Young Ted certainly could have passed for a dreaded hippie that summer night in 1969 at the Atlanta Civic Auditorium. Wild animal mane cascading down my back, purple bellbottom jumpsuit embroidered with colorful serpents slithering down my long legs, a freaky tooth, fang and claw necklace from critters I had actually killed myself and a pair of high-heel Beatle boots topped off my rock ‘n’ roll regalia for the evening’s performance.
Our hit record was titled “Journey To The Center of The Mind,” but I was probably the only drug-free person at the place.
My killer Detroit garageband The Amboy Dukes were the opening act for Soft Machine, Vanilla Fudge and Jimi Hendrix – and to say spirits were running rather high would be the understatement of the millennium.
Hustling backstage from dressing room to the stage itself, I encountered a small group of young men about my age who by all appearances were either Boy Scouts or some similarly outfitted group. As I attempted to open the door to the stage area, one of these young men, deftly giving himself a manicure with a small knife, promptly stepped between me and the door and made some mumbo-jumbo, strange twangy dialect that could have been the promo for “Hee Haw” or the movie “Deliverance.”
My interpretation was something along the lines of they didn’t cotton to “my kind” down here, and he and his friends were clearly meaning to block my path to the stage.
As a native Detroiter dedicated to my musical obligations, I didn’t miss a beat as I simply swung the door open while shoving my blockers to the side, all the while keeping my eye on knife boy.
I made it through the door no problem, but just a short distance down the hallway, in under a minute, I felt the hard-footed approach of someone behind me when I was body slammed to the floor by a piledriver from a very large, very angry Atlanta, Georgia, policeman.
Next thing I knew I was flat on my back with a very large Smith and Wesson model 28 .357 magnum revolver being screwed into my nose, hammer back, finger on the trigger.
This old boy was royally pi–ed off and let me have it with all the fury of a severely overweight Southern good ol’ boy that apparently was not pleased with such a hippie “assaulting” his young reserve deputies in training.
I had certain weapons on my person at the time, but all I did was keep my hands up and repeat, “Yes, sir; no, sir; anything you say, sir; I’m very sorry, sir; I apologize, sir; it will never happen again, sir; yes, sir …” over and over again, very humbly and very sincerely.
There is no question that had I shown a hint of resistance, I would have been dead right then and there.
Many years and many concerts later, I was driving home in Michigan from being deputized in Genesee County, when I found myself in a felony stop by four law enforcement vehicles, guns drawn, with lots of yelling and screaming going on.
It seems there was an APB (all points bulletin) of a stolen black Corvette in the region, and they were convinced they had their man.
Keeping my hands high on the steering wheel, I pulled over and obeyed every directive to the best of my ability.
When I followed their instructions to “get on the ground” my jacket rose up over my belt, thereby exposing my licensed handgun in my belt holster, and instantaneously everything got louder and very intense and dramatically escalated as the cops yelled “GUN! GUN! GUN!”
This is what they are trained to do to protect themselves and the society they serve.
Fortunately, even though I had a rather developed beard at the time, a couple of the officers took a closer look and identified me for who I am, and the tension de-escalated immediately.
In each instance, the conditions were as dangerous and volatile as they can get in the world of law enforcement. But I used my head, followed all orders to the absolute best of my ability, and I lived to tell the stories.
In the vast majority of instances where suspects are beat upon and/or shot, the most basic rules of logic and common sense were violated.
Rule 1: Obey the law. Adherence to this simple rule will dramatically reduce the possibility of encounters with law enforcement.
Rule 2: Don’t hang out with law breakers. Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who/what you are.
Rule 3: If stopped by the law, keep your hands absolutely visible. The No. 1 priority of all law enforcement is to get home each night alive. This is a very good rule of engagement.
Rule 4: Obey their instructions and commands promptly without any sass or escalated vocal responses. Such escalation has proven to the a precurser to violence.
Rule 5: Remain calm and polite no matter what happens. If you are wrongfully accused or arrested, such behavior will go a long way in mitigating and usually terminating the endeavor.
In this goofy world of political correctness and maniacal rush to judgment by much of society, a mostly dishonest “victim craving” media, and from an out of control, prejudiced government itself, it would be wise for parents and friends to educate everyone we can to these basic societal rules of engagement for responsible, sensible behavior.
We can all think of a number of instances where these rules could have saved lives, avoided injuries, saved reputations and reversed violent situations.
If the MotorCity Madman can figure this out, I am genuinely amazed at just how stupid a person would have to be not to get this.
Mothers, raise your children well.
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