I’m going to say something out loud that many African Americans are not willing to say: It’s scary and stressful being black in America. Over the last two days, the killing of two black men by police were captured on video. In Baton Rouge, La., Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police after he was pinned to the ground. He never pulled a gun and for now, his only crime (if you want to call it that) was selling CD’s and DVD’s in front of a store.
The graphic video shows two officers on top of Sterling. As he was held down, at least one of the cops is heard saying “If you (expletive) move I swear to God.” Next thing you see is an officer pulling out his gun, pointing it at Sterling’s chest and you hear shots ring out.
Next you hear an officer yell, “Get on the ground.”
Sterling’s arm comes up and shakes uncontrollably as his life leaves his body.
As the news spread of the shooting, people begin to protest. They are angry. At a press conference, Sterling’s son breaks down in tears screaming that he wants his daddy back.
Despite this public execution, there are some who still want to talk about what Sterling could have done to prevent this tragedy from occurring.What the 37-year-old father of five could not do is change his race.Before I could wrap my mind around Sterling’s death, I wake up this morning to see that yet another black man was killed in Minnesota during a traffic stop by an officer on Wednesday.
That deadly encounter occurred in the city of Falcon Heights.
Philando Castile, 32, was shot several times by an officer while sitting in his car and strapped in by his seat belt. His girlfriend, captured Castile’s final moments as he slumps over in his seat as the officer continues to point his gun at Castile while standing outside of the car.
Diamond Reynolds, gives a clear narration of what occurred in the video. She said they were stopped for a broken taillight. She said Castile had done nothing wrong and she says he was shot while reaching for his driver’s license and registration that the officer requested.
“Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him,” Reynolds said. “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
Reynolds streamed the video to Facebook. She is ordered out of the car and handcuffed before being placed into a squad car with her daughter who is seen several times in the video trying to comfort her mother. “It’s OK, Mommy. It’s OK. I’m right here with you.”
This is trauma to the worst degree and we are exposed to it all the time. What kind of effect do you think this will have on us? Or already had on us? On Thursday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who is white, stated the obvious when he said that “police wouldn’t have shot and killed Philando Castile if he’d been white.”
I’m angry because I see dozens of times where white criminals fight back and even shoot at officers and they live to tell about it, but a black man selling CDs or reaching for his license is considered a threat and killed.
This doesn’t sit well with me. There will be some who bring up that same tired argument of blacks killing blacks like that gives police a permit for open season on people of color. People who say this are just as much a part of the problem as the police. Blacks who kill blacks and whites who kill whites go to prison most of the time. Dylann Roof, who was armed with a handgun when he entered a South Carolina church and gunned down nine black parishioners, was somehow taken into custody and lived to tell about it. He even got Burger King on his way to booking. And now his attorneys are asking for federal charges to be dismissed unless the death penalty is taken off the table.
Something is wrong with this picture.
Cops who kill blacks most of the time get away with it. Sure it may go on their record, but for the most part, they keep their jobs and continue to work as police. This is what citizens have a problem with and the numbers back this up. Based on The Counted’s data, black males between the ages of 15 and 34 were nine times more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic. This group accounted for 15% of all 2015 deaths from law enforcement encounters, despite making up just 2% of the U.S. population.
The outrage from the black community is raging at a fever pitch, but it takes anger from other communities to help make some real change in the way people are treated once in custody.
There appears to be more outrage from the white community over a gorilla killed in a zoo than of police killing black men on the streets every day.
How many more blacks have to die before tensions boil over?