The police acted horribly to NBA player Sterling Brown but what he did was messed up

The police acted horribly to NBA player Sterling Brown but what he did was messed up
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

From all indications, what the police did to Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown was racially motivated, inexcusable and terribly, terribly wrong.

Brown didn't deserve to be tackled, tased and terrorized. Even Police Chief Alfonso Morales and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett admitted as much, both going into apology mode after the story broke.

Here's the part that still gets my goat: Parking illegally in designated handicapped parking spaces is wrong, and if you don't know that, there's something wrong with you.

The fact that Brown parked across--not one but at least two--handicapped parking spaces shouldn't be glossed over, yes, even at 2 a.m. when it's unlikely that a person with mobility issues will need a parking space.

Why? Because you never know. Besides, if a person who qualifies to park in one of those spaces wants to go to Walgreens in the middle of the night, that's his or her business--whether it's for medicine, a tube of Colgate or a beer run.

My cousin Rick Kahen is the Chairman of the Commission for Residents with Disabilities in Buffalo Grove. He lost is left leg to bone cancer 46 years ago when he was just 23.

Handicapped parking space abuse is an "epidemic, a huge problem," said Rick. "People with disabilities fight this all the time. There's no excuse for it to happen. And it has nothing to do with who he (Brown) is and what he does for a living."

Retired Chicago Police Lieutenant Bob Angone and fellow ChicagoNow blogger  said, "Parking in a handicapped spot knowingly is an arrogant act. It's privilege personified."

Bob Angone knows A LOT about the problem. In 2011, when he was working as a police officer, he was chiefly responsible for a sting operation between the police and the Sun-Times which uncovered hundreds of handicapped parking placard cheaters, saved millions of taxpayer dollars and changed laws.

But Sterling Brown doesn't appear to get it. He said, “I could’ve just got a ticket, went home, paid however much money, and that should’ve been that.”

Maybe. Or maybe you shouldn't be making lives harder for people who already have gotten a bad break. Mr. Brown, doing what you did is not a nothing burger.

The police shouldn't have treated you like you were a member of Al-Queda. But I don't think they should just have given you a measly parking ticket either (which as an NBA player you could easily pay and would mean zilch to you.).

This is how I'd roll if I were queen of the world: I'd sentenced you to live in a wheelchair 24-hours a day for the next six months. Maybe, just maybe, you'd come away with some humility and an ounce of empathy.

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    It really gets to me when some people including Brown call this egregious act a minor traffic offense. Set aside the arrogance and entitlement of parking in a handicap space and think of the wheelchair bound individual who is dependent on this right for his or her every day challenges. When you put Chicago's and Milwaukees weather into the equation it is virtually impossible for the handicapped to get through the day when this takes place. I spent a year of my life when I retired to expose this situation in Chicago. I had no support except for one Reporter who listened and decided to expose it in several news stories. When the law was finally changed, It was a two fold victory not only for the millions of dollars saved that Chicago's tax payers were coughing up to the meter company but it also opened these parking spaces up for the truly needy. Thanks to Judy Marcus for pointing out that calling it a minor traffic infraction is a terrible injustice.

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