“There are other cases… of officers who seem to be ‘trigger happy.’ In a number of instances, Negroes have been shot, supposedly in self-defense, under circumstances indicating, at best, unsatisfactory police work…and at worst, a callous willingness to kill.”
(Excerpt from 1947 report “To Secure These Rights” produced by Harry Truman Committee on Civil Rights as quoted in opinion by Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King on June 19th, 2020)
We know about the callous willingness to kill from the names of just a few of the many African Americans who speak from their graves, American lives lost at the hands of police brutality in cities across the country. Samuel DuBose – Cincinnati, 2015. Terrence Sterling – Washington, D.C., 2016. Freddie Gray – Baltimore, 2015. Michael Brown – Ferguson, Missouri, 2014. Walter Scott – Charleston, South Carolina, 2015. Rayshard Brooks – Atlanta, 2020. Tamir Rice – Cleveland, Ohio, 2014. Trayvon Martin – Sanford, Florida, 2012. Breonna Taylor – Louisville, Kentucky, 2020. Eric Garner – New York City, 2014. George Floyd – Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2020.
This week Jacob Blake’s name was added to the 2020 infamous roll call of victims of “unsatisfactory police work” – this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As destructive wild fires raged in California claiming the life of a helicopter pilot attempting to douse the inferno, as a Category 4 Hurricane called Laura gathered the power to strike along the Gulf Coast shores in Louisiana bringing life threatening winds and water reminiscent of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, as the number of American lives lost in the worst pandemic of our history reached the dubious milestone of 180,000 +, a police officer shot an unarmed African American man seven times in the back when he attempted to get in the car where his three young sons waited and watched. Jacob Blake will likely be paralyzed if he survives the bullet wounds.
Doc Rivers, head coach of the NBA franchise Los Angeles Clippers, had an emotional reaction to the police shooting in an interview on August 25th. “…we’ve been hung, we’ve been shot…it’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country doesn’t love us back…the training (for police) has to change. My dad was a cop, I believe in good cops. We’re trying to get them to protect us like they protect everyone else…as an American you need to be outraged at that video. All we ask is that you live up to the Constitution.”
Yesterday the wide world of sports came to a grinding halt as athletes from both the NBA and WNBA, major league baseball and soccer teams all joined together to promote social justice through police reforms long overdue in our nation by boycotting their respective games. Players across the board said this killing of black people through police brutality must stop. Our lives do matter, they agreed, and we want to see genuine criminal justice changes that guarantee our families equal safety and protection under the law. Tennis players rallied around the protest of Naomi Osaka by postponing the semi-finals at the Western and Southern Open scheduled for play today. No justice, no peace, no sports.
Senator Kamala Harris reminded us in a statement this afternoon that our pledge of allegiance calls for “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We know, and we have always known that promise is unfulfilled for people of color, but now cell phones record that broken promise every time a video of these egregious acts goes viral on social media to be seen by anyone and everyone. Pretending, denying, disavowing, obfuscating no longer are viable options for people of good will who embrace the truth.
Wake up, America, it’s time to love them back. We can, and we must, do better.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned. By all means, VOTE in November.