From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin to Walter Scott, the long history of killing Black men in America has continued to ignite outrage, disbelief and a lack of accountability or JUSTICE. The Black community continues to be traumatized by the fact that Black Lives STILL really don’t seem to matter, at least NOT as much as white lives do. The inability to actually bring to trial and convict those who wear the uniform of law enforcement has underscored just how inequitably the lives of Black people are valued when compared to the lives of other people, especially if those “other people” wear a badge and carry a gun. The trauma of witnessing the killing of a Black man on camera while he is running away from a law enforcement officer; clearly the running man is unarmed and fleeing for his life but no matter, he is gunned down like livestock, shot in the back 5 times over and over again. THAT plainly demonstrates just how unimportant and insignificant Black lives are in America. And yet, there is an attitude within the culture that perpetuates the mystique that the police officer MUST have been threatened, in fear of his life or some otherwise justified in continuing to commit homicide on black and brown bodies with little to no accountability.
The officers who are sworn to “protect and serve” the communities they police are given both broad and far reaching power and a license to kill. And they continue to do so with precision and consistency. Do law enforcement officers have a dangerous job? Yes. They do put their lives on the line on a daily basis as a part of that job. There has been loss of life by officers who have fallen in the line of duty, no question about it. This truth does not, however, give to those officers any right or privilege to obfuscate the law or to diminish anyone else’s basic and fundamental right to be brought to justice, to be charged with a crime, or to have a legal process whereby evidence is presented and a judgment rendered in a court of law.
The proliferation of social media and cellphone cameras have unmasked a seamy, dark and convoluted system of police brutality, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, collusion and manipulation that has been going on for generations and yet appears to be “newly discovered.” In the communities of color where these injustices occur, it is not at all new but rather more outrageous and traumatic than ever before. In this media age the bloody massacres of our men, young and old, our children, husbands, sons and brothers have become media memes and daily news dispensed in 140 character tweets. We SEE it distributed in a repetitive loop and we are re-traumatized by it over and over again. Then come the character assassinations of the victims, the question of charges or no charges. OH and the tape is irrefutable evidence! “They have to convict this time!” Even white folks say so…they SEE it on the videotape; it’s exposed. The malicious intent, the attempt to plant evidence, the lies in a revisionist account of the events as they DID NOT OCCUR and STILL all we get is “A Hung Jury?” Seriously?
The Walter Scott murder trial in Charleston, South Carolina got no conviction or decision of any kind, even though we ALL saw the police officer gun Mr. Scott down on videotape in cold blood. The non-verdict challenges the system at every level! Now we have to relive the TRAUMA of the massacre at the Mother Emanuel African American Episcopal Church. How will they justify no verdict this time? Dylan Roof is not law enforcement. He’s just a white supremacist hate monger…so we shall see how much the 9 Black Lives taken by Roof matter when compared to his own. When the jury is predominantly white….well they might not have the “heart” to sentence him to murder. #REPLAY