Not On My Watch: Standing Against Police Killings

For several days I have not been able to read about Jordan Edwards murder because it is too painful. A fifteen year old child should not be dead at the hands of a police officer who is shooting in a car that is driving away from him. Our voices cry out across the country that it has to stop. But it doesn’t stop. Every 28 hours another African American and sometimes other people of color are being killed by the police and I daresay though it is predominantly African Americans and mostly males.

The heartbreaking truth is that this continual attack upon African American males is not incidental or accidental. As long as Black men have been in this country there has been disdain for them. Some of it grew out of fear of them which was probably rooted in the White male’s thoughts about the fact that retaliation was justified on the basis of the treatment that Blacks were experiencing as slaves. That fear along with what should have been waves of guilt for holding another human being in slavery fueled a very mean and destructive spirit in White males. A spirit that is still alive and well.

No wonder it was necessary to create all of the negative narratives about Blacks. There had to be a story to match the horrible reality that was being foisted on the human beings who were snatched from their lives and loved ones on the Continent of Africa and brought under conditions that were worse than any one could have ever imagined to this world. In order to traffic in such an indefensible trade and to create the miserable living conditions that slaves had to endure, anyone with any human consciousness would have to make up a story to justify that behavior.

So the story was created and then the rules, regulations, laws, customs and every other social mechanism needed were created to support that story. Our most clear support to this narrative can be found in the 13th Amendment and the way in which it provided for the Republic to continue to enslave Black people years after slavery ended by simply making them criminals.

The spirit of that Amendment continues to be alive and well. It it fueling the fires that keep the Prison Industrial Complex in place, supports the death penalty and makes it possible for police officers to shoot unarmed Black people and other people of color without being held accountable, at least for the most part.

Jordan Edwards should not be dead! He was murdered and the police officer who has been fired now, should actually be in jail. I have many questions about that event. The first one is why was he using a rifle in the city to shoot at anyone? Why did his fellow officers say the car was backing up when it was clearly going forward? Why was he fired? If he was fired for wrong doing, then why is he not in jail? An innocent 15 year old boy is dead. His only crime is that he was Black and lived in America and had the audacity to go out with his own brothers and friends to a party which evidently they felt that they needed to leave and their leaving put them in the way of a police officer who was obviously out of control.

All of us who have any capacity for empathy and compassion should be grief struck and we should be angry. I am grief struck. I am angry. I am sick and tired of hearing stories of abuse of Black and Brown children. We have to stand against the abuse of our children in the schools and we have to stand against the killing of our children. The children belong to all of us and all of the caring adults in this country need to get that idea fixated in their heads and hearts.

Hopefully, many more of us will get pushed beyond our comfort zones and start trying to find clear and concrete ways to stem this horrible tide of terror that continues to ravish our communities of color. This bad news is being read by too many while sipping their morning coffee and going on to the next page of the paper without stopping to realize that this news is calling us to come out of our silos of comfort whose illusions of peace and safety have lulled us into immobilization. This news is calling us to action.