Stephon Clark and Danny Ray Thomas didn't know each other. They lived hundreds of miles apart. Mr. Clark lived in Sacramento and Mr. Thomas lived in Houston.
But they were both black and they were both killed at the hands of police officers.
Police in Sacramento suspected Mr. Clark of breaking into cars. Deputies in a helicopter said they spotted the a man who resembled the uspect in a backyard and that he appeared to be trying to break into the house. That man was Stephon Clark and that backyard was his backyard.
Police approached. They told Mr. Clark to raise his hands. He did. He then began moving toward the officers. Thinking the cell phone he held in his hand was a gun, officers fired more than 20 shots and then waited five minutes before seeing if Mr. Clark was alive.
He was unarmed. He was shot and killed in his own backyard because someone in a helicopter thought he resembled a person who had been breaking the windows of cars. He was murdered by police for a a crime - which even if he committed - didn't warrant the death penalty.
Danny Ray Thomas was wandering down Greens Road in northwest Houston with his pants down to his ankles, talking to himself and hitting cars with his fist as they passed by. A deputy sheriff saw what was happening, stopped and ordered Mr. Thomas to stand still. Mr. Thomas continued to walk toward the deputy who then shot and killed Mr. Thomas in the middle of the street.
The deputy claims that Mr. Thomas had something in his hand at the time of the encounter but no gun was found.
He was unarmed. He was shot and killed in the middle of the street because he was engaging in bizarre behavior. He was murdered by a sheriff's deputy for a crime that didn't warrant the death penalty.
I'm sure there will be people who will read this and argue that the police weren't to blame for these deaths. They will claim that both men placed themselves in danger by their actions.
But that's not even the point. The police aren't driving into predominantly white neighborhoods and shooting white people at the slightest provocation. If that were the case then the wingnuts and wealthy folks living in gated communities would be out in the streets rioting. But so long as the victims of these killings are black, apologists for the police will look for any little fact to justify a cop putting a bullet in an unarmed black man.
Who ever said Jim Crow was dead?