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The first time I met David Miller, he told me why he had made his life's mission the saving of black boys and young men from violence: One of his friends, Donald Bentley, had been shot to death in Baltimore while he was home on summer vacation from college.

When I heard the victim’s name, I remembered the case instantly.
It was late summer, 1989. Bentley, a Gilman School graduate and Morehouse College student, was shot in the back as he ran away from a man who had tried to rob him and his friends on Maryland Avenue. Bentley was only 19. I’ve met and interviewed his mother, Ellen, a few times over the years; she’s been active in victim support groups.
Miller is founder of Dare To Be King, a Baltimore-based consultancy that helps African-American boys navigate the hazards of growing up. We’ve had several conversations about his work. Miller travels to train community groups and schools to support at-risk boys. He's created a "survival workbook" to help boys and young men avoid violence and deal with bullies, racism, poverty and "daddy rage” over fathers who are absent.
He’s also addressed the issue of encounters with police.
More than a decade ago, Miller created what he calls “10 rules” for surviving a stop by law enforcement officers. “Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times,” one says. “Do not run even if you are afraid of the police,” goes another.
Miller says he developed the 10 rules to help parents discuss the topic with their children and to give boys a few important points to remember as they grow up and interact with police. By now he’s hosted hundreds of workshops on navigating police stops for churches, schools and community organizations.
Miller posted his “10 rules” on his Facebook page late last week, after two black men were fatally shot by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota.
In 2014, after Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., Miller made an appearance on CNN. Leaders of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, President Obama’s former church, and a local youth group contacted him about turning his 10 rules into a video.
It appears with this post.
“The reactions are mixed,” Miller says. “Many feel the rules are not enough to keep black men and boys safe. Many feel that we should tell youth to stand up to the police. I believe this is reckless and will cause more harm. ...”
Most people are positive, Miller says. They see the rules as an entree to an important conversation. But parents also express a regret, sometimes bitterly, that they still have to have the talk at all.
“I can't help but be furious that we have to have these talks with our children to [keep] them safe and alive,” a woman posted to Miller’s Facebook page. “I am outraged that there is a code of conduct that is basically walking on eggshells, being stifled and suppressing all and every emotion in order to hopefully stay alive. It saddens me ... [that] we must teach our children to dumb themselves down or be gunned down.”
Some police departments, including Baltimore’s and Philadelphia’s, have been supportive of Miller’s work; he has conducted a couple of projects with the Chicago force as well.
“Emotions from the police are mixed,” Miller says. “Some [officers] feel the rules make it seem that police are the enemy. Many welcome the rules. I did a community event in Camden, N.J., over the weekend and the Camden officers thought it provided good advice.”
Miller returns to Philadelphia in a couple of weeks for another event with fathers and their children and police. He’ll once again present his 10 rules.
“I caution people that no guarantees exist,” he says. “The young black men in Louisiana and Minnesota are examples of this.”
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