Two black men shot by police in as many days this week. Video of both incidents that shows the undeniable injustice of each situation. Grieving families and communities because two cops made risk assessments that were inordinately weighted towards using their guns because of the color of the victims’ skin.
This system is not just.
Alton Sterling and Philando Castile did not deserve to die. The fact that they were armed doesn’t matter; as so many gun proponents like to point out, being in possession of a gun doesn’t equate to being hostile. The videos of Sterling’s shooting show him fully pinned by both officers with no apparent way to reach the gun that was in his pocket. Castile was fully licensed to carry a gun and told the officer that he had it in his possession before he made any movements to retrieve his ID. There was no reason for either of these men to be shot.
I’ve been mulling over this news for a good part of the day, wondering what there is to be done. The treatment of Black people by police is a massive problem, and in the wake of these events it feels like an accomplishment just getting white people to recognize that something is wrong with our society that fails to do anything to stem the tide of police-on-Black violence. This is what white supremacy looks like, and we’re all complicit in it.
If this is an issue that you care about, it might be worth tackling the problem at the local level first. A friend of mine pointed towards these practical points from Ijeoma Oluo on Twitter:
I took half an hour this morning to write my local commissioner after learning that our city’s local police department doesn’t have any sort of independent oversight for its internal affairs investigations. It’s small, but it’s concrete, and it’s a thing to do when sympathy feels hollow.