the process more expensive and difficult, there might be a little more faith in the value of reporting crime. When cops start treating poor people, minorities, people experiencing overwhelming emotions due to being victimized, or due to a crisis, children and especially minority children, with care, concern, dignity, instead of tasing, handcuffing, insulting, threatening, shooting their dogs, and generally acting as though everyone they come in contact with is a grave threat, then we discuss why we shouldn’t discourage the public from reporting things.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Perhaps if cops didn’t make so many situations so much worse when responding…"

Only in America.
I have in my life spoken to several police officers who were visibly armed, and at no point did i ever feel nervous that they would suddenly end up shooting someone, nor were they rude, intimidating, or demanding to search people at random. The few times I’ve read about such happenings in the news have been sensational because that sort of behavior is rare.

"…Perhaps if cops made actual effort into solving violent crimes, or getting stolen vehicles returned to rightful owners without making the process more expensive and difficult…"

This issue with police, on the other hand, seems ubiquitous. Even in europe you call the police for violent altercations or situations threatening human life, but reporting your stolen goods is mainly to establish the proper paper trail for your insurance company.

mechtheist (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"The few times I’ve read about such happenings in the news have been sensational because that sort of behavior is rare."
Your personal experience means nothing. But ‘few’? There are more than one police killings a day, this stuff is in the news every day FFS. If you googled, it would take you weeks to get through the massive accumulation of articles/videos even limiting it to just a few per incident.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"Your personal experience means nothing. But ‘few’? There are more than one police killings a day, this stuff is in the news every day FFS."

Yeah, i forgot to add one salient point there; I live in Sweden and the conclusions I draw are based on western europe.

That’s why my experience and the statistics of police brutality and malfeasance observed in my country are different than the american norm. Over this side of the pond we actually assume the police are a beneficial part of society.

It’s become pretty clear the same does not hold true in the US. Hence my statement about this being yet one more "Only In America" issue.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

[Addendum]

"There are more than one police killings a day, this stuff is in the news every day FFS."

The statistics show that per capita US police kill more people than criminals do per capita in some other countries. If your law enforcement kills more people than criminals do elsewhere then that’s a clear sign you’ve got a problem.

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PaulT (profile) says:

"Anything that looks a little strange — but is otherwise explainable without having to conjure up waking nightmares involving swarthy men and helpless (presumably white) minors — tends to turn into a OMG SEX TRAFFICKING when handed over to excitable social media users."

This is, of course, a massive problem as it either gets people who are observant worrying about things that have nothing to do with trafficking, or cries wolf enough that people don’t take notice of things that actually are signs of it happening.

"Hey, falsely reporting a crime is [wait for it] a crime. And yet, these people never seem to get charged with anything"

Well, the problem here is how you enforce it. If you have someone playing a practical joke, out for revenge or otherwise deliberately doing that, then it’s easy to do. But, what if the person is deluded enough to believe that what they are saying is true? You certainly don’t want to establish a pattern of people honestly (to their mind) reporting crimes being prosecuted as that has devastating effects on certain minority communities, and actual rape victims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would argue that someone who is deluded be legally confirmed as such, and sent for help. Someone willfully promoting max-cray moral panic conspiracy theories and then pinning those on some innocent people, get them some help and fine them. Someone recklessly or maliciously falsly reporting crime, yeah prosecute them.

I know that is a lot to ask of the system, but since it is under discussion here, i would suggest that there is no reason to apply an artificial and rigid binary "solution".

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"I know that is a lot to ask of the system, but since it is under discussion here, i would suggest that there is no reason to apply an artificial and rigid binary "solution"."

The question might rather be whether that should be a lot to ask of the system. In any sane society valuing the mental health of its citizenry most of the outrageous lunatics would have received therapy and help from the evaluations made when they went through school, working life, or through general checkups.

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Blake C. Stacey (profile) says:

"Red roses mean human trafficking" has the same energy as ’90s urban legends about kids and drugs, the urban legends that my school administrators naturally believed. Watch out! Teens are getting high on "Pluto", the hot new party drug made from roasted banana peels. It’s all fun and games, until they wake up in Mexico in a bathtub full of ice with sea salt on the rim….

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you’ve paid attention to the policing in the United States (and all of the Americas, even), black people can and do get the brunt of extrajudicial police violence, sometimes ending up in death based upon nothing more than suspicion. This is what led to the George Floyd protests last summer.

And I can’t speak for Tim Cushing, but I do believe that society overreacts when white women and girls are the victims of kidnapping and death. Think of how many missing or killed white women and girls you ever saw on CNN or Headline News (such as Elizabeth Smart or JonBenet Ramsey), and then think about how many of them are black. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about how much our society value black lives.

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cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes. Racial biases persist regardless of denial. Most, though not all, moral panics drive fear over the ruination of young white women and girls virtue. Because we have never really reckoned with the racist sins of the past, and been dragged kicking and screaming into any minor degree of racial equality, we have never fully let those ideas go, often finding more insidious ways to maintain this position of supremacy. We have a lot more work to do, it doesn’t make you a bad person to admit that we need to do better.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"What does skin color have to do with anything here? Why are you injecting race into an article about moral panic? Do you believe society only overreacts when "white people" are the potential victims?"

