“Wrong place, wrong time” is possibly more accurate. Take the case of the York, PA 1969 riots. A black man was shot and killed. Then a white police officer was shot and killed. A few days later, a carful of blacks drove into a white neighborhood, and the car stalled. The lady driving the car, Hattie Dickson, lived in York, and whether or not she knew she was in the “wrong neighborhood” isn’t known. A back seat passenger, Lillie Belle Allen, who attempted to take over driving, was shot and killed when she exited the vehicle.
Late summer of 1990, I am calling on a customer, a garageman near the corner of 23rd & Jefferson Streets in Philadelphia. We’re discussing purchase of a state inspection analyzer, and he looks over my shoulder (my back is to the street), and says, “What the hell?”
I turn and there are several Ford vans northbound on 23rd, with their side doors open. Men in chrome yellow tee shirts over body armor are bailing out, and people are running everywhere. It turns out that a number of arrest warrants were being served on residents in the housing projects at that intersection. Blue and white marked cars descend on the area immediately thereafter. A uniformed officer stops, points at my vehicle, a Ford van with a firefighter’s light bar on the roof, and asks, “Who owns that?” I respond, “I do, Officer.” He asks, “What are you doing here?” “I’m a salesman for Allen Testproducts and I was speaking to this gentleman about…” He cuts me off and says, “Get in your truck, and get out of here, now. You’re not sellin’ anything today.” Me: “Yes, Sir.” It was a rough neighborhood, but on any other day, I’d not likely have run into trouble. I’m guessing the good officer was exercising risk reduction by telling me to beat feet, for which I cannot blame him.