Friday, April 6, 2018

Two cities. Two men. Two very different outcomes.

Cops aren't racists.
Every situation is different.
If you just follow orders, you won't get shot.
White folks get shot, too.

Wednesday afternoon in Brooklyn, police received three separate 911 calls about a man walking down the street pointing a metal object at people. When police arrived at the scene, they saw Saheed who met the description they were given. The man took what the police called a two-handed shooting stance with a metallic object in his hands.

Four officers fired on Mr. Vassell, striking him a total of ten times. None of the officers were wearing body cameras. He died at the hospital.

According to his father, Mr. Vassell was bi-polar and had been "sick " for some time. Other people who knew Mr. Vassell said he was well-known in the neighborhood and didn't bother anyone. One resident told a reporter that all the police officers in the neighborhood knew Mr. Vassell.

The metallic object in Mr. Vassell's hand was a shower head.

The officers never gave Mr. Vassell the opportunity to comply with their orders. They shot and killed another unarmed black man.

A week ago yesterday, in Louisville (KY), police responded to a domestic violence call. As police approached the door, Oscar Walters picked up an air rifle and pointed it at officers. Then he fired it, shattering the glass in the front door. After fleeing the house, Mr. Walters resisted arrest and refused to obey orders from the police.

Officers eventually tackled Mr. Walters, though one officer suffered a fractured wrist, arrested him and took him to jail.

Need I even point out that Mr. Walters was white?

Saheed Vassell was shot and killed for pointing a pipe at people on the street. The police never attempted to subdue him - and they never attempted to determine what he was holding in his hand. Mr. Walters shot at police, ran from them, resisted arrest - but is still alive.

Stephon Clark was standing in his backyard holding his cellphone when he was shot and killed by multiple bullets fired by police officers. Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students in Parkland (FL) but was taken out alive.

The tangents running through these cases is clear and the longer we try to ignore it, the more killings we condone. It's very telling that NFL owners and wingnuts are more concerned with a man kneeling during the national anthem than they are at the scores of unarmed black men shot down by the police.

For all the pontificating by the right over the sanitized version of Martin Luther King, Jr. we are taught in school, his work was left undone when he was struck down by a sniper's rifle on April 4, 1968. We still live in a divided society with little sign it will change anytime soon.

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