It seems like each week, we read a new headline involving a young black male being shot, choked, or killed by police. This isn’t a new trend, but what is new seems to be the media’s attention to them.?In 2014 alone, the American people have been wrapped up in stories of wrongful death after wrongful death. With Monday night’s grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown’s death, it is no different.
Above are six?of the cases this year that have pulled America up and made the public cry out. What is happening in Ferguson, Missouri, which is on the out-skirts of St. Louis, is a break down of the public that has become outraged by?the excessive force used on members of the African American community.
While Eric Garner was not the first domino to fall, his story became widespread. Garner,?a father of six living on Stanton Island, NY, sold untaxed cigarettes for extra income. The sale of untaxed cigarettes is a class E felony, and?local bodega owners called to complain about the illegal sales impacting their store’s revenue. New York Police?were dispatched to “crack down” on the crime. What happened after officers approached Garner is undisputed as it was caught on video.
You can hear Garner scream that he could not breathe while officers put him in a choke hold and then restrained him against the pavement. Garner was pronounced dead at the hospital. A coroner report ruled his death a homicide. Garner’s case is in front of a grand jury to determine if the officers will go on to face criminal charges for their actions. This one death went on to catch national coverage for the following weeks, eventually feeding into the hysteria of three?deaths all within days of each other.
August 5, 2014, John Crawford III was at his local Walmart?on the phone with the mother of his two small children. Crawford was holding a pellet gun and perusing the aisles of the store. Suddenly, cops surrounded Crawford and shot twice. Crawford died on the scene. The mother of his children, LeeCee Johnson, was on the phone the entire time. She ran screaming to his parent’s house where his father heard his son’s final moments over the phone. What lead the cops to storm into a store and gun down a customer? A 911 phone call that stated that Crawford was walking around Wal-Mart pointing the pellet gun at other customers. Surveillance video from the store never corroborated that account, and the 911 caller later recanted his statement. The grand jury in Crawford’s case declined to file charges for his death, and Ohio State lawmakers proposed legislation that would make all toy, BB and pellet guns distinguishable from real weapons.
August 9, 2014, Michael Brown was walking home with his friend Dorien Johnson when officer Darren Wilson approached the pair in his car. It remains unclear what happened within the initial altercation, but we do know Wilson’s gun went off, and the two young men ran off. Brown was shot six times. Some witnesses say he was shot with his hands up at one point. He died at the scene. Brown was unarmed. Despite claims,?he was?not a suspect in a robbery. The outrage surrounding Brown’s death followed after the Ferguson PD withheld information about the shooting until a week after. Protests have continued on in the city, drawing attention from groups like the KKK and Anonymous. Monday night, the Grand Jury moved to not indict Officer Wilson on any of the five charges.
Ezell Ford’s story may not be one you know off the top of your head, but you should.?Ford was stopped by the LAPD, August 11, 2014, where a “struggle” ensued. Police argued that Ford was resisting, and officers?shot him. His mother argued that her son lay on the ground while police executed him. Ford was said to be mentally limited. An unnamed relative stated:
?They laid him out and for whatever reason, they shot him in the back, knowing mentally, he has complications. Every officer in this area, from the Newton Division, knows that ? that this child has mental problems.?
The mother of Ford also said that when she asked which hospital her son was being sent to police refused to answer and even approached her with billy clubs. An investigation into his death is still ongoing with no formal charges being filed.
The?final two stories are of Darrien Hunt and Tamir Rice. While Hunt was an adult at the time of his death, Tamir was only twelve.
Darrien Hunt was walking in Japanese cosplay with a replica?samurai sword when cops approached him. The police officers said Hunt became agitated,?pulled his sword out, then started swinging it around. Officers responded by shooting him several times, including in his back. The Utah prosecutors’ office sided with the officers, saying their shooting was justified. Darrien’s family has been outspoken, planning to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
Tamir Rice was killed two days ago while?playing outside with an Airsoft gun. Details are limited still at this time, but I will say this, he was?a child. This was somebody’s baby. His crime was playing with a toy that looked too realistic.
The numbers line up like this. Young African American males have?21 times greater?a chance to be killed by a law enforcement officer as young white males are. In a country that is divided politically and still sees racism day in and day out, it is not a surprise that Ferguson is responding in the way they are tonight. Young black and Latino males are subject to harsher treatment and sentencing than whites still today. I don’t condone violence or riots, but I scream for justice and equality. The issue of race and the discrimination that people of color see every day will never go away unless we talk about it.