Sunday, May 19, 2024

2016: Black Lives Matter and so does Black Lives Matter Movement.

July 25, 2016 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( By now, everyone has seen the video of a man in North Miami, Fla. – an unarmed Black man trying to calm a patient with autism – on the ground, his hands up, warding off police.

Charles Kinsey was working with a patient who had a toy gun in his hand. Someone had called police, saying that a man had a gun and police showed up, but they apparently ignored Kinsey as he lay on the ground, hands up, telling officers that he had no gun and that that which they thought was a gun in the hands of the man with autism was actually a toy truck.

They ignored Kinsey, and one of the officers shot him. Kinsey said he was surprised and asked the officer why he had shot him and the officer responded that he didn’t know.

To add insult to injury, officers handcuffed him after he had been shot.blacklivesmatter-2016-2016

The incident is maddening; had Kinsey not survived, the narrative about and around what had happened to him would have been swallowed up in law enforcement rhetoric. Citing that the “hands up” story of Michael Brown, the young man shot by police in Ferguson, Mo. two years ago, was cited as being false, the story would have been that this “hands up” story was also likely false. A video of the incident would have been thoroughly investigated and the officers would have been put on “paid administrative leave,” with the investigation showing, ultimately, that the officers were not at fault.


Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani went on a tirade at the Republican National Convention this week, saying that the Black Lives Matter movement is “inherently racist.” Former New York Police Detective Harry Houck said that Black people are “prone to criminality.” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said on television and to the attendees of the Republican National Convention that the Black Lives Matter movement is “anarchy.” He cited, angrily, the “fact” that the claim that Michael Brown had died from being shot by Officer Darren Wilson had proven to be false. He decried the violence being meted out on police officers now, blaming BLM and saying he had predicted it.

While murdering anyone is wrong, it is a fact that police have been killing unarmed Black men and women and getting away with it for decades. How many Black people have died at the hands of law enforcement officers while pleading for their lives we will never know. But what we do know is that these killings happen far too often and law enforcement officers who have been the shooters have gotten away with murder.

Even while we cringe at what happened in North Miami, the officers who were brought up on charges in the death of Freddy Gray have so far all been acquitted. Not wanting to face juries, these officers have chosen bench trials and the presiding judge has said not a one of them is guilty. In other words, nobody is responsible for the death of Freddy Gray. He just …died.

It is the disrespect of human life – Black life – shown by law enforcement officers historically that has people in the streets. Far from being anarchy, the BLM movement is a cry for justice – for laws to be made and adhered to that will stop it from being “OK” for police officers to shoot and kill rather than to protect and serve. The anarchy seems to be on the part of the specific police officers who know they are protected by law whenever they shoot and kill someone. They seem to kill without caring because they know “their world” and “their laws” will trump laws of human decency and respect.

It is a good thing that Charles Kinsey survived; it is a good thing that his situation was caught on camera and has been all over social media and major television and radio programs as well. It is not comforting or reassuring that the officer who shot him is on “administrative leave.” Those two words point to an impotent and unfair practice of “investigating” police misconduct, only to let offending officers off the hook.

That is why the Black Lives Matter movement must continue and grow even stronger, in spite of the cries and criticisms made against it. If Black people will not tell the story of what these rogue officers do to too many people, the story will remain the “dirty little secret” of officers.

Those officers, like priests who commit sexual aberrations against children, need to be exposed and be taken off the streets. All lives matter – yes, but in that “all,” Black lives have been eliminated. It’s time for that to change.

Columnist; Rev. Susan K. Smith

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