I haven’t sleep well this week. I kept waking up in the night, thinking about the Edwards family. That poor family. Not just their family, but all Black families. Saturday night, they lost their son to senseless gun violence. They lost him to police violence. They lost him because he was being a teenager while black. Although I am not a religious person, the only thing that keeps running through my mind is the passage 6:24-6:26 from the New King James Version of the Bible:
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Anything that white people say, to somehow try to justify this murder, says more about their callous exercise of privilege than it does about black people, or how they live their lives. Those who say things like, “he should have complied with the officer,” need to STFU because they are now part of the problem. Providing any sort of just cause for killing a child just makes you sound like a complete asshole.
As a white woman, I am well aware of my privilege. There are many examples of this in my daily life, but I’ll use driving to illustrate. Driving while white means I have the luxury of deciding if I want to risk a ticket to run a red light, because I’m running late for work. My black friends do not have this same latitude. Their reality is such that if they were to be so bold as to do the same, they could end up dead…not from getting hit by another vehicle crossing the intersection, but from being shot by the responding police officer, who magically decides that they are somehow a “threat” and must be disposed of immediately.
As a white teenager, I remember attending many a parties thrown while friends’ parents were out of town. And yes, there was underaged drinking, and other illicit activities, because we raided the parents’ liquor cabinet – duh. As a white teenager, we were inspired by movies in which these types of parties were idolized, romanticized, and glorified as a rite of passage. At times, the police were called due to noise complaints, and we scurried, just as Jordan Edwards, his brother, and two other boys decided to do on Saturday night. When things are getting crazy, it’s time to go home – I have no doubt that was the first thing they were all thinking.
Never, in all of the times that police raided a party or a rave, that I attended, did I ever believe that an officer would shoot at me, or my friends, for running to our car and driving off. Never, in all of those times when we did run to our car, did we ever heed the warning of that police officer to stop and stay where we were. As a white person, I am afforded the ability to know and exercise my rights without the fear of being shot and killed by those who pledge to protect and serve. If you aren’t being detained, certainly if you are unarmed, you are not legally bound to comply, so stop with the bullshit excuses that the police are justified to shoot at will, simply because they told someone to stop and stay where they are. Of course, our legal system doesn’t seem to hold these officers, their superiors, or their departments accountable either. The systemic abuse of the system by those who are responsible for public safety is the sole reason why these egomaniacal shit gibbons continue to get away with murder.
I am tired of the excuses. There is no excuse for murdering a child, I don’t care what color they are, I don’t care where they came from, I don’t care how good or bad they have been. Killing a child is an inexcusable act. If there are truly “more good cops than there are bad cops”, why do the “good ones” continue to harbor those who tarnish the supposed nobility of the badge? Recently, a man called authorities when he suspected that his own daughter was planning a mass shooting at her high school. He knew that countless people would be at risk, if he didn’t say something, so he turned in his own flesh and blood. “Good cops” need to turn in their own. By allowing this shit to continue by their unscrupulous counterparts, they are culpable in the continued erosion of trust we have in our justice system. Those who don’t speak up, who don’t seek out ways to be better ambassadors in their communities, are just as wicked as those who kill young, unarmed men in cold blood.
How many times are we going to allow officers who commit murder/manslaughter to get away with zero punishment? I don’t care if there’s a certain expectation that comes with the job, or whatever excuse is provided that they are legally allowed to defend themselves. What about the times when they aren’t actually defending themselves, when they allow their biases to get in the way of acting in a professional manner? Firing him is not enough, this officer needs to spend a considerable amount of time in prison. What message are we sending as a society when we will send someone to jail for 30 years for possession of marijuana, but we can’t hold a police officer accountable when they royally fuck up?
I realize that they signed up for a dangerous job, but being a law enforcement officer doesn’t even make the top 10 for the most dangerous jobs in the US. Taxi drivers are more likely to be murdered on the job than police officers and you don’t see them going around killing unarmed riders. When the military kills unarmed civilians, there is an inquiry and there is hell to pay. So, enough already. Police officers are not above the law, and they swore an oath to protect and serve – this includes everyone.
And honestly, white people, can you really say for sure you won’t be next? History has shown that when governments militarize forces with inside their countries, those forces are used against their own citizens. Black and brown citizens of this country have know this for decades….centuries, in fact. Continuing to live in this state of denial, to defend the oppressor, and try and justify the unnecessary killing of black people, is ripping our nation apart. We cannot continue to allow the militarization of our police departments to continue. The only way to truly fix the problem, is to first identify the problem. As white people, we must acknowledge that there is a huge disparity in how we are treated, vs our black and brown brothers and sisters. Then, we must use our privilege to demand better of our leaders, of our protectors, and of ourselves.