Just another isolated event

By Michael Vass | February 19, 2010

Just days ago the Government decided that there was nothing more they could do to pursue justice in the Sean Bell shooting. After 4 years and 50 shots, nothing has been done besides “normal police actions”.

Help prevent another name from joining the list.

Across the country, in an odd coincidence, a Black man was unarmed and shot in the back by police. No I’m not speaking about Robbie Tolan, or Adolph Grimes, or even Oscar Grant. I mean the shooting of Aaron Campbell in Portland.

I know, with all these cases being so similar it’s hard to know which police shooting of unarmed Black men I could be talking about. Not that this is an epidemic or a pattern that someone should investigate or report.

Aaron Campbell was a man that had just lost his brother to heart disease. He was understandably upset. As was his family, because they knew he had a gun in his house. But the family made one mistake. They called the police.

Police arrived and text messaged Campbell if he was going to harm himself. He replied
that he had no intention of killing himself. Sgt. Liani Reyna, commander at the scene, believed the situation was over.

She is quoted as saying “I’m ready to walk away from this, we don’t need to be here.”

At that time Campbell came outside, unarmed, hands on his head. What do you think the police did next?

Obviously they felt that Campbell was still dangerous. Because he is a Black man and he must have the strength of Hercules, and the skin of Superman. The police near simultaneously told him to raise his hands over his head, shot him with non-lethal bean bags, and sicked a police dog on him.

Campbell ran, which is not entirely a strange thing to do as a dog attacks and the confusing reactions of police. As Campbell ran police claim he reached for his waistband. Here is the critical moment.

Just like Amidou Diallo (41 shots), like Sean Bell (50 shots), like Oscar Grant (1 shot while he laid face down on the ground), like Robbie Tolan (1 shot as he was on his knees), like numerous Black men across the nation, police were 100% sure that this meant Campbell had a gun. So they shot him in the back with a AR-15 (the civillian version of the military M-16 rifle) and killed him. They left his body on the ground while the police dog bit it, for half an hour, before they checked it (maybe they thought he was a vampire and would just get back up).

The police were loaded for bear, and bagged an unarmed Black man. What do you think happened to the officers involved in this? Nothing. Just a letter from the Multnomah County grand jury stating

“We feel that his death resulted from flawed police policies, incomplete or inappropriate training, incomplete communication and other issues with the police effort.”

Have you heard that before? I have. Too many times. In cities across the nation (L.A., Philadelphia, New York, Oakland, Dallas, do I need to go on?), in “isolated” “justified” police shootings of Black men every year for decades now. But I bet that most people haven’t heard a word about 1/5th of them.

But today the Dept. of Justice has decided to look into this case. Just because it’s a “routine” thing to do.

I don’t think there is anything routine about it. Aaron Campbell did not need to die. Nor did Oscar Grant (a case that won’t go before a jury for another year oddly enough). Nor Sean Bell. Or a whole list of men (and Black women too) shot with enough bullets to kill the army of France [ok I'm exaggerating, France and Belgium combined].

At what point to people stop avoiding this “isolated” event that keeps repeating multiple times a year in every corner of the nation? At what point do people stop dreaming and proclaiming America is post-racial, and start noticing the very racial bias of police? Will it take a police officer shooting one of the Obama children 5 or 10 years from now to make someone in the major media notice there is a problem?

I’m not saying that every police shooting is unjustified or unreasonable. But I am saying that there are way to many examples of excessive force and deadly action, focused directly on African American men, without the hint of reason. And I am tired of it.

In real life we don't get our loved ones back. Help stop this game.

Stop the game!

Topics: Black and White | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Just another isolated event”

  1. Commentary: Trayvon and our silence | VASS political blog

    [...] in most households, they are all emblemic of a problem in the nation. That problem is the use of deadly force against Black men and women and other forms of abuse, based entirely on race. It’s a problem that has existed [...]

  2. What is the Obama Administration stance on race in America? | VASS political blog

    [...] are other cases that are similar. As covered by a site of M V Consulting Inc. which we [...]

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