Yet another African American man, Walter Scott, has been shot dead in the streets. Hearing this saddens me but seeing the video infuriates me. How many people have to die before we change what we will accept from law enforcement, from the justice system and from ourselves?
A 50-year-old black man was pulled over for a broken taillight in North Charleston, South Carolina. The officer, Michael T.Slager, tasered Walter Scott who had warrants out for his arrest for not paying child support. Scott ran after being tasered. The police officer followed in pursuit on foot and then shot the unarmed man 8 times, in the back. Would he have done the same if it had been a 50-year-old white man?
Then, it appears from the video, that the officer drops the taser by Scott. The same taser gun that the officer said the man had on his person; the very reason he felt threatened enough to shoot him. To add insult to grave injury, Walter Scott was left lying on the ground; face down, bleeding out while not one of the officers attempted to perform CPR on him. Officer Slager is being charged with murder. I’m glad. Still, there is no explanation for these events that can make any of this right for me. If seeing is believing, I’ve seen enough.
My belief is this white cops are shooting black suspects because they are afraid of them. I don’t know if it’s because of some residual guilt over the inhumane way that most Caucasians have treated African Americans throughout history, instilled racism from their upbringing or just plain old ignorance that allows them to treat black people as less than and still sleep at night. Whatever the reason, I believe that some white people are genuinely afraid of black people simply because of the color of their skin.
On the flip-side, I believe African Americans run from Caucasian officers because they are afraid of them too; afraid that their fear will cause them to overreact and use excessive force.Fear that their lack of respect for their basic human rights could put them in imminent danger. If history tells us anything, they’re not wrong. We’ve seen it happen. It’s not unimaginable. This is just my theory.
Everything about this sickens me, however, it no longer shocks me. This is nothing new. The only thing that’s changed is that everyone has a camera with a phone that takes video and social media allows us to share these stories instantaneously with remarkable reach. This has been happening for centuries and anyone who believes it hasn’t is fooling themselves. We are being forced to face the reality of our brutality. You can no longer be blissfully ignorant about the world because the truth is caught on video and shown to us. To say you didn’t know it was happening today, is to be a liar.
I grew up in an African American neighborhood and in my world, this is how the cops have always treated African Americans. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The world is an unfair place where fear causes men to do unspeakable acts in the name of self-preservation. Fear is a very effective motivator, even when it’s completely unfounded.
I’m not saying that all cops are racist or bad people. Quite the opposite. There are many law enforcement officers who risk their life every single day to serve and protect their community but there are a few small men with narrow minds, who function on fear and power and have guns. These are the ones who make me afraid. The ones who can be more compassionate to a dog in the street than a dying man lying in front of them. Those who lack humanity and human compassion scare me the most.
We know there is a problem. No human being should be shot dead in the street. I don’t care what color, creed, race, religion or sexual preference you have. We need to change. How many mothers have to lose their children? How many children have to lose their fathers? How many lives have to be snuffed out before it all adds up to too much?
In my book, one dead human being in the street is too many. We have to stop letting fear and ignorance govern our reactions. Collectively as the human race, we need to say no more and develop a zero tolerance policy for the brutality and abuse of power that we currently accept as status quo. This is unacceptable. This is not the world that I want for my children. Our children deserve better.