Tuesday, September 20, 2016

His Name was Terence Crutcher

The murder of unarmed Terence Crutcher in Tulsa today is only the latest evidence that the protests started by Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback, are based in sad reality, that something dramatic and fundamental needs to change, and change soon in our country.  As I wrote earlier today on Facebook:

“His name was Terence Crutcher. He was unarmed. Now he is dead. Killed by police officers, who thought that, even though he wasn't armed, he still was a dangerous man.

“And yet, I guarantee that more people will mention Colin Kaepernick by name tonight than Terence Crutcher. Because the quarterback's name is better known, and he is more visible than yet another black man being shot by police for being black. Because the rest of us would rather argue about an overpriced athlete, even on the rare occasion when one of them shows a social conscience publicly, than confront the REAL problem that there are too many police officers (NOT ALL of them, any more than NOT ALL other athletes care only about themselves and their salaries and endorsements -- just too many for us to remain silent) who find ANY man of color suspicious and dangerous, too many who are not screened for and trained to overcome their biases, equipped with the social tools they need to serve all citizens in their jurisdiction.

“SO tonight, I symbolically take a knee, and thank the quarterback for being a leader off the field as well as on. And tonight, I will mention the name of the murder victim -- Terence Crutcher -- so that he does not die anonymously, so that his family and friends who mourn his senseless death can gain a small amount of comfort, so that our world is forced to confront an ugly truth that is too often and too easily ignored.

“And, to be clear -- I still support the police in general. I still respect our flag, and will stand up to defend all the ideals it symbolizes. But when not all of us can say these two things, legitimately, when the headlines scream again that this is not one athlete's spoiled opinion, but an ugly truth that will not go away by itself, I will not stand silently by and allow the status quo to continue because of my silence. So I will stand for my flag and my country. I will stand for and with the police who daily put their lives on the line, and hope the day comes soon when those with whom I stand will also stand up against the abuses of those who drag them down with them by their misdeeds. I will stand for the too many Terence Crutchers. And I will stand for the man who refuses to stand for the anthem, to make us all stand for what is right, even as he takes a knee in protest.”

The following is an incomplete list of similar shootings from April, 2014 through the April, 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore while in police custody, taken from an article on Buzzfeed that is acknowledged, and links to lists for all of 2015, and the first half of 2016.  The numbers are shocking, but we cannot allow these victims to be reduced to anonymous statistics, which is why their names, and some data about their lives and deaths are included.  I apologize that I had to resort to the links after the first article, but the copying and transcription process became too daunting.  I hope this effort makes clear just how real the need is...

April 30, 2014: Dontre Hamilton, 31 (Milwaukee) -- was fatally shot 14 times by a police officer in a Milwaukee park. The officer was responding to a call from employees at a nearby Starbucks alleging that Hamilton, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was disturbing the peace. The officers who arrived first determined that Hamilton wasn’t doing anything illegal. Officer Christopher Manney showed up later and, after trying to pat Hamilton down, engaged in a struggle with him that led to the shooting. Manney was not charged.

July 17, 2014: Eric Garner, 43, (New York) -- was killed after he was put in an illegal chokehold for 15 seconds by a white police officer — allegedly for selling loose cigarettes. Garner said “I can’t breathe” 11 times as he was held down by several officers on a sidewalk. The officer who put Garner in the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, was not charged.

Aug. 5, 2014: John Crawford III, 22, (Dayton, Ohio) -- was shot and killed by a police officer at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. There did not appear to be a confrontation with the police, and Crawford was unarmed — he had been holding a toy BB gun. The officers involved in the shooting, Sean Williams and David Darkow, were not charged.

Aug. 9, 2014: Michael Brown Jr. , 18, (Ferguson, Missouri)unarmed, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. In November, 2014, a grand jury declined to charge Wilson in the fatal shooting. Brown’s death and the lack of charges against Wilson sparked protests, some of them violent, in Ferguson and across the nation.

Aug. 11, 2014: Ezell Ford, 25, (Florence, California) -- a mentally ill man, was shot three times, including once in the back, by a white police officer. He was unarmed.
The investigation is still ongoing, but it has been placed on an “investigative hold”. So far, no charges have been filed against Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, the two officers involved.

