We in the USA can learn a thing or two from the people of Turkey. A couple hours after the announcement of the “Coup D’état,” on my way to my hotel, some roads were closed by, what seemed like, private citizens. Taxi drivers parked their cars in strategic areas of the roads. It resulted in the traffic going very slow and even, in some cases, the road being completely blocked.
On one corner a truck was turned crossways, blocking the road completely and forcing us and the traffic to make a u-turn. There were armed police officers at the truck instructing us to go back. I was not sure what kind of uniform they were wearing or to which branch of the police they belonged. What is important is that a car next to us stopped and a man got down from the car. I was busy watching one of the police officers who reach down to his gun holster without pulling it out. I turned my head toward the car seeing the door opening and the man came down. The officer did not pull his gun but kept his hand on it while the man walked toward him. At that moment the officer let go of his gun and the two men talked while my car left the scene.
For my fellow Americans who have never been here, you need to remember some fact about Istanbul. It is one of the most crowded cities in the world with 23 million people living in an area smaller than half of the city of Chicago. Next to the crowded Istanbul, the Chicago loop seems like a dormitory suburb of Chicago. People remain after midnight stalling in its street shopping dining, watching and being watch. Bars coffees and restaurants on the beaches almost never close. To understand also what we need to learn, we need to remember that the coup d’état started on a hot Friday night where most of Istanbul’s residents were out of their houses, and there was total lack of information about who did it and what is going on. The sky of the city was full of fighter jets roaring all night, and helicopters that no one really knew where they were going and what they were doing.
In spite of all these conditions and whatever you heard over the news, I could not witness a single act of vandalism. There was no riot, no windows smashed, no stores vandalized and no streets burned. The cool officer who did not pull his gun met the citizen who never vandalized a store. Even when a crowd climbed on a tank, a young man slapped the soldier siting with a machine gun in his hand, the soldier replied to him saying: “Bro, is not my fault. They told us that we are going to fight the terrorist”
We in the USA, we can ask ourselves why all the money spent on police training does not help stop the police from pulling their guns without the need for it. Additionally, on the other side there is an issue. We have the marginalized classes and African Americans facing the police brutality with riots and vandalism when calling for the respect of its rightful rights.
The Turkish gave us tonight an example. "Black Lives Matter” has been on the right side of the issue. But the way we are doing it keeps giving us a black eye.