A Police Officer, a Homeless Black Man and an NBA Star: A Story of Character

A Police Officer, a Homeless Black Man and an NBA Star: A Story of Character

Obviously, there are serious tensions and real problems between the police and the black community across the country. Every black person in this country knows that being stopped on the street by the police is one of the more dangerous moments in life – something white people cannot understand. Addressing this will require police departments to make significant changes in their legal, political economic, historical, and social structures. But, as necessary and critical as substantive structural changes are, these are also psychological and ethical challenges. Law can protect equal treatment and equal rights but ultimately the character of those with power is determinative.

Last Monday, an officer from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department stopped at a red light near an exit off a highway where a homeless man named Fred frequently panhandled and cleared trash. The cop didn’t pull over to give him a ticket or to hassle him. Instead, he took a new pair of boots from his trunk and gave them to Fred.? Watch this report to see what Fred did with the boots. Roy Hibbert, star center of the Indiana Pacers was driving by and captured the scene – he surely must have thought something else was about to come down. Hibbert’s posts went viral.




In today’s environment this was not a random act of kindness. This was intentional. And it went viral because despite our being hardwired to be more alert to negative news, we want a kinder world. The police officer has not come forward with his identity.

Character is what you do when no one is watching. But, there is always someone watching.

Irwin Kula

Irwin Kula is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Irwin's writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and the Washington Post. He is the author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life and a co-editor of The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices. Irwin has appeared on NBC's The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The O'Reilly Factor and PBS Frontline. Irwin also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.

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