SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – It was an incident that renewed a nationwide debate about race in America.
A white woman in New York’s Central Park last month, threatening to call police on a Black man, after he asked her to leash her dog in an area of the park that was mandatory.
The incident was seen as another example of white people calling the police on African-Americans for mundane reasons.
In Shaker Heights Saturday, it was a similar scene as Wendy Brown says someone called the cops on her children.
“We encourage them to go outside and just be kids, so they were just playing football out in the street like they do any other time,” Brown says. “I don’t know the cop’s name, but he came to me and said ‘I don’t know who would do it, but someone called police on the kids, they said they were playing in the street so we came by.’ And he said ‘we used to play in the street as kids.'”
Wendy captured the scene on her cell phone, as the responding officers joined in the game.
But with racial tensions at an all-time high, it’s false narratives that could put officers and the community they serve in danger.
South Euclid police officer Joe DiLillo has been on the force for 15 years, and says the kids in his city know him as simply Officer Joe, often picking up a game of basketball with young boys (as seen in the video above).
“I’ve never punched anybody, kicked anybody, stabbed anybody, shot anybody. Most officers go their entire careers without doing so,” DiLillo says. “They recognized me, I recognized them and they asked me to come out of the car and talk with them a little bit rub elbows, and then join them in a game of basketball which I was happy to do.”
This past weekend, DiLillo and South Euclid’s police chief, joined hundreds in a peaceful protest against police brutality stemming from the police killing of George Floyd.
DiLillo says with racial tensions high, more positive images like a game of pick-up basketball are needed more now, than ever before.
“Nobody hates bad cops more than good cops and it’s unfortunate because there are so many, hardworking police officers in this country who go to work everyday and want to do good,” DiLillo says.
As Brown says,”If we didn’t have the three gentlemen that came over to check on them, it could’ve gone way worse.”