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July 26, 2011 / bastiak

Suspicion: Mysterious Men, Imaginary Guns, and the Media…

This evening, my husband Josh and I were biking around some streets that we hadn’t really explored yet near the center of town. We saw a guy turn the corner and walk straight toward us down the middle of a rather nice residential street. He didn’t seem to care if a car might be driving up the street. There was something in his stance that gave me the creeps a little. He was pretty tall and with meaty football player shoulders, probably in his 40s. He had a bit of a paunch but also seemed really strong. I watched him reach into a pocket in front of him and pull his hand out. I couldn’t really see his hand. He was maybe 20 yards away and silhouetted in a tree-shaded street at dusk. I braced myself for the worst.

The thought that had popped into my head was about the shooting/bombing in Norway. Josh and I stopped after we had passed him, turned the corner onto a more main street, and then went a little ways more. Josh mentioned noticing the same guy, saying he had a bad feeling about him, especially “after the thing in Norway…” Since we both had the same thought about this guy for the same reason, I was left wondering how much of my feeling was paranoia inspired by the media, and how much was instinct. And, “what about Virginia Tech”? Josh asked. What if someone had a feeling and actually acted on it? Would things have been different? Josh described picking up on a certain vibe about the guy…that he was holding something negative inside that had palpable density, like a brick wall. That’s what I thought of later when I read this AP article about the Oslo attack where Stephen Lennon, leader of the English Defense League, describes the state of Europe as a factor in the incident:

“It’s a ticking time bomb. If they don’t give that frustration and anger a platform as such and a voice — and a way of getting emotion out in a democratic way — it will create monsters like this lunatic.”

What if this man is a “ticking time bomb” for some reason? He didn’t do anything that we can actually report. He just seemed angry, and was walking down the middle of the street practically in the dark. That’s a little odd, but not exactly a crime. But what if our instinct was right? And, by the way, there is no racial stereotype here because I couldn’t tell if he was white, Hispanic, or Pueblo. He would have been any of those predominant groups of Taos. He just seemed on a mission, possibly angry, and quite powerful.

And how much of our collective consciousness, and therefore judgements and behaviors, are inspired by media attention? I have seen statistics where in some instances crime rates aren’t rising where they are  to. It is just that the more we hear about crime, the more we think there is and the more we worry about it. Maybe we both picked up on something tiny that amplified in our minds, minds that might be expecting shooters to jump out of the bushes. It kind of surprised me though that we were thinking the same thing. It wasn’t something we had talked about much and we don’t have TV.

So, what should we do? Tell the police to “keep an eye out”?? Like they care. Do you trust your instincts in situations like this, maybe someone you find yourself alone with in a parking garage? What would you do?

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2 Comments

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  1. ann / Jul 27 2011 8:16 am

    Yup

    Does not usually do much good to report those things, even though the police say they encourage it. I reported that sort of thing in a convenience store by the interstate. There was a group of angry looking young men , some in the store, and some by the gas pumps.
    No one ever came even though the place was a regular “cop hangout”.
    I have called and reported angry, intimidating and obviously drunk drivers on the interstate as well….nothing. Soooo….what DO we do? Vigilanti-ism isn’t legal……but we CAN be vigilant

  2. Amber Schon / Jul 27 2011 10:54 am

    I say trust your instincts and report him to the police for suspicious behavior. Is there a neighborhood watch program? If so, consider joining it or at least making them aware of the person.

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