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Unarmed suspect shot by police officer, Walter Scott, Michael Slager, North Charleston, South Carolina, Shooting, Police, brutality, racism, fear

Fear and Ignorance is What’s Killing Black Men

by Deborah Cruz

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.

How many more Walter Scott incidents can we tolerate?

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.

What are your thoughts on the Walter Scott shooting?

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Jenni Chiu @ MommyNaniBooboo 2015/04/08 - 11:50 am

I agree that fear plays a big part, but I also think the dehumanization of “otherness” is a huge part of it as well. “Other” (especially black other) = beneath, sub human, animal. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have believed it – but I’ve seen it. It’s disgusting.

Deborah Cruz 2015/04/08 - 12:12 pm

I agree with you about the dehumanization and that is what I was referring to as ignorance. I don’t understand how a human being can look at another human being and not see a person. You know when I was a kid, my dad used to tell us to tell people we were only Caucasian. I never understood why he did this. I was always proud of my Latina heritage but as I got older, I began to see why he told us this. He was trying to protect us because once you can be put into this “other” box , it makes it easier for others to treat you less than. Almost as if since you are not Caucasian, you are not human. For us, we had a choice. You know me, I am a light skinnned freckled Mexican. I can pass for Caucasian but I choose to let people know that I am Latina because I have experienced way too many ignorant jokes and comments at the expense of my fellow Latinos. African American’s cannot hide the color of their skin. They are easily identifiable and that makes them an easy target for racists who choose to dehumanize an entire race simply for the color of their skin. You can hide a lot of shit from the outside world, you can keep stuff private ( your sexual preference, your religion, your politics) but you cannot hide the color of your skin. It makes me literally sick to my stomach that there are people in this world who can so easily shoot a man in the street DEAD and be so nonchalant about it. Most people show more compassion to animals they run over in the street than this officer did to this human man dying in front of him. It’s disgusting.

Kristi @therobotmommy 2015/04/08 - 3:12 pm

I read that the officer was fired. There needs to be more happening here though. Pulling a cop off the job won’t solve the problem. Training officers to see past race is a start. Sadly, that may never be a reality.

The Cubicle Chick 2015/04/09 - 10:17 am

My son is turning 21 tomorrow and almost weekly, we are hearing that a cop shot and killed a black boy/man. Over 200 killings since the beginning of the year. This is more than a problem, it’s an epidemic. And let’s not forget, even on camera, someone can still be found innocent. Remember Rodney King? His whole beating was caught on tape and they were acquitted. The whole system needs a change. If you are scared of a certain part of the population, why become a cop? I think it goes beyond being scared. When you know that you will get away with something and won’t be held accountable, you are more likely to push the limits. All a police officer has to say is that they feared for their lives and boom, it’s a wrap. I am so glad that a video of this was brought to light, but this is just the beginning. He has to be fond guilty and put in prison for the rest of his life.

Deborah Cruz 2015/04/09 - 10:27 am


I agree that it is an epidemic and I also feel like this has been going on for as long as I can remember there just weren’t cameras so readily available to catch them. It’s all terrible but at least I am glad he is getting tried for murder, it’s not much but it’s a step up from some of the other incidences.

I hope you don’t think that I think fear is an excuse? If so, I need to rewrite this. What I am saying is there is a problem and I don’t understand how any human can treat another human like this. The problem is that the animals who commit these acts do feel protected behind their shield and gun.

I know some cops, some are good and some are on a power trip. Maybe they need to do a better job on those psychological tests to begin with to weed out some of the aggressive and racist crazy.

I 1000% agree that this man should be put into jail for the rest of his life and if he sticks to his proclamation of “feared for his life ( from an unarmed man running away from him) then I say they put him in general population and see how real fear feels.


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