“Just be more respectful to the police!”
“Comply and cooperate!”
“Black people wouldn’t keep getting shot if they stopped acting like criminals!”
A behavioral therapist and an autistic man. The therapist (black) was on the ground with his hands in the air. He identified himself to the police. He told them the other man was playing with a toy truck.
The police fired three shots. They hit the therapist in the leg. They handcuffed both men, and left the therapist bleeding in the street for 20 minutes.
When the therapist asked why he’d been shot, the officer allegedly said, “I don’t know.”
Later, he said he’d been aiming for the autistic man, but missed. (Three times.)
To those blaming unarmed black men for being shot by the police, how will you justify this one?
Yes, being a police officer is a difficult job. There are times when you have to shoot to stop the bad guy, to protect your life and the life of others. Apparently the police had received a call about a suicidal man with a gun earlier that day.
But if you can mistake a black man on the ground with his hands up and an autistic man playing with a truck for an immediate and deadly threat, maybe you shouldn’t be a police officer.
What will it take for this country to realize so many of these police shootings are unnecessary? To realize how many people are dead for no good reason. For no reason except our learned fear of black men?
And the fact that they’re trying to *justify* this by saying the officer was shooting at the autistic man? Horrifying. Frightening. Disgusting. And another example of our abysmal handling of psychological and mental health issues, both as a society in general, and in law enforcement specifically.
There are individual police departments working to do better. There are a lot of good cops out there. But it’s not enough. We need to do better as a nation. More training, accountability, and less-lethal options from the people we have empowered to enforce the law. (Better laws would help as well, in many cases.) We need to demand better from our elected leaders, and vote out those who refuse to push for changes that would help everyone, including the police.
Until we do, innocent people will continue to be shot. They will continue to die. And for what? The crime of being black? Of being mentally ill?
Stop making excuses. Stop letting people die while we look the other way. Stop pretending everything’s fine because acknowledging anything else might make you uncomfortable. Stop enabling a culture and a system that steals the lives of innocent people.
Did the officer consciously and deliberately set out to shoot an innocent, unarmed black man? I highly doubt it. He may be telling the truth when he says he was intending to save the therapist from an (imagined) threat.
But intentions don’t stop gunshots. They don’t heal bullet holes. They don’t bring back the dead.