The Rec-Center 3

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

312_stopthepresses.jpgThink the Jena 6 case couldn’t happen here?
Oh, yeah – it could.
“You’re going to need to break this up,” a security guard warned a group of African Americans outside the Augusta County Recreation Center in Fishersville two Thursday nights ago.
I was inside getting ready for a rec-league basketball game. My wife was outside chatting with her mother – and the three African Americans who were targeted by the rent-a-cop.
That’s right. It was three people.

“Mom and I were outside talking, and one of the people from the previous game asked us who was over there practicing,” my wife said, referring to the action taking place on a nearby set of football fields where players from the Wilson Little League were practicing.

“They thought it was the varsity or JV team from the high school, but …”
The missus and I had just walked up there to see the cheerleading teams practice – our nieces are on the cheerleading teams – so she knew the answer.

“So we were out there chatting about what a nice night it was to be out, and then …”

The security guard asked the African Americans to move on.

Wait. It wasn’t related to me that they were asked to move on.

“I’m going to call for backup,” the security guard said after offering the advice about “breaking this up.”

Did I mention that the rec league that I play in is a church league? That must have slipped my mind.

So three African Americans are talking to two Caucasian Americans outside a rec center after a church-league basketball game, and the security guard feels compelled to tell the African Americans to “break this up,” or she will “call for backup.”
“I’ve never been more offended in my entire life,” my wife said – and she wasn’t even among those who were singled out for what we can only call blatant injustice because of the color of her skin.

And neither was I – though you can add my name to the list of those offended by what happened, in addition to starting another list titled “Embarrassed.”

But to use the security guard’s word constructions, I’m “call(ing) for backup.

Because I’m not going to stand for this kind of nonsense here in my hometown – and I don’t want to be left standing alone on this one.


Chris Graham is the author of Stop the Presses: A Collection of Columns. More information on the book is available at


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