Korryn Gaines’ Black Life Mattered, Too

Thoughts by Benjamin YoungSavage, words by Daniel Harris.

I want you to look into the face of Korryn Gaines. I want you to put aside your biases. I want you to put aside the information you think you know about what lead to her death. I want you to look into the eyes of a young mother, an activist and a woman not afraid to claim her agency and her sovereignty.

On August 1st, this 26 year old woman was killed by Baltimore County Police as they attempted to serve a warrant in connection with a past traffic violation. Upon entering her apartment, an hours-long standoff ensued. At least one of the officers shot Gaines, killing her and wounding Gaines’ five-year-old son. Portions of the standoff were filmed by Gaines and posted to social media networking sites. However, upon police request, Facebook deactivated Gaines’ Facebook and Instagram accounts (which were later restored after her death). Last month, it was revealed that the officers involved in the standoff and Korryn’s subsequent death will not face charges.

Whether you agree with her politics or her method, the fact remains that a life was taken under some very shady circumstances. The fact is, Korryn Gaines did not and does not deserve the dehumanizing treatment she received by the Baltimore County Police Department, the media and the public.

This piece was created to honour a life that was taken too soon. It was created to honour another life taken by state sponsored violence. I wanted to share this piece, along with my thoughts on this event, with a larger audience. In doing that, my intention was to encourage some people to think (or rethink) their views surrounding this incident. After all, we are only receiving one side of the story.

I posted this piece on 4chan.com, a forum site for people to gather and discuss a wide variety of topics. I post on a variety of websites during the birthdays of the people in the pieces, and since it was her birthday, I didn’t do anything different. One of the more interesting features of 4chan is the ability for users to remain totally anonymous (not even screen names) while interacting with each other. As we have seen on many forums and comment platforms, this digital anonymity can often lead to racist, sexist, homo/transphobic comments by users. With there being no accountability, users are free to spew their hateful rhetoric.

That is exactly what I experienced when I decided to post my piece on 4chan. Now, I am no stranger to receiving hateful messages. As a white person deeply invested in Black Liberation, I see my fair share of hateful comments and messages. I honestly cannot say that I was surprised by the mixed reaction this piece received.

Korryn Gaines 4chan
Korryn Gaines 4chan
Korryn Gaines 4chan

The part that did surprise me was instead of dealing with those hateful individuals, 4chan decided that my piece was the problem and deleted it. Even with a posthumous gesture, Korryn Gaines cannot receive justice and fair treatment. While my piece may have been removed from places like 4chan, that will not deter me from continuing this fight to have true justice for all.

Be on the lookout for Korryn Shandawn Gaines at upcoming shows.

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