Ken Akers tells this story of his time growing up in Kearns.
“I drive back to the old neighborhood where I grew up. I drive down the street and I drive to certain particular spots to reflect,” Akers said.
Akers took social media by storm because he stood up to a crowd of looters outside of a downtown Salt Lake City 7-Eleven store. Akers is a tall athletic former military policeman whose commanding presence came across in the smartphone video.
Asked to share a story of his experience as a black man, Akers didn’t talk about his time in the Navy, or his experience at the protests on Saturday.
He talked about his first years in elementary school in Kearns in the 1970’s:
“You know, I immediately got labeled as the bad kid in the class.
“I was placed in the administrative closet. That was inside the principal’s office that they kept the cleaning gear. They kept the soda…Back then during that time they filled the vending machines with the glass Coca-Cola bottles…so I just put two and two together and thought ‘Hey man, the next time these guys put me in the closet, I’m gonna drink up all their soda!’
“I guess the principal at this time had had enough of me. And so when my father got down there we sat at the end of his desk, and the principal began to tell his story, and I’ll tell you what, I was scaaaared of my father!
“I remember looking up at my dad and I could see the quiver when you do become emotional and you become angry or whatever and I remember he slowly panned over and looked at the principal and he told the principal, ‘You have had my son locked in a closet?’
“Right then, I noticed a whole shift.
“If I would have went down a path of being a criminal or doing the things that go along with that kind of stuff, no one would have been able to unveil why I was triggered to do so."
“I mean the human psyche is such a mystery."
“And the things that I bring up to you, are the things that are still happening today because people are that naïve. They don’t understand what they’re doing to the youth and the youngsters that are out there and so they’re inadvertently or accidentally changing these young people’s lives before they know it.”