For nearly a year now, America has transformed into a hotbed of social injustice, played out in real time on live television. The focal point, the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Since the first utterance of the three worded phrase, the very existence of the of the necessity to remind America that Black lives do, indeed, matter has been questioned by a very distinct portion of the American population. With each instance of an unarmed African American citizen being gunned down in cold blood, rather than attempting to solve the matter that is continuously plaguing our society, rather than proposing substantive change that will eliminate the possibility of another one of our brothers and sisters being relegated to a hashtag, members of social and television media have, instead, found ways to not only excuse the inexcusable actions of these officers, but also have managed to suggest that the actions of these victims actually, in some twisted way, justify them losing their lives.
The typical responses range from a group of hypothetical "what ifs" and "shoulda coulda woulda's" that would have presumably resulted in the sparing of the of their lives, none of which are aimed in the direction of the officer who actually took the life, and all of which are intended to paint the victim in a bad light. They call protesters of police brutality irrational and misguided (in so many words) and condemn the actions of a frustrated population.
And then, on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 one video dispelled every critique of the Black Lives Matter movement. A video that was so bad, the city of Cincinnati initially refused to release it unless required by court order. A video so appalling, that prior to its release, the city actually flooded the streets with every police officer within reach in anticipation of a riot that never actually happened. A video so egregious, the prosecuting attorney called it the most asinine example of police overreach that he had seen in his career. A video so disturbing that even Fox News had to admit it was difficult to watch.
Insert, the video of the slaying of Sam Dubose.
Unfortunately, it takes a video of another unarmed man to answer all of the criticisms of the past victims of police brutality.
"Well if mike brown and eric garner weren't doing anything illegal they would still be alive, right?"
What if Michael Brown wasn't filmed allegedly stealing cigars? What if police had not accused Eric Garner of selling loose cigarettes on the corner? They would probably still be alive, right? Evidence suggest, wrong. In the past year of unarmed African American deaths at the hands of police, more often than not, the person who lost their life were partaking in any illegal activity. If anything, a would-be routine encounter with police for minor offenses wound up escalated by the officer and resulted in the the victims death. In what world does a traffic stop for a busted tail light (Walter Scott), a failure to signal (Sandra Bland) or even shoplifting (Mike Brown) end up in the death of a suspect? Answer, when that suspect is black.
In the case of Sam Dubose, the minor offense that initiated his stop was a missing front license plate (something that is only an offense in 38 states). The prosecuting attorney called the initial stop "Chicken Crap" and is considered just another method for jurisdictions to gain revenue. His only other mistake was not having his drivers license, something we have all done in our lives and not had to die for. It wasn't until the police officer escalated the encounter after suggesting, without cause, that Dubose's license was suspended that the entire ordeal took a tragic turn.
Now when you consider those murdered while conducting routine daily activities such as shopping at Walmart (John Crawford), walking in his own staircase (Akai Gurley), playing in a park (Tamir Rice) and sleeping on your grandmothers lap (Aiyana Stanley-Jones), the assertion that lives would not have been lost had it not been for the illegal activities of of the victims is unfounded.
"maybe they shouldn't resist arrest..."
What if Walter Scott had not run from the cops? What if Eric Garner allowed police that routinely harassed him and arrested him on numerous occasions to take him in, again? What if Sandra bland never refused to get out of her vehicle? Lets set aside the fact that the Supreme Court on multiple occasions ruled that it is the constitutional right of a citizen to resist an unjustified arrest up to an including using deadly force. The Sam Dubose video demonstrates exactly what could happen in the case that one does remain calm and not resist arrest. Sam Dubose didn't fight, he did not run, he did not resist. He was calm, subdued and cooperative. What did that get him? A bullet to the face.
Now, what do we have to say about officers that habitually escalate the situation to the point where the victims feel that they need to resist. In multiple instances, the arrest itself was often unjustified according to most legal instances. In the case of Eric Garner, no cigarettes were found on his person to justify him being apprehended. At no point did the actions of Sandra Bland require to escalate the situation to the point to where she went from receiving a warning to being handcuffed and manhandled on the side of a road. And with Sam Dubose, why was the officer so implicit on repeatedly asking him about his drivers license? Why did he not just run his name as the ever-compliant Dubose suggested on multiple occasions? Why, in every instance has the officer been allowed to take a routine interaction and turn it into a one-sided life or death battle? Why is it always the victim that should be the only one that is required to show restraint?
Now take into consideration John Crawford (who was killed within 2 seconds of contact with officers), Tamir Rice (killed before the officers car was put in park), Akai Gurley (murdered by a trigger happy, skidish officer), and now Sam Dubose who were all killed before they were even given the opportunity to comply, OR run.
"sandra bland should have watched her tone with the officers and she would have gotten off with a warning..."
The last time i perused penal codes of various states, speaking to a police officer an tone in which he does not agree with is not a crime. Neither is condescension, sarcasm, facetiousness, or frustration. However, some offer the opinion that it was Sandra Bland's tone of voice that resulted in her arrest. After asking Bland on numerous occasions "what's wrong", she told him. Respectfully. With a hint of an attitude, but still respectfully. When she was asked "do you mind putting out the cigarette", she replied that she did mind, especially seeing that she was inside her private property. It was the officer that decided to essentially get "butt hurt" that his authority was being challenged (in a very logical fashion) and intimidation was his only recourse.
In the instance of Sam Dubose, again we see that he was compliant and respectful. He never took a condescending tone with Tensing. Even after repeated questioning concerning his legitimacy as a driver including asking him "Is this your car" and "Are you suspended" on multiple occasions, Dubose remained calm. His inside voice didn't protect him from a trigger happy officer.
So now that your questions have been answered, I have a few questions for you.
At what point are we allowed to fear for our lives?
How long are we going to continuously allow officers to violate human and civil rights?
What if there were no "Blue wall of silence"?
When will you stop viewing these murders as isolated incidents, and see them as what they are: a systemic plague infecting nearly every major metropolitan area in the nation?
Why are officers lies allowed to be taken as gospel?
What if police weren't allowed to police themselves?
What if prosecutors weren't raising money for the officers they are supposed to be putting behind bars?
How many dead bodies have to pile up before you admit that there is a problem?
When will #BlackLivesMatter?