White guy asks “when is it okay to call the police?”

So this happened yesterday during the early morning walk with the pups on High Street near Brookdale Park. From across High Street I saw a man on all fours trying to stand up with great difficulty. The time was around 8:30am on a Saturday morning with light traffic and I considered crossing the street to see if I could help but my two pups had other things on their minds. After a minute the man managed to upright himself, then suddenly without warning he abruptly staggered out into the street mid-block stopping traffic in both directions. He somehow remained upright and miraculously arrived to this side of High Street without incident and navigated his way to the corner bus stop where he slammed himself into the seats.

High Street and Brookdale, Oakland

High Street and Brookdale, Oakland

I approached and asked if he was okay? “I’ve been better” was his reply. He was obviously extremely intoxicated with bloody cuts and scrapes on his hands. He also had a swollen eye and large painful looking scrapes on his cheek and forehead.

I asked if he knew where he was? He said “no”. I asked where he was from? “Santa Rosa” was the answer. I told him he was in Oakland. He looked really confused. How did you get here? He couldn’t remember. He asked me where Amtrak is? I explained but he was unable to comprehend anything I was trying to say. I asked “what happened to your face and hands?” He said he was jumped and beaten somewhere, couldn’t remember where or the reason.

I explained that I wanted to help him and asked if there was anyone I could call? He mumbled something about his kids and he managed to give me a phone number. I asked him his name before calling the number. A female answered and I said “hello my name is John and I’m in Oakland. Ray is here with me. Do you know Ray?”  “Yes” was her reply and I felt immediate relief.

I went on to explain that he seems to have been beaten up overnight, not too serious but he does need some help. I said he’s not functioning very well and I’m afraid for his safety. I asked if she was able to come for him or did she know of someone I could call for help? Without hesitation the woman said “no, I’m about an hour and half away and he’s burned all bridges with me. Thanks for being concerned but I cannot help him and I don’t know anyone else who can” and she hung up the phone.

I told Ray that she was unable to help and he seemed okay or unfazed with that.

At this point I wasn’t sure what else I could do for Ray, all I knew was that I could not in good conscience leave him alone in this condition. I said I would try to get help and stepped away for a minute so my dogs could do their thing.

Without other options I phoned the non-emergency number for Oakland Police Department and explained the situation. The dispatcher was friendly and caring, she told me she’d send an officer over. I told her I’d wait until the police arrived.

Two OPD officers arrived in about 5 minutes time. They spoke with me separately asking me a few questions before approaching Ray who was still seated in the bus stop.

I left the scene and walked my dogs around the park. As I returned I watched one of the officers handcuff Ray leading him toward a squad car. I crossed the street as the other officer crossed toward me. He explained they would be charging Ray with public intoxication and locking him up to sober up. I thanked the officer for their ‘help’.

The officers seemed kind, caring, and non-judgmental and for the most part I felt a sense of relief they were taking over. I looked at Ray and he looked right at me and said “you called the cops, why?”. Suddenly everything changed. He looked even more broken. In that split second everything changed and I thought what have I done?

Everything changed when I saw him in handcuffs. Did I do the right thing?

Everything changed when I saw him in handcuffs. Did I do the right thing? (This photo is from the net)

Ray is African American, I am white. In my lifetime I have had only good positive experiences with police so it seemed like a reasonable solution for me to call OPD.

When I made the call I wasn’t considering color, his history, or culture. As a black male, what experiences with police has Ray had? I couldn’t know. I then started thinking about the neighborhood and community I am proud to call home. My neighborhood is primarily black. I love East Oakland, rich in culture and community, there’s no other place I’d rather be. I worried if neighbors watching are seeing me as the white dude who called the cops on a black guy. The cops thanked me the white dude as they hauled the black guy away. Yes the cops thanked me for calling which somehow made me feel worse….. The white cop just thanked me the white guy for calling police on the black guy as they’re hauling him away…. In that moment I felt deeply for Ray. I also felt extreme guilt for any harm I may have caused him. Did I do the right thing? Did I help Ray or make matters worse for him?

This happened yesterday morning and I’ve been thinking about it for over 24 hours now. It’s weighing heavy on my mind.

Did I do the right thing? When is it okay to call the police?

Please share your comments below.

Is Koko’s Gorilla Foundation Exploiting the Tragic Death of Robin Williams?

First off, there’s no denying the video of Koko the gorilla meeting Robin Williams is magical. Koko and Robin definitely hit it off, and why wouldn’t they? She’s a humanized gorilla with a nipple fetish and Robin (on this day) was her new boy-toy bosom buddy. The set up is a comedian’s wet dream.

But seriously, why would Penny and Ron even tell Koko about the tragic death of Robin Williams? Oh that’s right, they claim Koko overheard phone conversations before coming to Penny “with an inquisitive look on her face”. Well the story on their website has evolved since it first appeared, tweaking it up for dramatic affect? In fact, they must have been in a hurry because the latest version (as of this writing) has a few holes/typos (see below excerpt). In the original piece Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson was called “Koko’s surrogate Mom” but that reference disappeared the following day.

From Koko’s website:

“August 11, 2014

In 2001, Robin Williams was invited to meet Koko, the gorilla who communicates in sign language, at The Gorilla Foundation in northern California (see photo above). We had no idea what to expect, but everyone was in for a treat, and they became very special friends.

On Monday, Aug. 122, the day news broke of Williams’ passing, Koko and Penny and Ron (Drs. Patterson and Cohn) were together when phone calls started coming in about the sad event.  After the first all, Koko came to Dr. Patterson with an inquiring look on her face.  Dr. Patterson explanied that “we have ost a dear friend, Robin Williams.”  Koko wa quiet and looked very thoughtful (see photo bottom left).

More phone calls about the news came in, and Koko overheard one from a former colleague who had worked with Williams while he filmed a public service announcement for The Gorilla Foundation (based on his visit with Koko) in 2003.  The colleague’s voice broke at the end of the conversation.  About a half an hour later, Koko signed to Penny:  “CRY LIP” (LIP is Koko’s sign for woman).

At the end of the day, Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering (see photo bottom right).”

Click here for Gorilla Foundation Website “Koko Remembers Robin Williams”.

What about those two images of Koko looking “thoughtful” and “somber with her head bowed?” I worked as a TGF Gorilla Caregiver from 2009-12 and can assure you I’ve seen this very same thoughtful somber bowed look on Koko five days a week every week for three years. This is Koko’s look, well a frequent one anyway. She’s a sad somber looking gorilla. The truth is she catnaps sitting up with her head bowed and lip drooping several times throughout the day. At night Koko will sometimes sleep in this position too. She likes it or it feels comfortable for her. Koko’s droopy lip was/is a daily topic in staff discussions, journal entries, emails, and phone calls with Penny.

We staff knew of and talked about Koko’s visits from Robin Williams and other celebrities but I never once heard mention of the following claim issued by the Koko camp, “Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over 6 months, ever since her lifelong gorilla companion, Michael, passed away at the age of 27.”

And finally, Drs. Patterson and Cohn didn’t think to videotape (for scientific purposes) the somber scene as Penny broke the news to Koko, like they did when spilling the beans after her kitty friend ‘All Ball’ was killed by a truck?



TGF says “Koko responds to the news of Robin’s passing”. Oh yeah? Well this is how she responds to just about everything.


TGF says “Koko looks somber after it sinks in”. Interesting because this is how she naps all day every day, sitting upright with a droopy lip. She looks sad every day. Helloooo, she’s lived alone in a trailer for more than 40 years, talk about #depression