I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, even before Jordan Edwards was killed, but I never knew how to put together the words. I’m still not sure if I will eloquently or even sufficiently, but there isn’t much time or use getting lost in those details.
I’ve been aware that black and brown people are treated differently than white people for as long as I can remember. When I moved from one town to another, around 11 years old, my circle of friends slowly and steadily changed from a mix of different colors and races to white. This was before social media so when you moved, and you were too young to drive, you moved. I was able to visit one friend for about a year of living in my new town but it drifted off. And once we were both in high school our lives got too busy and separate to maintain our friendship. College was a little better but still predominantly white. So I’m not saying I’m a white girl who grew up side by side with black people my entire life and you should listen to me. But I am saying that you don’t need to have a black best friend to know the senseless killings of black bodies is wrong. I’m also saying that I don’t have the answers, but I’m learning. I’m educating myself. No matter your upbringing you cannot hide behind ignorance. In today’s world ignorance is a choice and, often times, a privilege. The facts are laid out right in front of you if you just look. I’m learning that police brutality, especially to those of color, isn’t something that’s mimicked in movies and representing something of the past. I’m learning that any white man (no matter their occupation) who kills a black man has their character scrutinized AFTER that of the man or child that was killed. If a black man gets arrested in 2005 and then another man kills him randomly in 2017, the 2005 arrest warrant will make headline news. In my opinion, based on my observations, it’s as if black men who are murdered are treated in the same manner as woman who are raped. What did she do in her life that shows she was asking for it? What did he do in his life that shows he deserved to die?
This really came into light for me when Trayvon Martin was killed. I honestly thought there was no way in hell any one could twist this story as if this teenage boy deserved to be shot and killed walking home from the store, after being followed by a complete stranger. And then I noticed what some people were saying on social media and it made my stomach turn. The most alarming and disheartening comments came from guys that I went to high school with. They were guys that cut through yards to take a short cut, or cut through yards to get away from cops because they were either drinking under age or smoking weed. They were guys that got into fights with other groups of guys, often. They were guys that ran from cops so they wouldn’t get charged with underage drinking, or so their parents didn’t have to get a call in the middle of the night to come pick them up. To pick up their drunk son, not their dead son. They were guys that I highly doubt would want to be treated as an adult based on the choices they made as a teenager, or even as a 20 year old in some cases. They are guys that most likely never fear for their life when being questioned by an officer. They were all white guys. And they believed Zimmerman acted out of self-defense and it was Martin’s actions that got him killed. It was also Trayvon’s possible interests and social circle that justified his killing from a complete stranger. But why are we searching a teenage boy’s social media for photos that could be interpreted as a “problem?” The kid was just killed for walking at night while black.
A couple of times I would stop and comment on one of their posts. I’d ask if they remember cutting through neighborhoods, hoodies up, through the night. Because, really, that’s all Trayvon was doing. Back in high school a friend of theirs was killed. Shot to death. His crime was driving a beat down car through a nice, rich neighborhood. One of the guys who noticed his car decided to follow him. He didn’t stop following him. They pulled over to a friend’s house. He pulled over. Words were exchanged by both parties. The guy who was somehow threatened from a jalopy in his neighborhood, pulled out his gun and shot him 10x dead. Breakdown: someone who didn’t know the other person, completely judged him based on his appearance, followed him. Kept following him. The one being followed began to feel threatened. A confrontation happens. The one who started the following killed the person being followed. Sound familiar?
With the exception of one being in a car and one being on foot, the stories are almost identical. Yet, somehow, so many were not making that correlation. The killing that happened in my hometown had a white victim, the killing in Florida had a black victim. If my memory serves me right, the guy who killed someone in my hometown did turn himself in and was arrested immediately. Zimmerman, what? Shook hands with the officers? And it was not until the media and activists started making some noise that charges did even get brought up? And then he didn’t even get a guilty verdict? The white guy that killed a white guy did go to prison, though his sentence wasn’t nearly enough either. But it was something.
Today our most recent senseless killing of a young black man happened in Texas, when a police officer decided to fire his weapon into a car with black kids and killed 15 year old Jordan Edwards. He was shot in the head and killed right in front of his brother and friends. They were then taken in for questioning. They weren’t charged and were later released, but could you even imagine being ripped away from your dying sibling and then being questioned? After seeing your young brother with smoke billowing from his head where a man just landed his bullet? Very quickly we learned about Jordan. We learned he was a straight A student and a talented athlete. People can’t really tear that down–but what if he struggled in school? What if he was barely passing his classes and wasn’t involved in any extra-curricular activities? Why the hell does that matter? He was in a car with his brother and friends leaving a party. He was shot dead. He was never a threat. No matter his grades or his activities, he was never a threat.
After being caught lying about what happened Roy Oliver, the officer who murdered Jordan Edwards, was fired. A few days later he was arrested and charged with murder. Not even a full day after that he was out on bail. There’s a lot of hope coming from many different places about the fact this guy was actually fired and charged. But will he be convicted? Should he be convicted?
Yes, he should be convicted. He should be convicted of murder, no plea deals of a lesser charge. Murder. He killed that young child. He killed that mother and father’s son. He killed someone’s brother. He killed someone’s student. Someone’s friend. If the jurors or the judge don’t care much about that, then they should care about themselves. Justice has got to be served in the unprovoked, uncalled for killings of black men by police officers. Period. Tamir Rice was 12 years old. Nothing. They have got to serve him the guilty verdict and he needs to serve time in federal prison. This precedent that’s been set of being able to kill whomever you’d like because you get startled easily as a police officer needs to stop. So even if these people don’t give a shit about young, bright Jordan Edwards they should care about their place in history. Will he be convicted? I’m not holding my breath. I thought for sure the officer who killed Philando Castile would be convicted. Shoots him through the passenger window while reaching for his wallet (that he was told to grab)–dead. And then somehow he wasn’t convicted. Was he even charged? Michael Slager pleaded guilty to civil rights violations, finally, after killing Walter Scott. His punishment and sentence hasn’t been determined yet. So, right now, I’m hoping that justice will finally be served and this little boys family can maybe feel that their child didn’t die in vain, but I’m pretty damn skeptical.
And to be completely honest, I have no idea what to do. I don’t know how to help. I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to wake people up. Everyone needs to get on board, no matter how you vote and no matter what you look like. Everyone.
Today we learned that the father of Jordan Edwards is suing Roy Oliver and the police department. I hope with all of my heart that the end result of that lawsuit goes in the family’s favor, not that any monetary amount can replace the irreplaceable. And I hope Roy Oliver is convicted of murder.
Image of Jordan Edwards