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Bullies and Bad Hair in Philly

What's crackin', friends and frienemies?

Another Friday, another day, another 90 cents.

My column in today's Miami Herald is about the sad likelihood that a recent victim of hardcore bullying will be menaced again by knuckleheaded kids, and how the bullies are driven by pack mentalities.

Wherever you live, over the past few months you've probably heard or seen the story of Michael Brewer, a 15-year-old South Florida kid who was surrounded by five now-former friends in his neighborhood, ranging in age from 13 - 15 and set afire for reporting them to authorities for trying to steal his dad's bike and for allegedly owing one of 'em money for a video game purchase. Brewer suffered severe burns and was in the hospital for months recovering. He's out and started at a new school a couple days ago. The kids who torched him have been charged with crimes. But I spoke with experts who say a new pack of bullies will probably single him out 'cause they think he's vulnerable now. Hope the experts are wrong, but these are people whose expertise is built on preventing new Columbines from happening.

Anywho, you can read the whole column here. Check it out, come back here, tell me what you think.

Moving right along, here's an interesting story: A cop in Philadelphia bought a hair color kit, 'cause she thought crimson - the color labeled on the box - would be neato. She dyed her locks, showed up to work the next day, and was quickly confronted by a supervisor who told her to lose the purple hair 'cause it was a violation of the Philly Police Department's rule against officer's having "unnatural" hair color. The cop said her hair wasn't purple, but rather red. They bickered for a bit over the fine points of hair dye and the difference between crimson, red, and purple. In the end, the supervisor sent the officer home a couple of times and even had her photographed mugshot style for evidence. So she sued, arguing it was a hair color she'd worn for seven years prior as a cop and had never gotten a complaint from the bosses.

My first reaction is that this was a silly fight. I really don't care what color a cop's hair is. I honestly don't think I'd view that officer as more or less credible or authoritative based on his/her hair color. If it was lime green or something, I might find it distracting and annoying, but I'd still probably listen if a lime green-haired cop weilding a nightstick or mace...or gun, was headed in my direction.

My second reaction though is this wasn't a rule the supervisor pulled out of his wig. This was a written rule in the PDP and had been in place long before Ofcr. Purple decided to get creative. So what's her beef? It was a rule. The supervisor thought her crimson was a little too out there. At worst it was a difference of opinion over purple and crimson. No?

Anyway, Philly PD has a hair problem. A year or so ago, another cop showed up with braided/cornrowed hair, and he was put on desk duty till he agreed to cut it. Think you know what his beef was about? If you guess race, you guess wrong. Ofcr. Cornrow was a white cop!

PS. Follow me, please, at twitter.com/jamesburnett.


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You know James my comment on nightclubs was a little misleading. My night clubbing days were in my 20' and 30's. I was single and looking. I saw a lot of fights back then. Usually over a women. I did see several bar room brawls that would fit into your group violence bully theory. Gruops are a form of power in the human and animal world. Fish swim in schools and lions hunt in prides. We have gangs and we have bullies. The group thing reinforces their need to be powerful and their feeling that they have the right to be a bully. Its all about power I guess. Great article. Hey send me a list of your night spots seems like you may have a good thing going here with all that lovin going on! Keep on writing!

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