The recent Michael Brown affair in St. Louis has reminded me of a similar earlier event. In 1977 a high school classmate of mine named Ron Burkholder was shot and killed by an LA police officer after being confronted for bizarre behavior, namely running naked through the street and playing Don Quixote at the mill, tilting in this case at a phone booth. At least one witness said he had his hands up when the cop fired.
Ron was the classic high school intellectual. Quiet, speaking mainly only to the other bright boys. I cannot remember his non-academic interests. He earned a scholarship to Johns Hopkins. He walked away from his high school graduation over some petty nonsense with a petty administrator, his scholarship having obviated the need for a diploma.
He later graduated in chemistry according to online sources (I never saw him after HS). He had various research interests, apparently including the wonderful world of recreational chemistry, which perhaps contributed to his tragic end, given the testimony of his behavior that night.
The affair led to considerable public outcry, and the city police and many other agencies were forced to change their use of force policies as a result.
One Richard Cohen produced a documentary of the event in 1980. The excerpts are eerily evocative of the past month in MO; only the races are changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.
It’s interesting how the news media, who are of course now made up of people younger than the event, have not made the connection. I asked around among people I know who knew him, and even some classmates are unaware of it.
If you're interested, a Google search on "ron burkholder lapd deadly force policy jerry brown william gates" will give you a good starting point.
News Views: TCHS Alumni News Log
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