Friday night, we lost a Black man that we didn’t have to lose. By all accounts, he was literally doing the one thing that wasn’t bothering anyone. He was sleep. Sleep inside of his car in a Wendy’s parking lot. Allegedly inebriated. Sleep nonetheless. Now, he’s dead. By now you’ve heard about the death of Rayshard Brooks and have likely no doubt made your mind up about how you feel. The initial news reporting surrounding this incident was horrible, but I’m not here to analyze that.
We’re currently in the midst of one of the most powerful movements in American history. For the first time, in my lifetime, people are paying attention. I could analyze whether all of the attention towards Black life – and specifically Black death is genuine, but this isn’t the place for that either. In all of the analysis of Black death at the hands of white vigilantes and police officers that use excessive force, the response to this most recent Black death has been interesting. Similar to the way many in Black culture have decide “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t apply to ALL Black Lives (LGBTQ+, women, etc), many have decided that this movement and fight we’re in has nothing to do with Rayshard Brooks. I’ve even heard ‘I believe the police need to be held accountable, but this Rayshard case is different.’ It’s not different. Rayshard’s story definitively shows us why we are where we are.
I think the problem with a number of people understanding this Rayshard Brooks story is:
1. You believe that Black people should just listen to the police and comply, without cause. You have been conditioned that we are more violent (all people of all races feel this way) — I say Black because white people (and everybody else) will mouth off, charge, disagree, yell and curse at them.
2. You have only seen one video. One perspective. Read one article. The police were talking to Rayshard for 28 minutes without incident. It’s not a crime to be sleep. As we’ve been telling you, it’s deterimental to call the police on Black people, especially when there’s no danger. When this is done, danger magically appears. You can still think what you think. Know that perspective enhances.
3. The sobriety test. The safest place for a person that is inebriated is a parked car, even if it’s in the way. Criminalization ensues when someone is tested without cause. While there are technicalities in anything, driving under the influence is what is dangerous. Lethal in many cases. This man should’ve moved his car and went back to sleep or called someone to come get him. He should’ve never been tested.
4. The scuffle. After being cordial and having a conversation for 28 minutes, taking a sobriety test and of course failing, the police move to make an arrest. Visibly flustered, it’s no surprise that he didn’t want to be arrested (as we now know additional details — based on his own YouTube videos) because he was on probation.
I believe that true rage entered both police officers when they attempted to tase him and he snatched it. I don’t know what I would do if somebody attempted to tase me, but if I knew, that drunk, I had the ability to stop it — I would have. He didn’t intend to harm the officers and even an attempt to tase an officer is a non-lethal response. Where most will feel (again, I believe this is conditioning) he was in the wrong — he “fled.”
I am not of the belief that he was wrong though. What lethal crime (because we all know public intoxication is enough for an arrest) did this man commit? Why shoot and not chase? Where was the threat? Often the response (for those that don’t follow police brutality cases closely) is that the officer “feared for their life” just standing next to a Black man. This one was running away. Drunk. To whom was he threatening? For why did the officer shoot?
This was unnecessary force. You know it. I know it. The city knows it. There wasn’t a weapon. This wasn’t a crime scene.
That is why Erika Shields resigned.
That is why APD is scrambling.
That is why the GBI is involved.
But you, still feel “he shouldn’t have ran.”
You feel like “he’d be alive.”
You are still biased. You believe the system was built to protect Black. But it wasn’t. It was never designed to serve and protect all. It was literally designed to police runaway property. It isn’t broken, it’s just wrong. Rayshard was shot because he’s still considered property. Like your Black body and mine. Your neighbors. Your Black child’s. There was nothing that justified this death.
Rayshard’s death iss the reason we’re protesting. History tells us, either way he was screwed.
RIP Rayshard Brooks.
I see you.
The Myth And Reality Of “Black On Black” Crime
Following the wrongful shooting of Jacob Blake, conversations regarding police brutality permeate social media, news cycles, and dinner tables. Routinely the idea of “Black on Black” crime always manages to enter these spaces of discussion. “Black on Black” crime is dually a myth and a reality, here is why.
What We Know:
- “Black on Black” crime is a subset of the statistical data that quantifies crime as a whole. Therefore alongside “Black on Black” crime, there is “White on White” crime or even “Asian on Asian” crime. So statistically, “black on black” crime is a very real tool to measure crime.
- According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2019, crime victimization statistics report those who commit violent acts tend to commit them against members of the same race as the offender. The report noted that 62% of violent incidents committed against white victims were perpetrated by white offenders and 70% of violent incidents committed against Black victims were perpetrated by Black offenders. The data from the BJS report shows that crime has more to do with proximity and likeness than any other variable.