Aug. 12, 2014: Dante Parker, 36, (Victorville, California) -- a father of five, died in police custody after being repeatedly stunned by a Taser in San Bernardino County.
The local investigation is still ongoing, but the NAACP has called for the federal government to take over, according to the San Bernadino Sun.

Nov. 13, 2014: Tanisha Anderson, 37, (Cleveland) -- died after officers in Cleveland allegedly slammed her head on the pavement while taking her into custody.
Anderson’s family said she had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The investigation into the case remains ongoing, and no charges have been filed against the officers involved.

Nov. 20, 2014: Akai Gurley, 28, (Brooklyn, New York) -- was shot and killed by a police officer while walking in a dimly lit New York City public housing stairwell with his girlfriend. Gurley, who was unarmed, was pronounced dead at a hospital. New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton called the shooting an “accidental discharge.”
The officer, rookie Peter Liang, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of official misconduct.

Nov. 22, 2014: Tamir Rice, 12, (Cleveland) -- was shot and killed by Cleveland police after officers mistook his toy gun for a real weapon. The two police officers involved, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, have not been charged. Rice’s family has filed wrongful death lawsuit against the officers and the city of Cleveland.

Dec. 2, 2014: Rumain Brisbon, 34, (Phoenix) -- was shot and killed by a Phoenix police officer who mistook a pill bottle for a weapon. The officer, Mark Rine, was not charged following a probe by the Maricopa County attorney’s office, according to the New York Daily News.

Dec. 30, 2014: Jerame Reid, 36, (Bridgeton, New Jersey) -- was shot and killed by police officers in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He was a passenger in a car driven by his friend, who was pulled over by police. In dashcam video footage of the stop, an officer is heard claiming that there is a gun in the glove compartment. Police shouted at Reid not to exit the car, but he did, with his hands apparently in front of his chest. That’s when officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley opened fire, striking Reid. Days and Worley were placed on administrative leave with pay for the ensuing investigation, which remains ongoing. The shooting sparked protests and calls for the state attorney general to also investigate.

March 6, 2015: Tony Robinson, 19, (Madison, Wisconsin) -- was shot and killed by a Madison police officer who was responding to reports of someone disrupting traffic.
Police said Robinson allegedly assaulted the officer, who then shot him three times. Robinson was unarmed.
The investigation remains ongoing.

March 31, 2015: Phillip White, 32 (Vineland, New Jersey) -- died while in police custody in Vineland, New Jersey.
Police had responded to a call about White acting erratically and called an ambulance because he appeared to be in medical distress. A violent encounter ensued, and video footage appears to show a police dog biting White while he is on the ground.
White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The officers involved have not been charged as the investigation continues.

April 2, 2015: Eric Harris, 44, (Tulsa, Oklahoma) -- was shot and killed by a 73-year-old reserve deputy officer who allegedly mistook his own gun for a Taser. The entire incident was captured on a dashcam video. The officer, Robert Bates, was charged with manslaughter.

April 4, 2015: Walter Scott, 50, (North Charleston, South Carolina) -- was shot by a police officer while running away from a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Officer Michael Slager claimed Scott had taken his stun gun. Slager was subsequently fired and charged with murder after a video surfaced showing Scott running away, his back to the officer, as Slager fired his gun.

April 19, 2015: Freddie Gray, 25, (Baltimore) -- died of a spinal cord injury a week after he was arrested by Baltimore police. It’s still unclear how Gray sustained the injury. Officials say he was stopped after fleeing “unprovoked upon noticing police presence” and arrested for allegedly possessing a switchblade. He was put in a police van, which is where police say he suffered a medical emergency. The officers involved in his arrest were placed on leave, and on Friday, the state’s attorney announced that they had been criminally charged in connection with Gray’s homicide.  No convictions resulted from these charges.

(from Buzzfeed, 5/1/15, not updated for further action against officers after date of publication, except for Freddie Gray – this is NOT a complete or comprehensive list of such victims in this period)

see also, http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed on the more than 100 unarmed black people killed by police in 2015,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-people-killed-by-police-america_us_577da633e4b0c590f7e7fb17 for killings of blacks by police in 2016, through July 7.  (note – these are ALL police killings of blacks for this period – armed and unarmed)

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