It sounded like a parody on Robin Hood: Last week a Brinks truck overturned near one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods, Overtown, spilling millions of dollars in bills, coins, and food stamps. Overtown residents descended in droves, scooping up about $500,000 for themselves.
Police went door to door, asking residents if they took any of the money and, if so, to give it back. They got little response. Mostly people said something like this happens only once in a lifetime and who deserves it more than they do?
That attitude isn't hard to understand. For many people in Overtown, the Brinks money seemed a windfall. As one middle school student put it, "From what black people need, they ought to do it every week."
But the story, thankfully, doesn't end there. There were a few in Overtown who knew the money really wasn't theirs and wanted to do the right thing. A Miami firefighter turned in $330,000 on the spot. Later, Faye McFadden, who earns $5 an hour working in a department store, returned to police the $19.53 she had taken. Eleven-year-old Herbert Tarvin handed over 83 cents to his teacher.
Hearing this, more than a dozen people have offered Herbert and Ms. McFadden reward money. We hope more residents of Overtown - no matter how much they think they need the money - will follow their examples.