I Have A Question
Another week has reached its end and what a week it has been. The Chicago White Sox Carlos Rodon pitched a no hitter, Ted Cruz continues to show why he is America's #1 idiot, and President Joe Biden announced that, finally, America is going to be leaving Afghanistan and our longest war, ever, will come to an end.
Sadly, this week included multiple mass shooting events, and, three more incidents of police shooting, or harassing, people of color. I'm not sure which we've had more of this year so far, of the two incidents above, but it is pretty close I know.
Today I want to reflect on the three officer involved events that made national news, and ask a question that I always seem to come back to when these stories break. I am prepared to be vilified for asking this question, but I think we need to start admitting that we have a culture and perspective gap in this country that needs to be addressed and discussed.
I first want to remind everyone that nobody has been more vocal about the need for police to stop shooting black people in this country than me. I have written numerous times about the need for police restraint, and training, to put an end to the slaughter of our African American community. I am not racists, I am just a white man who cannot possibly understand what a black person goes through daily, but I do have questions.
Having said that, we also need the African American community to stop putting themselves in positions that lead to these life ending shootings. I understand that many times it is not the fault of the victim. Many of these are started by the police stopping someone just for being black. This also must stop. However, when the police do come on the scene, many times, if the victim had just done what the police were asking them to do, they would still be alive.
So my question to the black community, and America in general, is, why do you not follow orders from the police?
When the black community sees another person of color shot by the police they say, why are the police still killing our people? When the white community sees another person of color shot by the police they say, why didn't they do what they were told to do?
I want to look at all three incidents that played out this week and discuss what I. and most white people, saw to show the difference in perspective. I'm not saying I/we are correct, but I want to show how different we view things.
The first event was the release of video, from March 29th, showing the Windsor, VA police making an illegal traffic stop of an active black Army Lieutenant by the name of Caron Nazario. This is a clear example of being stopped by the police because you are a person of color. They had no business doing it and there is nothing that can be said to condone this. However, why did Nazario not obey the instructions from the police to get out of the car? Especially since his career is in an industry that survives by following orders.
Would they still have pepper sprayed him if he did obey? We'll never know. Watching this video you can hear the frustration growing in the voices of the police as Nazario continues to ask them why he was stopped and why they want him to get out of the car. He correctly insists he has done nothing wrong to deserve this treatment, yet he refuses to leave the car when repeatedly is asked to do so. The result is his being sprayed and dragged out of the car.
The next ugly event, was the murder of 20 year old Duante Wright in Brooklyn Center, MN by a police officer who somehow mistook her Glock for a stun gun. Forgetting for the time being that this is nearly impossible for a trained police officer to do, let's look at the events leading up to his being killed.
He is stopped, again, primarily for being black and driving thru town, He does comply with the officers request to exit the car, and in fact he is allowing the officer to handcuff him. Suddenly the female officer, for some unexplainable reason, decides she needs to get involved and starts to come between Wright and the original officer. This leads to the officer losing his grip on Wright, and he then moves back into the car, which then causes the female officer to shoot him point blank in the chest.
This one is an example of mostly doing the right thing and still getting killed. Had he not gotten back into the car would she still have shot him? It looks like she was determined to shoot him no matter what.
The final event is filled with so many different questions from me. It is the horrible shooting of 13 year old Adam Toledo in Chicago. There is never a good shooting and when a young person is the victim it makes it even harder to understand.
The police respond to a shots fired call around 2:30AM in Chicago. They see two males in the alley with one of them holding a gun in full sight. They tell them to drop it, the older person refuses, and they shoot and wound him. Adam then takes off running with the police in pursuit.
They order him to stop and drop the gun, which they can now see him holding, he gets to an opening in the fence and tosses the gun behind it just as the police shoot and kill him. Another son will not be coming home and another white policeman will have his life changed forever.
My first question, and frankly this happens more times than not, is why is a 13 year old out with a gun at 2:30 in the morning? Nothing ever good happens at 2:30 in the morning and where are his parents? When the police are in a dark alley, in the middle of the night, and two people are standing there with guns, this outcome is not a surprise.
From my perspective, two of these three events could have had different outcomes. Sadly I believe that Duante Wright was likely going to be killed by the police no matter what that day. There was no reason for her to get in the middle of the arrest, he was doing what they asked, and there is no way a police officer confuses her Glock with a stun gun. She was determined to kill a black person that day and unfortunately Mr. Wright was that guy.
If you go back and look at the video of people of color being killed by the police in the past 5 years, more often than not you will see someone not complying with the police instructions. They are either running away, or walking away, when shot in the back. Now, does this excuse the police, of course not. It does make you wonder why they just didn't do what they were asked to do because they would probably still be alive today.
So, the bottom line for me is that we have a million miles to go in this country before the senseless killing of people by the police is going to stop. We need to retrain all police with how to deal with situations so that their first response is to not shoot and kill someone. We also need to teach the communities of color in this country that not all police are evil and that if you just do what they say, you may stay alive.