My regular readers know that I have friends in all walks-of-life, and some practice old-school lifestyle avocations. I communicate with them as often as possible and sometimes their perspectives serve as viewpoints I use in my articles.
I have a friend who could be called a naturalist. He’s retired and spends as much time outdoors as possible. He hunts and fishes for consumption and studies efforts to conserve wildlife. Although non-empirical, he also studies the relationships between humans and animals and how humans often use animal characterizations to interact with each other.
His theories, though unsettling, often make sense in the broadest of contexts. He recently spoke of what conservation departments define as nuisance species. These are animals that aggravate human populations with which they come in contact, and over which no agency regulates harvest/execution. For example, coyotes inhabit most of the lower 48 states and wreak havoc on domestic livestock and protected wildlife. In most places, coyotes can be taken without limit 24/7/365. This is called OPEN SEASON.
My friend believes that law enforcement officers, institutional representatives and others exercising life and death control, view Blacks as a nuisance species and pursue their systematic elimination. In the context of recent shootings and other acts of violence against people of color, his assessment seems brutally accurate. Open season is real for Black folks.
If I tried to list the growing number of Blacks murdered under suspicious circumstances or those executed under the watchful eyes of witnesses or the camera, I would quickly use the allotment of words I am allowed for each article.
Few can forget the videos of Sandra Bland, a female warrior who refused to cower in an unjust traffic stop; Walter Scott, who was shot in the back while running away from police; Laquan McDonald, a 17-year old who was shot 16 times while initially attempting to walk away from the police; and, most recently, Philando Castile, who was shot in the chest 5 times by a renegade police officer who falsely accused Philando Castile of reaching for his firearm.
In these cases, and others, video abounds that would lead a deliberate and thoughtful juror/viewer to determine that, at the least and if necessary, police COULD have used an alternative method to apprehend/arrest the subject they ultimately murdered.
Sandra Bland was roughed up by her arresting officer and thrown to the ground in a manner that wouldn’t be tolerated for a White woman. Sandra’s mysterious “suicide” while in custody seems an all too familiar consequence for incarcerated Blacks.
The fear for one’s life is an all too familiar excuse used by police. Michael Slager shot Walter Scott and used it after the shooting and his video-taped tampering with evidence. Jason Van Dyke used it when he shot Laquan McDonald 16 times as he lay on the ground dying. Jeronimo Yanez, who shot Philando Castile while he expressly declared his intent to reach for his wallet and firearms permit, has been acquitted because of the “terror” he faced while dealing with a cooperative citizen.
To date, only Slager, who pled guilty after a mistrial, will receive prison time for his misdeeds. Others have been acquitted of wrong-doing, and others await adjudication. What’s clear is a pattern of callous disregard for the lives of Black people. The same can’t be said for police dogs. I read that Kelontre Barefield, a 23-year old Black man, was sentenced to 45 years for shooting a police dog!
Maulana Karenga says, “Eventually, seeds sown will have to be harvested. And it is a good and promising practice if we dare to sow seeds of justice, freedom, peace and all things good which point toward and make possible the continuing flourishing of humanity and the ongoing well-being of the world.”
Dr. E. Faye Williams, President of the National Congress of Black Women. 202/678-6788. www.nationalcongressbw.org