Recent events inspire conversations of race among Lowcountry men

Published: Dec. 6, 2014 at 12:11 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2014 at 12:59 AM EST
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Charleston police protocols part 2
Charleston police protocols part 2
Charleston County Sheriff's Office protocols part 1
Charleston County Sheriff's Office protocols part 1
Charleston County Sheriff's Office protocols part 2
Charleston County Sheriff's Office protocols part 2

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Appearance matters.

Nathaniel Drain, a Charleston barber, knows that all too well.

Owner of The Distinguished Gentlemen, a barber shop on Cannon Street, Drain works to tailor the appearance of Lowcountry men every day, but says his appearance, and that of his son, leave him susceptible to different treatment, and a different set of rules.

"We live in a very stereotypical world," he said.  "People judge you by your appearance."

Like many, he's watched as waves of protests surged throughout the country, many reacting to the shooting death of Missouri teen Michael Brown, or a police chokehold that led to the death of Staten Island man, Eric Garner.

"You have to understand the rules, and play within them," Drain said.  "If you can do that, you'll be okay."

Growing up, he says his mother taught him "the rules," rules he's now sharing with his sons.

"Sadly, if you look at the Trayvon Martin situation, if you put on a hoodie, or a cap, people think you have no intelligence at times because of the way you carry yourself."

In 2012, Martin, an unarmed teen from Miami, was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

"If you give respect, you'll get respect," Drain continued.

Others inside the downtown barbershop shared similar stories, sentiments.

Darryl Goodman, a retired military officer, questioned the training of officers involved in Brown and Garner's death, but hasn't lost faith in the legal process.

"I don't look at each officer and think that officer is not going to do the right thing, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt, which I hope they would give me," he said. "In our community, everyone was your father, everyone was your mother. If they were older than you, you showed them a level of respect as if they were."

John Gardner, 69, also a regular at the Charleston barber shop, suggests sensitivity training among law enforcement, as a means of improved race relations, and an avenue to build trust.

"Mature, well-trained policeman could've handled situations far better than what we've seen and heard about in the media," he said.

"Any authority, all authority, needs to be respected, but it's a reciprocating thing as well," Drain said.

Live 5 News reached out to several Tri-County law enforcement regarding current protocol during a traffic stop, or on a field interview.  You can see the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and Charleston City Police guidelines to the right of this article.

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