By now, you have all heard of the heartbreaking news out of Sacramento about the shooting of 22-year old Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard this past Sunday night. The police were called about a man breaking car windows and believe, according to the Sacramento Police Department, that the man breaking windows was the same man the police killed. At the time the officered fired 20 shots at him, he only had his cell phone in hand. They believed it was a gun.
We saw a headline from the satire news website, The Online, that read “NAACP Issues Travel Warning For Black Americans Visiting Own Backyards.” Although this is no laughing matter, the satirical statement reads so true for black people in America, especially black men, when it comes to dealing with law enforcement.
Is there no place, and no action, that will actually keep you safe if you encounter law enforcement?
Let’s look at just 7 examples of unsafe acts for blacks in America when dealing with the police.
Sleeping At A Park
Dontre Hamilton was shot 14 times in Milwaukee after officers were called on him for “disturbing the peace.” He was sleeping at a park. Two officers checked on him and determined he was doing nothing wrong. A third office came after them and confronted Dontre. A struggle ensued and Dontre struck the officer with offer’s baton. We was shot at 14 times and killed.
Eric Garner was put in a chock-hold and killed by NYPD and killed after police approached him and confronted him for selling “loosies”, single cigarettes without a tax stamp on the street. In the infamous video, Eric is heard saying, “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing Because every time you see me, you wan to harass me.”
Walter Scott stopped by police for a broken taillight. What followed is Scott’s attempt to free from police and getting in a physical altercation. Then being shot in the back five times, as he was running away.
Freddie Gray suffered the same fate as he was arrested for simply running away from police when they encountered him. He died from injuries he sustained while in custody.
Playing With Toy Gun
Tamir Rice was only 12 years old and playing with a toy gun at the park when police officers shot at him, mistaking his toy gun for a real weapon.
Walking Around Walmart While Holding Walmart Sold BB/pellet
John Crowford III was walking around Walmart while holding an un-packaged toy BB/pellet gun he picked up from the sporting goods section of the store. Someone called the police about an armed black man in the store. John was shot and killed by police in the store while talking on his phone. The caller falsely told police that John was pointing the rifle at people.
Being a Law Abiding Citizen
Philando Castile was pulled over because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. As the good law abiding citizen he was, he informed the officer that pulled him over that he had a firearm in the car, which he had a permit for. The police told him not to reach for it. Castile repeatedly told the police he wasn’t reaching for his weapon. He was fired at 7 times.
Being In Your Own Backyard, Carrying a Cellphone
Stephon Clark was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard, where he also lived, after officers were called into the neighborhood. Police mistook his cellphone for a gun.
None of these acts should have resulted in a human losing their lives. That’s why we chant black lives matter. We are repeatedly being treated as if our lives don’t matter. As if we are inherently guilty of anything, anybody might accuse us of, regardless of the truth. And killing us is an acceptable thing to do for a police offer, as long as they simply claim their lives were being threatened. Forget what these videos show over again. Forget that these men were proven to be unarmed, over and over again. To face this fate by the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect us, all of us, is unacceptable.
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