Sunday, November 19, 2006

Last week, Houston Texans player Fred Weary was followed for six miles by Houston police, who finally pulled him over for an illegal lane change, and then told him he was also guilty of having a missing front license plate. As things progressed, Weary, an offensive lineman who does not have a reputation for misbehavior or a quick temper, ended up being handcuffed, Tasered and booked for resisting arrest.

Note that this occurred at one in the afternoon, not three in the morning. Here's how the Texans' fan blogger, herself an attorney, summed up the event.

And here's an excerpt from a story about the team's reaction:

"I've been with Fred since I got here, and I think so much of him that I'll give him the same kind of support I'd give a member of my family," quarterback David Carr said. "When I heard about it, I was kind of shocked. I thought something had to be wrong. Fred's a good guy. He never says anything bad about anybody."

Like Carr, guard Steve McKinney has been Weary's teammate for five seasons.

"Fred's a good guy," McKinney said. "He's a hard-working guy who keeps quiet. He's not an angry guy at all. He's mild-mannered. I've never known him to have a problem.

"When I heard that he was Tasered and taken into custody, I thought, 'No way. Not Fred.' There's just no way that could happen.

"I don't know the situation, but it's hard to imagine him losing control. In this locker room and on the field, Fred's a model player."

So the question in Houston: Was it an example of "driving while black" or something else?

But check out how the Chronicle asked the question:

What's your take on the Fred Weary taser incident?

The police overreacted.:
Weary was wrong to approach the officer.:
Not enough is known about the situation:

Total Votes: 948

"Not enough is known about the situation"??? Since when did media polls care about THAT sort of thing?

Somebody needs to go have a talk with these people. If instant on-line polls begin to fashion questions that allow for thoughtful, intelligent responses, they're just not going to get the hits they need.

Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know if the 49% voting to suggest the police overreacted are football fans foremost, and how many are also black men who have been carefully taught caution by their parents, like this respondent to the above linked blog summary.

I am a 37 year old African-American that has lived in the Houston area much of my life and I applaud you for this article. The only edit that I'd suggest is to change the title to "Fred Weary's arrest raises concerns about HPD." When I was 16 years old my father taught me what to do when (not if) I was pulled over by HPD to avoid being shot before I turned the ignition for the first time. It's a shame that I'd need to teach the same lesson to my son.

A story to follow -- but, meanwhile, kudos to the Chron for giving readers a chance to vote intelligently rather than simply setting out the torches and pitchforks to see which way the mob would take them.

(The illustration is from a very good, fairly new strip, "Watch Your Head," by Cory Thomas.)

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