Death and Dallas

The Dallas shootings which claimed the lives of five people, and injured at least six others, were a long time coming.

That is not the same as saying that the cops who got shot deserved it, or that the shooter was justified, but rather acknowledging what has long gone on in America.

For years now we have been reading stories about black people getting killed by the police – and stories about the police getting away with it.

Tamir Rice was twelve years old when he was killed by a cop for playing with a toy gun in a park.

The shooting was deemed “reasonable” by outside experts.

Freddie Gray was arrested for having a switch blade, in a nation where they can’t even pass laws to keep rifles out of the hands of terrorists.

He fell into a coma and died of spinal injuries while in the custody of the police. There were officers facing charges on this.

Two were acquitted of all charges by the judge, a third ended up in a mistrial as the jury couldn’t reach a verdict – so he is to be retried in September, and the fourth’s case is still ongoing.

Quartz reports that more black people were killed by US police in 2015 – than the worst year in Jim Crow.

And society is not willing to convict.

We hear about how the victims were ‘no angels’, when a black man, or child dies we hear every single bad thing they ever did to kill our empathy.

And the killers get away with it.

It seems to always be justified, when the victim is black.

Philando Castile was murdered the other day.

“Oh my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead, please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that. You shot four bullets into him, sir,” Lavish Reynolds told his uniformed killer.

Castile was killed after he reached for his ID, after the officer told him to hand it over.

And who believes that a US jury would ever find his killer guilty?

So I look at Dallas, I hear the condemnations of the US president, and I see that this disaster was a long time coming.

Something has to change, and it has to change all the way through the system. A switch blade should not be a death sentence in a country where you can buy a sniper rifle, bullets should not be deployed against someone armed with Skittles.

Children should not be killed for playing in a park.

When the police kill, the public should expect justice. Without justice, there is only vengeance.

About the Author

Bruce Gorton is a columnist for TimesLive in South Africa.

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