So the marching, demonstrations and the making
of “good trouble” continue…
What a hectic year 2020 has been for African Americans so far.
It’s only August but after the ups and down of the past few months battling an unrelenting virus, marching, protesting and kneeling against the insistent evil of police brutality while calling for racial equity it’s understandable why so many are truly out of breath
But now they are being called back out on the streets.
This time to demand justice for 29 year old Jacob Blake who on Sunday August 23, in a not-too-familiar town called Kenosha on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, a police officer pumped seven bullets into his back as he apparently tried to enter his car where his three of his 6 children– sons aged 3, 5 and 8- were sitting and bawling their heads off as they witnessed their father being gunned down.
It’s not clear what led to Jacob becoming the latest poster child of seemingly endless acts of police brutality towards Black men but what the world saw on the cell phone was an unarmed guy, diminutive in stature walking away from group of burly white officers before being shot in the back… Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has more cases related to police killing Black men than he would like said in a statement that Blake “did nothing to provoke police” and was “only intending to get his children out of a volatile situation”.
“Witnesses confirm that he was not in possession of a knife and didn’t threaten officers in any way,” he added.
Miraculously he is still alive but with his spinal-cord ripped apart by the bullets the young man would be lucky if ever walks again.
The authorities say they are investigating the “incident.”
The police union cautions: not to jump to conclusions, which might be a little difficult for Black people and their allies given the freshness of the memories of George, Breonna, Ahmaud and the many others on that fateful list.
So, the marching, demonstrations and the making of “good trouble” will continue.
But in the midst of it all… here comes Kyle Rittenhouse and others of his ilk, angry white men with guns who are troubled by protestors and all the destruction that they cause. (Obviously they are not too bothered by what causes the protest.)
They are referred to as ‘militias’ but in they are gangs of white guys with guns in a state where anyone over the age of 17 is allowed to carry a gun openly and without a license.
Rittenhouse is said to be 17. Apparently from some of his social media posts, he wants badly to be in law enforcement and he holds a passion for the president of the USA. A couple of media outlets show him front and center at a Trump rally.
On the second night of the protest he took his gun a military-style semiautomatic rifle slung it across his back and went on the streets of Kenosha to do his perceived duty… protect businesses and keep an eye on protestors.
The police seemed OK with him but protestors were not…push came to shove and he was challenged… he shot three people, killing two and seriously wounding one.
With so much happening on the streets, people are reacting in different arenas….
On the evening of August 26, the basketball courts remained empty as players in the NBA— fed-up of entertaining a nation that does not seem to give a shyte about Black lives and racial equity— decided not to play ball.
“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” read a statement from the Milwaukee Bucks who were supposed to play the Orlando Magic that night.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable…. For this to occur, it’s imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
Following that stand the NBA postponed the two other games that were supposed to have been played which in the eyes of LeBron James, the world’s greatest player, ever, was just as well: he tweeted: “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”
Other professional leagues such as Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and WNBA followed suit and postponed their games.
On the political front the response continues to be predictable.
And it started with the former president Barack Obama who took to twitter to commend professional athletes and coaches for standing for “what they believe in” because as he stated “It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.”
That coming from a man who had eight years in the highest office of the land, the goodwill of more than 75 per cent of the American people and the tacit support of both the House of Representative and the Senate yet did nothing significant to address the decades of inequities that have blighted Black communities across the USA.
That’s why a good chunk of African Americans have chosen to stay away from the ballot boxes after his shortcomings. Of those who did, almost 15 per cent of Black men chose to vote for Trump.
All of this might be too bad for good ole Joe Biden, who in response to the nastiness that‘s taking place on the streets could only offer that he support “peaceful protest,” and is troubled by “senseless violence.”
It’s way easier to stomach President Donald J. Trump’s response: “LAW AND ORDER” in Kenosha by sending in troops. “We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets.”
In 2016, he won the county by about 250 votes, a recent report say more people in Kenosha think they’ll vote for him.
In the meantime, African Americans and their allies for continue on their seemingly quest for justice for yet another Black man murdered by the police.
As usual it’s not going to come easily because accountability is not built in to the system where Blacks and police interact.
So after all the demonstrations and the political shenanigans, it’s left in the hands of some like attorney Ben Crumps to figure it all out.
On his website he too has a lot of unanswered questions:
Questions remain. First, should walking away from a police officer be a death sentence? As many protestors have pointed out, police aren’t supposed to shoot “guilty” people either. Second, why do incidents of non-black people disobeying police orders usually not end in shootings? If the officers feared Mr. Blake was retrieving a weapon, why did they not use a taser or other non-lethal techniques? Finally, why were their guns drawn when Mr. Blake was unarmed?
In the coming days, some of these questions may be answered. However, deeper issues remain at the heart of this country’s police procedures that require a significant overhaul.
As Karissa Lewis, national field director of the Movement for Black Lives, opined, “There’s no amount of training or reform that can teach a police officer that it’s wrong to shoot a Black man in the back seven times while his children watch.”