The Heather Ellis case should be a lesson in civility for all no matter what your background

Heather Ellis could face 15 years on an assault charge

By Gregory Moore

It’s pretty easy to pull the ‘race’ card these days; even when it seems that a simple misunderstanding is the culprit behind the event.

Take the Heather Ellis case for example.

This is a prime case study of a lack of civility on all parties and yet now moral high ground, allegations of racial discrimination in the court of law and just an overall aspect of grown people acting like spoiled, entitled individuals who all need a time out session in the corner.

If you’re not familiar with the case, let me give a quick synopsis of what is going on.

Ellis, now 24 years old, was a college student visiting her family over the holidays in Kennett, Missouri in 2007.

Both her and her then 15-year-old cousin were at the local Wal-Mart and got into TWO separate lines.

Ellis, upon seeing that the line her cousin was in was moving a little quicker, got out of her line and joined his, inadvertently jumping in front of other customers.

Arguments, shoving and eventually Ellis being arrested all ensued from her jumping in line.

The local prosecutor said that he was going to be able to prove that Ellis, who was a pre-med student at the time, was the instigator had to recues himself and so far the trial is not going as they thought it would.

Witnesses are now recanting allegations on statements they told authorities.

A store surveillance video is not living up to the hype that everyone has made it out to be and the only witness, a police officer, is sticking by what he said he had to do in the situation.

VIDEO: Wal-Mart video of alleged assault by Heather Ellis (CNN)

But does the line-jumping mean she gets 15 years and being called a convicted felon?

Probably not and she shouldn’t be facing that type of charge.

However all the other things that have been said before this incident has even gone viral and public hasn’t helped one bit either. Meaning, the demonstrations, name calling and other stuff was and has been just that; stuff.

Now let me say this for a point of clarification. I do believe that this case is been hyper sensitized to a point to where it borders absurdity. What Dr. Boyce Watkins has done over the past several months, including a protest to help make sure Ms. Ellis gets a fair trial, is every bit important because she does deserve that much. And so for him and others to stand up for this young woman is noble and just.

But that is also where it ends.

The charge of racial injustice is very questionable and the 100% belief that Ms. Ellis didn’t instigate or accelerate the ordeal in dispute is equally questionable.

Her supporters should not be so quick to think she is this perfect angel because she isn’t.

Let’s look at what started this whole precipice of events that led her and her family to be spending thousands of dollars to defend a ‘moral’ high ground; her cutting in line.

For what reason?

What was her rush?

If she had a few items, why not hand them over to her cousin and tell him that she’ll wait for him in the car or by the entrance/exit?

Was she polite in asking the person behind her cousin if she could join him or marry their items together?

Those are things that should have been asked of her from the beginning of this ordeal two years ago.

Her supporters should also realize that there is no way in hell for her to be meek and humble.

I’m sorry but I don’t know of a Black woman who is meek and humble when facing confrontation. Even my own mother, when told of the events of why Ellis is on trial, questioned whether she was being a ‘Safire’ to everyone around her.

(Note to the unhip and city slickers: a ‘Safire’ is a woman who thinks she is entitled to everything and will get brazen, brash and down right belligerent when she doesn’t get her way.)

Now if a mother can pinpoint the problem, why couldn’t everyone else?

Because they didn’t want to see the civility of the issue; they wanted to prove their own points of view of the matter.

And thus we now have a near “Missourian’ stand-off of a town of 11,000 split along racial lines, a young woman who could become a felon and thus lose the chance at becoming a doctor and a group of people who may support her but who will move on to the next cause when this is all over in one fashion or another.

All because nobody in that line at the Wal-Mart that day wanted to act civil.

Disagreements are going to happen.

Arguments may ensue.

But going to jail because you wanted to be in the same check out line with your cousin isn’t worth the headache and misery that gets heaped upon you.

Do I think she is going to go to jail?

I hope not. I really hope the judge and jury in this case say “enough is enough” and basically sends everyone on their way to civility classes.

It should end that way because this case was all about people being inhospitable, uncivil towards each other and no in the holiday spirit.

Everyone involved in that check out line BEFORE Ellis was escorted outside are at fault. From the checkout person and store manager, to Ellis and those who were acting childish in the store.

So let this become some type of learning tool for all of us.

No matter what your background, you have to act civil towards the other person in public.

It may not be a mandate but let’s face it; it would be the right thing to do.

Or at least it will keep you from being in a potential courtroom.

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2 responses to “The Heather Ellis case should be a lesson in civility for all no matter what your background

  1. This is a generally balanced recount, but I would like to address a few points:

    “Ellis, upon seeing that the line her cousin was in was moving a little quicker, got out of her line and joined his, inadvertently jumping in front of other customers.”

    What is “inadvertent” about line-jumping? Does anyone believe that she didn’t *know* exactly what she was doing?

    “Arguments, shoving and eventually Ellis being arrested all ensued from her jumping in line.”

    Actually, not really true – at least, not the whole truth.

    First, from the video, it is clear that the only pushing and shoving going on is by Ellis herself, shoving her way into the line (repeatedly), and shoving her merchandise ahead of others’ merchandise (repeatedly).

    Second, her arrest and charges of felony ensued from her assaulting police officers when she resisted arrest for disturbing the peace and trespassing.

    You see, Ellis was *allowed to complete her transaction*, and was subsequently asked to leave the store. Thus, the line-cutting incident was allowed to pass. All Ellis had to do was *leave the store*.

    But she refused, multiple times, disturbing the peace and trespassing. When warned by the police that if she continued to refuse to leave the store, she would be arrested, she threatened the officer.

    When she was arrested, she made good on that threat, by assaulting two officers.

    Next:

    “But does the line-jumping mean she gets 15 years and being called a convicted felon?”

    No, but assaulting a police officer *does*.

    “Probably not and she shouldn’t be facing that type of charge.”

    Does anyone here *actually* think that, if convicted, she’ll get anything like a 15-year sentence? Really?

    “All because nobody in that line at the Wal-Mart that day wanted to act civil.”

    Where is the evidence – not merely Ellis’ allegation – that anyone else in the line acted uncivilly? From all evidence I’ve seen, the only disturbance of civility came from Ellis herself.

    “But going to jail because you wanted to be in the same check out line with your cousin isn’t worth the headache and misery that gets heaped upon you.”

    Again, had she merely left the store after being allowed to pay for her merchandise, she would not be facing trial today.

    She was allowed to pay. The manager asked her to leave. The police asked her to leave.

    She refused – and *that* was the root of her problems today.

    Continually blaming her trial today on her line-cutting helps nobody.

    Both the manager and the police were willing to leave her be, despite her boorish behavior. But she – Ellis – decided to escalate the situation.

    “Everyone involved in that check out line BEFORE Ellis was escorted outside are at fault. From the checkout person and store manager, to Ellis and those who were acting childish in the store.”

    How so? What did any of them do wrong?

    Was it wrong for the other patrons waiting in line to expect that Ellis wait her turn in line?

    Was it wrong for the other patrons waiting in line to get upset that Ellis line-jumped?

    Was it wrong for the cashier to continue checking out the other patrons – who had waited in line – rather than Ellis, while waiting for the manager to arrive?

    Was it wrong for the manager to ask Ellis to leave?

    I have seen no evidence whatsoever that anyone other than Ellis herself was in the wrong here.

    Aside from those points, I agree with you. Everyone would be better off if we all acted civilly toward others, no matter what our background.

  2. Good commentary. It is about doing the right thing. You can’t be half right. Our actions and reactions are either right or not right. One is not automatically guilty or innocent by color. Damn silly stuff for sure.

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