This year,six unarmed black men have been killed by the police. So far, none have faced indictment. The #BlackLivesMatter movement on Twitter has swept communities all over the country, but do black lives REALLY matter in America?
Antonio Martin, 18, was shot by an officer at a gas station in St. Louis, MO on Christmas Eve. The officer claims he suspected Martin to have a gun and responded first. The video suggests he pulled out a phone, but officer Andrew Weusthof, fearing for his life, responded with gunfire.
Jerame Reid, 36, was shot multiple times by an officer after a traffic stop. The officer drew his weapon and ordered Reid not to move. Reid had his hands up and stated he was going to slowly get out of the car and get on the ground. As he stood up, the officer fired a minimum of six times. After reviewing the footage on the dash-cam, the department decided to stand by their officers by saying this was a “justified shooting” as he was ordered to not get out of the car, or he would shoot him.
Anthony Hill, 27-year old Air Force veteran, was in a mentally incapacitated and naked state, and an officer shot twice and killed him. Hill did not stop when officer ordered, and somehow, posed as a threat. Naeschylus Vinzant, 37, removed his home-monitoring device and when police arrived to the scene, shot him in the chest. Anthony ‘Tony’ Robinson, 19, was suspected to have been involved in a domestic dispute and an officer forced his way into his residence where shots were fired. Robinson was unarmed.
Most recently, Martese Johnson, a student of the University of Virginia, was brutally beaten by police after an off-campus misunderstanding. Johnson was denied entry to an Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day, and was stopped and aggressively questioned by police. He required 10 stitches and was charged with public intoxication and non-forceful resisting.
Following the attack on student, Johnson, a body of a black man Otis Byrd, 54, was found hanging from a tree, already decomposing, in Mississippi. He had recently been paroled after being in prison for 30-years. Byrd was sentenced for robbing a grocery store of $101 and murder.
Mind you, it’s only March, every public assault or attack on these men have been “justified” in some way. Martin had a phone in his hand that was misinterpreted for a gun. Reid was trying to do what he thought was the right thing. Hill might have been high on medication. Johnson tried to get into a bar with a fake ID. Byrd was a murderer, thirty years ago.
My understanding of the duty of a police officer, or the department itself, is to protect and serve the people. I was under the impression that the portion of my tax dollars that contribute to the police academy training would go towards officers knowing how to interact with suspects without using deadly force. For example, James Eagan Holmes murdered 12 people with automatic weapons in a movie theater, and he was successfully apprehended, detained, taken to jail, had a trial and the law decided his fate, as the founders of this great country had so intended, without a scratch on his bright orange hair-dyed head.
The list of unarmed black men that have been murdered in the public eye with no indictment continues, which leaves me to wonder: do black lives REALLY matter? Or is it just a dope hashtag? Until the movement moves off text, that’s all it will ever be.