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Monday, August 11, 2014

On Killing Unarmed Blacks: Who the hell are we, America?

Everyone's very familiar with the events from this weekend now:

So he's young, he's black, he's unarmed and shot and killed by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, outside St. Louis.

That's all we really know.

That and then this happened, last evening, just to complicate things:


FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – An officer-involved shooting on Saturday in Ferguson set off heavy rioting in the St. Louis suburb on Sunday night.
On Saturday 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer. According to St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, Brown had struggled with the officer over his sidearm.
Belmar did not say what led to the initial encounter, but St. Louis alderman Antonio French said the looting started at the QuikTrip where the police encounter with Brown began on Saturday.
After dark last night, the rioting began.
Looters smashed windows, took merchandise, ransacked an ATM and ultimately set fire to the QuikTrip. 
Several other businesses in the area were hit hard, including a Wal-Mart at I-270 and Dunn Road where more than a dozen employees reportedly barricaded themselves inside as looters made their way through the store.
So what's important now is first, keeping calm.  Second, separating the two events.
No one can rationalize that the looting and riots are somehow okay, I'll say that up front. The fact is, the people who rioted and looted frankly hurt their cause. That's clear. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it so well and rightly:
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.
But in addition to this, it needs to be pointed out that, while the riots and looting are patently wrong, the anger the people in Ferguson felt is at least understandable. After all, a young man, unarmed, was shot down, inexplicably. I go back to what I say earlier, too. At this point, we do not know all the details of why this young man, Michael Brown, was shot and killed. All we do know is that he was unarmed and now he's dead.
The rest of the nation needs to keep in mind that lots of young, unarmed black men in this nation get shot and lots end up dead, in very similar circumstances. Just last week, as one glaring example, a 22 year old young man was in the toy aisle in Walmart, holding a toy gun and was, you guessed it, shot and killed. 
Just like that.
The Daily Kos makes a good point in this article:

Why Black Men Don't Open Carry

A white young man goes walking in a small town in Colorado with an unloaded shotgun.

Guess what DOESN'T happen:

A Colorado teen, stopped by the police for toting a loaded shotgun on the streets of Aurora, Colorado where James Holmes killed 12 and wounded seventy in a packed movie theater in 2012, claims he is doing it to make the public feel more “comfortable” around guns.

Steve Lohner, 18, was recently stopped by police responding to 911 calls alerting them about the teen. When asked to provide ID proving his age, Lohner refused to do so, while videotaping the encounter (seen below) on his phone. The teen subsequently posted the video online, according FOX13.

In the video, Lohner explains to an officer that he is the process of returning home after buying cigarettes. When asked why he’s carrying a shotgun, Lohner replies, “For the defense of myself and those around me.”

Lohner then proceeds to argue with the officers, refusing to show them ID or hand over the shotgun insisting he hasn’t committed a crime before being cited by the officer on a misdemeanor obstruction charge for refusing to show his identification.

But killed?  Heck, he wasn't even SHOT AT, let alone killed.

Are you kidding?

And besides these two other examples of how we treat young, unarmed men, there was also, of course, the situation--and killing--of Trayvon Martin, not that long ago. There's also this:

Unarmed Black Men Shot by Police20

Face it, America, it's just not that uncommon for black people, as a group, generally, but young black men, in specific, to be harassed by the local police, for starters, but then to be shot and killed, at times. 

What it boils down to is that we Americans have to demand fairness and equality in our country still. We need to demand a value for life--all life, no matter the color of the person's skin.

This shouldn't be a big request or demand to make.

The sad thing is, we shouldn't still have to make this statement or demand. We need to make clear we cannot and will not stand for this, as a nation, as a people. It must end. The ugliness and unfairness and yes, theses shootings must stop. And it must end now.

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