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A reluctant young Boy Scout comes face to face with DRANO, and earns his merit badge in "Reality."


We're going to kick off today's episode in the place of my birth - Detroit, Michigan. Shannon Cason is one of SNAP's favorite storytellers and people want to know why. I'll tell you why - because lots of people can tell a story - but Shannon, Shannon tells it like it is.


SHANNON CASON: When my mom left my dad, we moved from Detroit to Ecorse. Ecorse is one of the only suburbs outside of Detroit that Detroiters look down on. But I didn't think about it. I was just a 12-year-old kid growing up. I never did much wrong. I even got involved with the Boy Scouts of America. Well, it's like this - I really didn't want to become a Boy Scout, something about the name Boy seemed disrespectful. And that uniform with the little neckerchief and all the badges - yeah, I didn't see myself wearing that. But the Boy Scout meeting was in a gym and I love basketball.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Calm down guys.


CASON: The arrangement the troop leader made with me and my friends was if we become Boy Scouts, we would spend one hour in the Boy Scout meeting doing Boy Scouty things...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Everybody line up.

CASON: ...And the last hour he would throw out a basketball.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: All right guys, go play hoops.

CASON: Now, we didn't have to wear a uniform, so I was in.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Stop cherry-picking.

CASON: The only kid who did actually wear a Boy Scout uniform was the troop leader's son. And we would torture him for wearing it. So one day I'm on my way to my Boy Scout meeting, and I had a dollar so stopped at the corner store to get some Better Made Red-Hot chips and a Faygo Peach - my favorite. Now, I hate it when people talk bad about my neighborhood. But there was a drug raid going down at the corner store.


CASON: And these weren't regular police. These are like evil police. It was like the police were high on meth and they were chasing after the crack heads. The police were called to DRANO - the Downriver Area Narcotics Organization. That was their name - DRANO. And I remember I was standing watching as DRANO was cleaning up the streets. And they had on the combat gear and I'm watching - like I'm watching a cartoon of G.I. Joe, not thinking that I look like every other person that they're arresting. So one of the DRANO guys like Incredible Hulk leaps over to me and screams at me and throws me against the wall and then handcuffs me. They put us all in a van. The city didn't even have enough money for a proper paddy wagon. It was just a van with the seats taken out. It wasn't even orderly, we were just all stuffed in the back like slavery transport. They take us to this dungeon in the bottom of some building and they had us, like, lined up against the wall facing them. And it's dark in the room. And this may surprise some people, but then to some probably not so much, the police start whooping everyone's ass. One cop cut his hand punching someone. They just stomped that guy out. They got to me and I think they knew I was young. I wasn't even in high school yet. But they called me out and one of the officers - huge guy dressed like a ninja turtle - he asked me what you was doing out there? And I know he saw my fear, I told him I was just going to my Boy Scout meeting. And he smacked me. It was a smack so hard it took a while for the pain to catch up with the actual sound of the smack. Don't lie to me young man. What you was doing out there? I had to think about it, I think I was - yeah, I was actually headed to Boy Scouts. And he smacked me again. So I'm not dumb. The next time I just told him what he wanted to hear - sir, I was out there and I was I was on the corner and I was selling drugs. Then he didn't smack me anymore. They eventually called my mom to come pick me up. But she sends my dad, who's going to take his own time to get there. Then that officer who smacked me calls me out again. He's like - come here. I ain't going to hit you. Come here. And he said, I want you to know, you ain't got to live this life young man. I know it seems attractive. You see these guys, they've got the cars, the women, they rappin' about it. I grew up in the same neighborhood you did, young man. And I'm going to tell you that life doesn't pay. You either going to end up dead or in jail. And I tell you, you come to jail through me, I'm going to put my foot - and it wasn't pleasant things he was saying he would do to me - but he went on. The only reason I feel for you and know it's not all your fault is because your drug dealing dad just showed up smelling like a weed factory. I should throw Bob Marley in jail right now. They've got programs that can help you. They've got the DARE program, I'm involved in that, the Junior ROTC, I was involved in that. Get in one of these programs, young man. And I wanted to tell the guy my dad actually doesn't sell drugs. He's a good dad. He just smokes a little weed. And you really don't have the right to put your hands on me like that. And I can't help but go to the corner. That's where the store is at you big dummy. But of course I didn't say that. I said yes sir and left.


CASON: I told my dad everything that happened and my dad tells me that this is all a part of growing up in the streets we live in. I didn't want to accept that. But what I did do - I asked my dad to get me a Boy Scout uniform. And every time I went to the corner store before my meetings, I stood there drinking my pop, eating my chips just like before, just wishing I'd run into that DRANO cop again - so I could tell him I'm in a program you big dummy, it's called the Boy Scouts.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Coach, coach, why we can't practice longer?

WASHINGTON: Shannon Cason is a writer, an award-winning storyteller and now he's completing his very first crime novel. I wonder where he gets his material? You can find out more about Shannon's world on his website shannoncason.com. We're going to have a link on our website snapjudgment.org. That piece was produced by Mr. Mark Ristich.


WASHINGTON: Now on SNAP JUDGMENT, the rage against the machine episode continues. We're going to battle the most powerful artificial intelligence system ever conceived. We're going to run away from a pregnant lady and we're going to join high society. All that and more when SNAP JUDGMENT continues, stay tuned.

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