- A similar concept used to deflect from issues of police brutality and white supremacy is the idea that there is a disproportionate amount of crime perpetrated by Black people in comparison to any other race. While this trope carries weight, crime is more closely related to poverty than race. In order to break the cycles of violence within a given community, it is imperative to dismantle the systems of white supremacy that keep a community in poverty.
- The emphasis of “Black on Black” crime is intentional. There is an agenda behind constantly reducing a community to being violent. The concept stirs conversations of police brutality away from white supremacy which is ultimately the most pressing enemy of Black people in America.
- The narrative of “Black on Black” crime will continue to plague dialogue regarding race across America; however, unarmed Jacob Blake was shot in the back by Wisconsin law enforcement seven times in front of his children all under the age of 8-years-old for attempting to break up a fight. Whereas Kenosha shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse safely remains in custody after parading an assault-style weapon around a peaceful protest and ultimately murdering two Wisconsin protestors.
The treatment of White, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, in comparison to 29-year-old, African American Jacob Blake proves “Black on Black” crime is not the enemy of black people – law enforcement is.
Opinion: Mayor Bottoms, Atlanta demands action
Demands for an Embattled Mayor
Dr. Vonnetta L. West, Pastor, Our Neighbor’s House
We, the people of Atlanta, demand:
- Immediate disciplinary action and arrest of any officer who shoots an unarmed human being, beginning with the officers who shot Rayshard as he was fleeing.
- A clear peace plan for officers engaging people who are intoxicated, asleep, homeless, unarmed, mentally ill, etc.
- A strategic plan to reallocate an agreed upon percentage of APD funds to ensuring equity in education, housing, environmental health, etc.
- Funding for training communities on how to deescalate conflict and how to resolve grievances without police involvement
- Demilitarization of the Atlanta Police Department.
Danger strikes as New York Times staff revolt over Tom Cotton’s publication
Danger sets in the U.S as The New York Times publishes Tom Cotton’s use of military force.
What We Know:
- The New York Times faced a backlash late Wednesday by running an Op-Ed and publishing it as part of the news. Many of the staff members came out and “shamed” the Times for publishing this opinion-based article and igniting more fire as well as danger in the community.
- In the wake of the many riots all over the U.S, President Trump threatened the use of the United States army by the Insurrection Act to act as needed and use physical force against protesters.
- Republican Senator, Tom Cotton supported the President’s threat and urged the US army to show “an overwhelming show of force” to restore order.
- The New York Times employees and subscribers revolted over Tom Cotton’s remarks. Below are a few tweets out of the many that responded:
Surreal and horrifying to wake up on the morning of June 4 – the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown – to this headline. pic.twitter.com/vNtiFz3vqq
— Amy Qin (@amyyqin) June 4, 2020
Love your work Jenna, but had to cancel @nytimes today for this reason
— Ceda DEFUND THE POLICE Shiiiiiiiiong (@slobear) June 3, 2020
- The union that represents the Times staff issued the following statement, “Though we understand the Op-Ed desk’s responsibility to publish a diverse array of opinions, we find the publication of this essay to be an irresponsible choice”.
- Editorial page editor at The New York Times, James Bennet published a post on his Twitter account regarding the importance of publishing the Op-ed post of Tom Cotton. He stated that The New York Times knows how painful and “dangerous” it could be. However, they “believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate”.
The Times editorial board has forcefully defended the protests as patriotic and criticized the use of force, saying earlier today that police too often have “responded with more violence — against protesters, journalists and bystanders.” https://t.co/XdjnhuAVax
— James Bennet (@JBennet) June 3, 2020
- Executive Editor of The New York Times stated the difference between opinion pieces and news articles and how they are both published on the home page but they are not news.
- Following the union that represents the Times, the NewsGuild of New York that represents many Times journalists said in a statement that the “Op-Ed promotes hate”. NewsGuild also stated that “media organizations have a responsibility to hold power to account, not amplify voices of power without context and caution”.
Our statement: pic.twitter.com/0XgUBv9IIv
— NewsGuild of New York (@nyguild) June 4, 2020
- Along with several sources dropping The New York Times because of the published article, it has also caused about 800 staff members to sign a letter protesting its publication.
Following the uproar from staff and subscribers spokeswoman, Eileen Murphy for The New York Times later backtracked their support on James Bennet’s approval to publish the article and said the following: “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards”.