For a country that has branded itself to be “The Land of the Free”, the US sure seems to have any number of societal issues that seem nothing short of repressive. Astronomical medical bills, college debt spiralling out of control and gun violence and deaths unmatched anywhere else in the Western world leave millions of everyday, regular Americans feeling anything else other than free.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is another societal ill that the US continues to languish under – police harassment, brutality and full-blown murder against the
African-American community. The latest disgraceful manifestation of that was the gunning down of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth, Texas by police officer Aaron Dean on October 12 th 2019.
The circumstances of Atatiana’s death are simply mind-blowing. Absolutely minding her own business, staying up late and playing video games with her eight-year old nephew, Atatiana was unaware that a neighbour had made a “welfare” call to the local police (the reason for the call, apparently, was that a door to the apartment had been left open.)
Dean’s subsequent actions, as an officer on call to the scene, defy belief.
Prowling up to the window of Jefferson’s apartment, with no verbal shout-out as to the police being on site, Dean saw Jefferson through a window, yelled “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” and within literally a split second, fired a single shot at Atatiana.
That single shot killed her.
Atatiana was in her own home.
Her nephew saw her fall from the gunshot that took his aunt away from him forever. Dean was in no danger whatsoever, but he still recklessly pulled the trigger. And
yet another innocent black life was wiped out at the hands of a white cop.
Justice has since been partially served in that Dean was charged with Atatiana’s murder two days later. Of course, Dean needs to be tried fairly in a court of law and has every right to defend himself. Unlike Atatiana who never had any chance to defend herself whatsoever. Time will tell if Dean is to be found guilty by the Court and, dependent on that, the severity of the sentence imposed.
Whatever the verdict and whatever the sentence, it will of course do nothing to return Atatania to her family.
As we know, there is a bigger picture at play here. Just eleven days prior to the senseless death of Atatiana, former Texan policewoman Amber Guyger was convicted of the murder of Botham Jean. And that is shockingly poignant because Botham Jean was also in his own home when he was shot by Guyger, a white cop, who mistook his home for hers.
When is the undeclared police war on innocent black folk ever going to end?
Sadly, the tragic tales of Atatiana and Botham are just two of the most recent examples of police violence against African-Americans. Just as there have been any number of cases before Atatiana and Botham, there surely will be more to come:
“About 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in America can expect to die at the hands of police, according to a new analysis of deaths involving law enforcement officers.
That makes them 2.5 times more likely than white men and boys to die during an encounter with cops.”
Source: https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2019-08-15/police-shootings- are-a-leading-cause-of-death-for-black-men
This has to stop. And for those that don’t think there is a problem with police violence against black people in America, then they simply aren’t sharing the same reality as the rest of us. The fact that there is a very good reason for an organization called “Black Lives Matter” to actually be a thing, in twenty-first century America, is, if you stop to think about it for a second, quite jaw-dropping.
Really, why should there be any such need?
There has to be a fundamental, root and branch overhaul of policing in the US as this simply cannot be allowed to continue. This isn’t just the elephant in the room of race relations, it’s an entire herd. Until such time as African-Americans can have complete confidence in policing in their neighborhoods, their communities, their state and their country, then the Land of the Free will continue to be nothing more than a cruel illusion for millions of its citizens.