Austin. City of music. City of heart.
We’ve been on tour with SOJA for a while now so last night when Jacob asked me to sing with them on their encore I was super stoked. But when he suggested I sing “change is gonna come” by Sam Cooke I was pretty much speechless. It took a while to open up because, while I spend my life singing songs I’ve written, singing one of my favorite songs with one of my favorite bands in front of 1200 souls no less, was giving me nervous case of the butterflies.
Fortunately for me Jacob, Chase, and Nahko are great and encouraging brothers and through their encouragement I walked away from soundcheck confidant, ready, and incredibly excited to honor one of my heroes in the offering of another hymn of hope. When the time came to rock it, we did. All the fire, the joy, the exhilarating bliss we so devoutly seek and serve was there for us and the crowd? What they give back to us can’t be quantified. It’s a soul currency that nourishes so true and deep and if I could hug every person who was there last night, I would.
So afterwards we’re grooving and laughing and high-fiving and celebrating another joyful evening with our beautiful family when I take a little dip out into the streets on a whim. I turn the corner and what do I see but 5 large male police officers very aggressively handling two women on the curb. There is a small crowd standing around but no one seems motivated or moved enough to help or say anything. The one girl starts to scream and cry saying “WE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG, YOU’RE HURTING US, YOU’RE CRAZY” and so the officer responds by grabbing her BY HER THROAT and slamming her head into the curb, shaking her violently saying “YOU WANT A FELONY? IF NOT YOU BETTER SHUT YOUR F&&*&*& MOUTH”
Can you imagine this scene for a moment? Aren’t the police supposed to protect the people? Here are two women being ASSAULTED on the side of the street to the point of hysterics, literally pleading for mercy, and these guys are getting more and more worked up telling the women their beating, as they continue to beat them, to quit “resisting.” What would you do in that situation? If tables were turned and a group of men were beating a woman, would you call the cops? So what do you do when the cops are the ones doing the beating?
So. At this point I look around and everyone is just staring in awe and as the cop is shaking this poor woman by her neck her slip falls off- leaving her exposed and naked and bloody in the street.
This is beyond me. I ask the people around me “Is this how we treat our women? shouldn’t we protect our women? shouldn’t we be gentle with out women?”
Just then two older men in suits walk up. Let me remind you that these 5 cops are still working over these poor girls. they keep saying they can’t breathe with spit flying from their mouths, tears in their eyes, spasming naked in the street, and here come the richest looking upper class men around.
This is the part of the story where honor and integrity and pretty much every hope I’ve ever had for the world is reinforced with strength, encouragement, and life.
As these well-to-do men stare at the scene I catch one of them in the eye and ask him the same thing, “Brothers, don’t you think they should be kinder to those girls? don’t you think they should be gentle? look at her? she’s crying and naked and he’s just shaking her? will you help me?”
I turn to the cops and say “please be gracious, please be humane, you’re so much stronger and you’re obviously hurting them. can’t you at least cover her?”
The two business men walk up behind me and join in saying, “have some respect! that’s no way to treat a woman! HEY! Cover her!!”
and what do you know? the biggest cop gives us the darkest glare, walks over to the cops doing the beating, pulls the girl out, lifts her slip back on, and puts her in the car.
The scene went on with a different vibe. The cops faded out of their bloodlust and looked a little embarrassed while they made themselves busy dispersing the crowd. The one cop never took his eyes off me, just then a nice group of girls from the show came up and asked for a picture and the night slipped back into the bliss of music when I met back up with the crew and we danced the night away. Still, that incident gave the night an even brighter lining. As much as I was sad about those poor girls as disgusted at the cops behavior, I was so deeply inspired and encouraged that it was those well dressed older gentlemen who helped make that situation right sending my own subtle prejudice out the door.
I guess you never really know who is going to come to your aid. In that moment I felt so powerless as these poor women were being attacked and the people I least expected to help stood beside me, as brothers, as men, and met the abusive power of those cops with an appeal of reason and decency and in turn, their attack turned into an arrest, and within minutes it was like nothing ever happened.
I’ll never forget those two men, ever. I can’t thank them enough for being brave enough to stand up for what’s right. Blessings on them, wherever they are!
Anyway, it’s time for another show. Tonight we’re playing the House of Blues in Dallas! God bless Texas and may good and gentle things begin to blossom in the hearts of aggressive men.
Bless the police.