Life under curfew

Sorry sir. You’ll have to turn around. This is the Green Zone.
It’s 6:10 a.m. on a Thursday. I’ve got a deadline of noon Friday on a freelance piece on which I’m working. I need to get out and take my morning walk and perhaps even interview a few folks along the way for my story. But I can’t because 50 minutes remain until the curfew is over for the night.

Perhaps nothing stirs emotions of middle class (what’s left of it at least) America like seeing people (especially black people) on television reports from disaster areas or those of civil unrest emerging from closed businesses with TV sets and stereos. Those images of looting in New Orleans post-Katrina certainly whipped up an emotional frenzy here with Rita coming and Rita going. I have photos, though not yet processed, of some warnings painted on local homes, things to the effect of “U Loot, We’ll Shoot.”

So our local and state leaders responded by saturating the area here around Beaumont, Texas, with police and instigating a curfew from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Nothing has been looted from my home, but I can’t say that is a direct result of the curfew or the added police. In fact, I’ve seen only two police cars — both Texas Highway Patrol — drive down my street since I returned home on Saturday.

Authorities say the curfew is both to prevent looting and to keep people from walking on downed power lines they can’t see in the dark. But you have to figure it’s mainly to keep people (especially black people) from looting. Personally I don’t know how effective it really is. Perhaps it is a deterrent. And maybe I even feel a little safer. Then again, I also feel a little safer because of my Remington 870 pump shotgun and the box of buckshot I have for it. Hey, if you find that offensive, sorry, I’m just being a Texan.

More than anything the curfew is a gigantic pain in the ass for me. I have things to do and I am burning (almost)daylight. I don’t plan to loot anyone. I would suggest the next time they have a curfew the police hand out to those with legitimate activities during curfew some big paper targets that can be worn on both the chest and back. If we are caught breaking into a store and stealing TVs, then it will be easier for the cops to shoot us. Like the song says: “You’ve got to give a little, take a little … “

Only 30 more minutes before curfew is over.

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