In my writing 101 course, our topic for today is “serially lost”. We are to do a 3 part story of how the loss of something or someone has affected our lives and after writing the first part, I realized that I wasn’t quite ready to share something that personal on this platform, so, I decided to talk more about the festering issue of white cops killing African Americans in the States.
February 26, 2012, Sanford, Florida, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 29 year old George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman.
Martin was walking home that night from a convenience store where he went to purchase candy and fruit juice. Zimmerman spots him, feels he was suspicious, calls the Sanford Police department who advises him not to approach Martin. He ignored this and approached Martin, a scuffle ensues and the process Zimmerman shoots Martin. Zimmerman cites self defence as his reason for shooting Martin and in July 2013, he was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter.
August 9, 2014, Ferguson Missouri, 18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, 28, a cop.
Michael brown stole cigarillos from a store, he was stopped by Wilson, they struggle a bit, Brown runs off then stops, raises his hands and faces Wilson, Wilson fires a total of 12 shots at Brown with the last being the fatal shot. None of the eye witnesses could really say what prompted Wilson to shoot a man who had his hands up and was facing him. Wilson cites self defence and on November 24, 2014, St. Louis County Grand jury decided not to indict him, and on March 4, 2015, US department of Justice cleared Wilson of any civil rights violation in the shooting.
July 17, 2014, Staten Island, New York City, 43 year old Eric Garner was choke held to death by Daniel Pantaleo, a cop.
Pantaleo approached Garner and made to arrest him for selling single cigarettes without a tax stamp, Garner resisted, Pantaleo held him down in a chokehold while four other cops restrained him, with Garner saying over and over again (11 times) “I can’t breathe” till her lost consciousness, after which the cops turned him on his side to ease his breathing and waited for an ambulance to arrive. No CPR was attempted because they believed he was still breathing. Garner was pronounced dead within an hour of arrival at the hospital.
Medical examiners said he died from compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police. They ruled his death a homicide. On December 3, 2014, a Grand Jury decided not to indict Pantaleo.
April 7th, 2015, 50 year old Walter Scott was killed by 33 year old Michael Slager (Read here), but this time around, the cop is being charged with murder because a video shot by a bystander contradicted Slager’s account.
This begs the question why? Why are the men who swore to protect human lives being the ones taking them. Guaranteed that some of these people exhibited some shady characters, but does that justify such extreme use of force. Take the case of Walter Scott, he was overweight and older than his shooter, if the cop wanted, he could have easily chased him down. So, why did he decide to use Scott as a target practise?
The number of African Americans being shot and harassed by white cops is on the increase and I think something really needs to be done.