Just some food for thought

FALSELY ACCUSED

With just 7 days until my 34th birthday. I am making a conscious effort to leave some things behind as I head into my 34th year. I am about to share is one of those things. For the record, I attempted to get closure privately. I made two visits to the business with hopes of speaking to someone to no avail. I left my number both times but I guess I just wasn’t worth a return call. Maybe I am just supposed to be grateful no formal charges were brought. Well that is not enough.

Racism is real. Unfortunate but true. We can pretend it isn’t, hoping it will disappear if we ignore it but eventually we will have to face the facts.

From the countless instances of police brutality to the outspoken supporters of the movement to make our country “great again,” there’s no question that we are undergoing one of the most racially charged moments in recent history.

For a while, I watched -- as many of us do -- from the sidelines. I don’t see color, that isn’t how I was raised. I have so many people in my life that don’t see color either, so I have been living in a bubble. Then racism walked right up and slapped me in the face. “Oh I am real, you better recognize!”

Innocent until proven guilty ? Not if you are the only African American female to visit T BAR M for chiropractic services in the last 18 months. The story I am about to tell questions my integrity and that is why, while more than three months have passed since the incident (and not having cooled off even a little), I have decided to post this in defense of everything I have worked so hard to build.

Ok. So what is this about? $80.

Let me explain.

It was Memorial Day, in a mad dash to get a few last minute things done before departing for my June 3rd wedding I was out shopping for string to use on my wedding favors. As I walked out of the store, I received a phone call.

The person on the other end was Detective Barry Maxwell. He wanted to talk to me because I was identified as -- get this -- the “lookout for another young lady that stole $80 from the cash register at a business in Dallas, T Bar M” a month prior.

Haha, who is this for real? Certainly I am being punked right? Nah...

From the beginning, Detective Maxwell’s tone was abrasive and condescending, but knowing that I had absolutely nothing to do with a theft I thought I should at least hear what he had to say. Over the course of the call, he became downright nasty.

That’s when things began to escalate.

“I am not a thief! Believe me sir I don’t need to steal anything from anyone! In fact, I have only ever been to this place once and it was about 18months ago!”

“Why would they just make this up,” he asked, “Are they just out to get you?” He even went as far as saying that he had a copy of my license and surveillance video and that the person on the license and video were definitely the same.

I knew that even if he had a copy of my license, which of course is easily accessible by any law enforcement agent, there was no way that he had me on surveillance video serving as lookout for an $80 ‘heist’. I guess to him I ‘fit the description’ and that alone was enough.

“Like I said I have only been to T Bar M only once -- about 18 months ago -- to see a chiropractor.”

We go back and forth more.

Now all of a sudden armed with the information I had just provided him, the chiropractor that treated me was the one that identified me on the surveillance video.

Well the reason I never went back to the establishment after my one visit 18 months ago was because the gentleman I saw was moving!!

So now I am done with Detective Maxwell and his shenanigans.

He said he wanted to meet with me. I said, Well where are you? I am on my way. He said today is a holiday so that is not possible. But you called me on a holiday to interrogate about this crime??

As soon as our call ended, I called the police department to verify this was not a prank and there was in fact a Detective Maxell. There was. I wasn’t about to leave town with these allegations hanging over my head. I drove downtown to the police station to try and prove my innocence. Unfortunately since it was a holiday, there was only a gentleman serving as security there. He asked what this was about. “Apparently I am criminal, I helped someone steal $80. I want to clear my name and file a complaint against that nasty detective I just spoke to.”

His response. A chuckle and that “$80 is not even an arrestable crime” the most a person would receive is a ticket. It has to be over $100 for someone to be arrested. So Detective Maxell called me, interrogated me and caused me to spend countless hours fretting over how to clear my name over a crime I cannot even be arrested for?!

The gentleman provided me with the information to visit the office where Detective Maxwell works and I drove there. But this too, was pointless. He wasn't there.

Running out of options, I decided to go to T Bar M in hopes that I could get everything straightened out directly with the party making the accusation. No formal person available there either. I left my number but I never heard from anyone.

I visited again in August and was told both the manager and owner were on vacation but was assured someone would get back to me.

The only plausible theory I have come up with for how my name could have ever come up is someone violating my medical file and choosing me simply because the African American box was checked.

Believe me when I say, I am in no way trying to tout my accomplishments or put myself on a pedestal, but I am a 4x Olympian who holds a degree in finance, an MBA, and multiple financial certifications.

I have not fallen on hard times.

Granted, no one is immune to hard times but I would like to think that there are many opportunities for me to earn money before I reach the point of being the lookout in a $80 crime.

I tried to hire a lawyer but none thought $80 petty crime is not worth the hassle. I do. My name and reputation are everything. I am the only one who can destroy it. I will not stand idly by when someone else attempts to. I have worked so hard to uphold the highest values and live a life of integrity, that the thought that someone could destroy all of that because I ‘fit a profile’ does not sit right with me.

And what if?

What if it wasn’t just $80 and it was $8,000 that I was accused of helping steal? Would I be still be sitting in a jail cell today hoping that the truth would eventually come out? Are there people sitting in jail cells right now because they fit a description and couldn’t prove otherwise? Absolutely! And that’s what I worry about.

How a person visits a place once, pays for their service and then is accused of an $80 crime 18 months later the world may never know. Just know it can happen.

Social media gives a voice to the voiceless. If no apology is coming from anyone and this is the only action left for me as an avenue to share my pain, so be it. I know that this experience could have changed a previously open minded person into one fearful or suspicious of others who look different than them. I am choosing to moving on. I still don’t see color, but I am aware that others do. It would be great to work with the new police chief on a committee of some sort to improve race relations both within the police department and in the community. Madam Ulysha Renee Hall I hope to hear from you soon.