Black Victims and White Privilege

by Emrys Westacott

On June 22, in Los Angeles, five police officers responded to a complaint about music being played too loud in the middle of the night. A pit bull attacked one of the officers. Armando Garcia-Muro, a 17-year-old high school senior, restrained the dog, but it got free and charged at the police. Two of the officers fired six to eight rounds at the charging dog. One of the bullets hit and killed Garcia-Muro. Images

In May of this year, Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old pregnant woman, at home with three young children, reported a burglary. Two officers went to her apartment, aware of the fact that she suffered from mental illness and that there was a good chance they might encounter threatening or dangerous behavior. According to the officers' account, when Lyles threatened one of them with a knife, they both fired shots at her, killing her immediately.

In July 2016, Philando Castile was pulled over for a broken taillight. He was driving with his girlfriend and her four-year old daughter. He informed the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, that he had a firearm (for which he had a license). Yanez, apparently concerned that Castile was pulling the firearm out, shot him seven times. The incident was recorded on the police car's dashcam. Yanez was charged with manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm. Earlier this month, Yanez was acquitted of all charges.

The list of such incidents could be multiplied indefinitely. Trayvon Martin; Alton Sterling; Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Danroy Henry, Tashii Brown; Sam DuBose; Charles Kinsey; Terence Crutcher, Eric Garner…… It sometimes seems that hardly a day goes by without a news report of a black person (usually unarmed) being killed by police offers (often, but not always, white) in circumstances where the use of deadly force seems wildly excessive.

Read more »