Years ago, incident reports involving police interactions with African-American suspects began to inundate the news. First, on September 14, 2016, a thirteen year-old Black child was fatally shot in Columbus, OH by a Caucasian patrolman responding to a report of armed robbery. As it turned out, Tyre King was one of three teens who’d committed the offense and was shot by Officer Bryon Mason (a nine-year veteran) after the young man “pulled what appeared to be a handgun from his waist band.” Though police stated the assailant posed an immanent threat, a report prepared by an independent medical examiner King’s family hired determined the youth was shot while running away from officers. Ballistics tests later proved what looked like a handgun was actually an air pistol that shoots BB’s or small metal pellets, not bullets.
In another incident Friday, September 16, 2016 a Tulsa, OK officer came upon a disabled vehicle following calls of the stalled SUV blocking traffic. Officer Betty Shelby, en route to a domestic disturbance, made the now infamous fateful stop to investigate the issue concerning the stalled vehicle. Mr. Terence Crutcher had been headed home from class at the community college and, though it’s unclear as to what transpired immediately prior to other officers arriving on the scene, can be seen in police footage walking away from the authorities. Officer Shelby first stated she’d shot the unarmed Black man (walking to his truck with hands raised) because she feared for her safety. Even with three male officers present when one opted to utilize a taser as opposed to discharging his firearm.
Yet another situation occurred Tuesday, September 20, 2016 when a Black man in Charlotte, NC was apparently sitting in an SUV waiting for one of his children when police encountered him as they were in the area to serve a non-related warrant. Keith Lamont Scott was eventually confronted by numerous police and asked repeatedly to exit his vehicle. His wife, Rakeyia Scott, was actually present and recorded the entire occurrence on her cell phone. She can actually be heard in the video pleading with officers “don’t shoot him.” She even cautioned the police that her 43 year-old husband “had a TBI” or traumatic brain injury resulting from a motorcycle accident suffered the previous year. Mrs. Scott’s pleadings and attempts at defusing the tense situation proved futile as the video shows her husband eventually stepping out his truck in what was described as “a non-aggressive manner” but he was fatally shot just outside the vehicle.
As the result of another “questionable” shooting of a Black man within a week, hundreds of Charlotte citizens took to the city’s streets in what began as peaceful protests but then quickly deteriorated into a verifiable riot. The destruction continued three days and extended well into the a.m. hours each morning until Mayor Jennifer Roberts declared a state of emergency, mandating a midnight curfew.
By comparison, a terrorist incident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2016 when a bomb exploded in the Chelsea area of lower Manhattan in New York City. The explosion occurred on west 23rd St. around 8:00p along the intended route of a “Semper Five” police charity run injuring 29 people. It was perpetrated by Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28 year-old Muslim-American who, as later determined, planned to carry out other bombings in New York City as well as Seaside Park, NJ. Peculiarly, Rahami was captured “alive” Monday, September 19, 2016 following a shootout with police wherein he sustained a gun-shot wound to his shoulder.
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban league, stated September 23rd that the Black community in the US has had “Several hundred people shot by police during 2016 alone.” I can’t help but notice disturbing disparities in these settings wherein Black men were fatally shot by police as compared to the approach taken when another individual is armed and intent on killing but survived. It was determined in the above situations, the Black subjects were not behaving aggressively and officers could’ve exercised other options, as they are trained, which could effectively de-escalate the situation. In each case, right or wrong in their initial behaviors, the victims were moving away from police and, thusly, couldn’t be perceived as viable threats. Mr. Rahami, on the other hand, actively engaged authorities in an armed shoot-out and gets a ride to the hospital whereas the others are awarded, painstaking for their familuies, rides to the morgue.
This trend has continued with sporatic incidents occurring throughout the years as our country is divided by the long-engrafted ills of a systemic racism many argue has been present throughout America’s history. Others debate that things aren’t as bad as people suggest and Blacks are simply making excuses; that equality, fairness, and the same opportunities exist for all citizens. I suggest, however, anyone who thinks so should walk a mile in a pair of a Black man’s shoes and see the truth. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.
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