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Picking My Battles

As a write this, I’m a little angry.

Actually, I’m really angry.

And even though my neighbor is laughing at my outrage and my husband is telling me not to embarrass him, I feel the need to share my anger.

registrationEvery day, I take my dog for a walk through the park by my house. The PUBLIC (as in partly paid for by taxpayer dollars) park by my house. Sometimes, we even go there twice a day and enjoy a leisurely stroll.

Not tonight.

When I arrived at the park, there was caution tape haphazardly strewn up around a large section of the park. It had obviously been put there by amateurs, and I stepped over it.

I continued up a hill as a shrill voice called after me.

“Ma’am, you can’t walk here.”

I ignored the voice, partly because I just don’t like being called ma’am.

The voice got closer.

“Ma’am, you can’t walk here.”

I turned around.

“You have to leave, you aren’t allowed in this area. We are holding an event for Cub Scouts and you’re a security risk.”blocked playground

A security risk? Really? I gave her a look that said as much, but my words were “This is a public park. I walk here every day.”

“We rented it.” she said.

“I have a hard time believing that,” I said. “You can rent a shelter, but you can’t rent a section of the park.”

The woman, who wasn’t in the best of shape and had obviously exerted herself chasing after me, tried to puff out her chest and exude her importance in her orange day-glow vest, “We did. ” she said. “And you can’t be here.”

I didn’t want to get in a fight. I just wanted to walk up the hill, but I turned around muttering under my breath.

Apparently, I’m loud even when I mutter under my breath.

Three young people, who had also been chased off, smiled at me and pumped their fists. “Power to the people,” one of the young men said. We walked together along the outside the park fence, and when we approached the “open” section of the park, we said goodbye.

But I wasn’t done.

As I watched more “security guards” (i.e. parents in orange vests) walking the perimeter of the taped-off section of the park, three more young people, one of whom was carrying a basketball, walked down the hill from the PUBLIC basketball court.

“Were you chased out too?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am,” said one of the young men said, and I didn’t mind that he called me ma’am because he said it with respect.

“Don’t worry.” I said. “I’m going to complain on behalf of all of us.”

They nodded and walked off with their shoulders slumped while the Cub Scouts (all 15 or so of them) cheered behind them.

bbcourtI’m sure the Cub Scouts weren’t cheering because the teens had been chased off, but the sound made me even angrier.

I walked the perimeter taking pictures with my phone.

One of the parents in an orange vest, this time a man, asked if he could help me.

“I’m just taking pictures,” I said. Then I clarified, “but not of the few boys you are protecting. I’m not a security risk. I’m just taking pictures of how you aren’t letting me use a public park.”

There was no answer.

Maybe I AM blowing this out of proportion, and I DO understand the need to protect young children.

But I have issues with how this whole situation was handled.

Every day, there are dozens of children playing on the playground that was blocked off, and no one has ever before prevented me from walking my dog there. If the parents were that concerned about security, there are plenty of other more private and secure locations where they could have held their event. Even if the group had rented the park, and not just a shelter, they could have actually put up polite signs rather than tape that signaled anyone who crossed it was a criminal.

Most of all, there just weren’t enough boys attending the event to outweigh the members of the public who were prevented from using the PUBLIC facilities.

And all of that means I’m angry.  I am angry not only about the arrogance with which I was confronted but also about the self-righteousness with which I was told I was a security threat.

And because of that, this is one battle I am willing to pick.

Late comment: For those who think the park was well-marked and I should have walked away, here’s what it looked like from where I entered:   entrance

tents