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Manteca man pens poignant message we all need to heed
snaer and wife
Demetrius Snaer poses with his wife, Melissa. Snaer is a 1993 East Union High graduate and Manteca resident. He has served as the head track coach at Modesto Junior College for years.

I woke up Sunday morning hoping to pen a column – something light and anecdotal. I’ve wavered from diving in the political and social commentary pool in writing this, but sometimes you read a message that is so impactful, it must be shared. This was written by Demetrius Snaer. Father. Coach. Athlete. Mantecan. Lancer. Friend. Black Man.

Here it is:

“I cried halfway through my 4-mile run this morning.

Why did I cry? Because yesterday I read about a black kid from Stockton who was out for a jog and he was stopped and handcuffed by Stockton PD because he fit the description of someone who was accused of looking through people’s yard.

Why did I cry? Because while jogging down Union Road this morning, in an attempt to social distance from another approaching runner, I moved as close to the wall as I could and I noticed that my eyes were right above the wall level and I was staring into someone’s backyard.

Why did I cry? Because 3 minutes later I heard faint sirens from a fire truck through my earbuds and the first thing I thought was the police were coming because someone called and said I was looking in their backyard.

Why did I cry? Because my brother-in-law is a white police officer who has been called to go to Oakland to do his job and I know that no matter how good a person he is, he is being lumped in with the murderers who killed George Floyd.

Why did I cry? Because his 3 sons, my nephews, are half black and no matter how great they are as students and athletes, they could someday meet the same fate because of the color of their skin.

Why did I cry? Because some of you think that last statement is an overreaction and you really don’t understand that it is a real feeling that many black people have.

Why did I cry? Because my sister has to worry about her sons and her husband when they leave the house for 2 different reasons. Both are unfair.

Why did I cry? Because my good friend who has been a firefighter for over 25 years has 3 sons and he felt the need to write an open letter to the police letting them know that his sons have been advised to comply if they are pulled over and to please give them a chance.

Why did I cry? Because my black friends who are pillars of society, the best fathers I have ever met, have felt the same way in the past few weeks, months and years.

Why did I cry? Because rather than start our workout 2 days ago, I had a long conversation in the car with my daughters about all the emotions they are feeling about our country today.

Why did I cry? Because even though I’m not without flaws, I have represented myself well as a husband, father, athlete and educator. And although I know many of the officers in this area, I have been pulled over more than 3 times in the surrounding cities for nothing more than the color of my skin.

Why did I cry? Because I love this city and even though people love me as their neighbor, their kid’s coach, teacher, or trainer, I still have to wonder if they really understand the pain that I feel when I watch a black man get murdered in the streets and watch the anger from it manifest itself on television every night. The emotions I feel watching all this is unexplainable. It's hurt, anger, pain, shame, and embarrassment.

Why did I cry? Because even though some of you know me; you don’t really know me.

Why did I cry? Because I know that in order for me to pull some of you in, I have to state that I am absolutely against looting and assaulting and/or murdering innocent people and police officers. Because like I said, some of you know me; but you still don’t really know me.

Why did I cry? Because I have to admit that the guy you see making funny TikToks and always trying to put on a good face has been hiding the pain and PTSD that he feels from years of experiencing and witnessing police brutality, unlawful arrests, harassment, assault and murder.

Why did I cry? Because I know that some of you are reading this and still thinking that my rebuke of bad policing is a rebuke of you, your husband, dad, or brother as a police officer.

Why did I cry? Because many of my friends and former student-athletes are officers and became officers because they wanted to fix the problem from within. They know that I am with them and it is because I do not want corrupt cops putting their lives in jeopardy.

Why did I cry? Because I felt exactly like Tre felt in the scene from Boys N the Hood. Helpless. Like I wanted to hit something, but really there's nothing to hit.

I literally cried halfway through my 4 mile run because I heard sirens and was overcome with emotions. And now I am sitting here opening up to you. I am being as candid as I possibly can. Our country is at a crossroads.

We need unity.

We need justice.

We need peace.”