Apparently, I was taking my life in my own hands during our recent trip to visit my parents in Florida. I made the mistake of wearing a hooded sweatshirt inside their gated community. That is allegedly enough to be considered not only suspicious--but downright dangerous.
Our first night down there, I was grilling burgers on the back patio. There was a light rain, so I had the hood pulled up over my head. What if my parents' neighbors had seen me? Would they have been scared? Would they have felt threatened? Would they have called 911? "Hello, Police? Yes, there is a man I don't know walking around in my neighbor's yard--and he's wearing a hoodie!" "Did you say a hoodie, sir?" "Yes, a hoodie!" "We'll send over the SWAT team immediately."
Or what if one of the private security guards that drives the streets of the community had spotted me out there? Would he have set up surveillance to monitor my movements? Would he have pulled out the spotlight and accosted me? Would he have mistaken my burger flipper for a gun--and fired if I moved toward him unexpectedly?
And would the Lake County Prosecutor tell my wife that there would be no arrests, no criminal charges and no further investigation "Because, Mrs. Kause, he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and really, he was somewhere he didn't belong. There's a reason we have walls and gates around this community."
We were in the Orlando area the day 17-year old Trayvon Martin was killed while walking through another gated community--armed with nothing more than a bag of Skittles and a bottle of soda. I can honestly say I don't remember much of the initial local media coverage of the case. You don't really pay attention to the crime stories of some other city--it doesn't affect you, so what do you care? As I recall, one of the stations had their top story that week "Are Skinny Jeans Dangerous to Your Health? This is a special report you don't want to miss!!"
I guess when we go to visit the folks next winter, I'll just pack nothing but Tommy Bahama shirts and Khaki pants--and leave the "dangerous" hoodies at home.