Go read some US history. Every case of panic and outrage involving alleged trafficking or abuse of minors ends up involving the old "They’re coming for our women" spiel of the last 300 years. You literally can not find a conspiracy theory today which doesn’t, at some point, involve black people going after white women and children.
That toxic narrative hasn’t changed since before the civil war when the southern politicians used the idea that if the slaves were freed no white woman would be safe in her life and chastity to cement their opposition to emancipation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So moral panics were invented in the antebellum south? I’m fairly sure they’ve been used for most of human history and in places where the victims weren’t white.

Please stop viewing everything in life through a lens of "there must be racism". A large part of society is continually viewing the world in an increasingly negative light. Painting anyone who disagrees with them as the most vile people to ever exist. That sounds a lot like moral panic, now doesn’t it?

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TaboToka (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Do you believe society only overreacts when "white people" are the potential victims?

The last 400 years of North American History would indicate that yes, when white folks — especially white women — are the supposed or actual victims, society will vastly overreact.

WWII Veteran Isaac Woodard Jr. was beaten and permanently blinded in 1946 for arguing with a white bus driver about using the restroom during a rest stop.

Emmett Till, ’nuff said.

mechtheist (profile) says:

Acts of kindness are now suspicious

Welcome to the new order. We’ve gotten so polarized and caustic towards so many of our fellow citizens that acts of kindness stick out enough to strike fear in paranoid minds of folks who think half the country is out to get them in some way. If a stranger smiles at you or offers a ‘Howdy’, you better run, they’re sex traffickers out to steal your kids. And god help you if they anyone offers to help you in any way, I hear that’s how the cannibals get you.

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cattress (profile) says:

Re: Acts of kindness are now suspicious

When I was about 6 years old, I got lost at the beach. I walked 2 miles, from one public beach to another, I kept thinking my mom was just a little further, and I have no idea what possessed me to keep going once I reached empty beach with no one in sight, but I did. And a little before reaching the next beach, a couple walking on the beach found me, and offered to help me get to a lifeguard to find my mom. And even though I had heard the stranger danger message, I wasn’t afraid of them and accepted their help. And they walked me to the lifeguard and got his attention for me.
I could have turned around and ended up wondering around lost for hours more. These people would have you think predators were lurking every where, looking for very unlikely spontaneous opportunities to nab a victim.
It was a couple years ago that a toddler wandered off from her family and when a man brought her over to find her parents the father attacked him, so I’m not sure this is particularly new.

fairuse (profile) says:

Crime Stoppers: Amateur Night

This is a situation that ThePowersThatBe created post 911. All the bad TV ads about if you see something suspicious report it, billboards too probably.

From 2015 this billboard (I bet there was a problem with calls from people fitting articles Walmart person.)
https://www.crimestopperspbc.com/human-trafficking-billboard/
So, all the be aware advice flipped on its head in the way demonstrated in that "crazy woman and the black birdwatcher video".

I bet it gets worse. Ye, I meant to type the topic label that way.

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Anonymous Coward says:

"These people reporting crap like this should be criticized." Yup, good so far.

"The cops promoting this atmosphere of fear should stop (and be criticized for doing so)." Definitely.

"The same cops promoting this atmosphere of fear should be prosecuting people who take it seriously and report crap like this." What the actual fuck.

This is vastly over-simplified from the OP, but seriously, what are you doing suggesting that people being encouraged to "see something, say something" by their local PD should be arrested by that same local PD when they actually say something? That’s just asking for more discretionary arrests. Aren’t those the ones most often abused to arrest minorities?

fairuse (profile) says:

Berlin Wall Joke DOA

In last post I was going to make a joke that today Old East Germany who lived under the thumb of secret police wonders what the Fk is going on in America.

I did not think a joke was any good and nobody here believes in putting up walls. Silly me, Washington DC does. In the video only the segment about walls is interesting, the remainder is just political yammering.
https://youtu.be/5qe606rug1g (FOX News -7min)

My first reaction – Figures. SSDD

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cattress (profile) says:

I have a sleep disorder and I function better in the later part of the day. So before the pandemic I would often do my shopping after 9, 10, or later at night, taking my baby, who I kept on my later schedule, with me. And I can’t tell you how many times white women 55+ told me that there were kidnappers and sex traffickers lurking in and around Walmart, waiting in the backseats of cars, targeting moms with full hands, offering to help only to attack once you turned your back. And these horrid men – some even tried to claim they were illegal aliens, Mexicans specifically- just waiting in the shadows of the Elkton Walmart to grab a young mom (I was a new mom, but not exactly a young one at 37-38) and her baby girl and sell us. I always found some polite response, when I really wanted to laugh at them and tell them they are utterly ridiculous. My own mother tried to peddle the white van grabbing girls at the mall not long ago, claiming life is so much more dangerous now a days. The same woman that used to let me go to the movies with by best friend, and no adult starting at age 6, in 1987, when crime rates were significantly higher.

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