Another black man was killed at the hands of police, and subsequently, another case of character assassination and victim blaming has begun. This time the officer involved shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
Wright was killed on Sunday during a traffic stop by Brooklyn Center Police Department officer, Kim Potter when officers pulled him over for a traffic violation and found out that he had an outstanding arrest warrant. He was shot as he tried to get back in his car when officers tried to handcuff him.
Police said Potter had inadvertently pulled her gun instead of a taser. What’s worst, Potter was field training a young cop at the time of the shooting.
With that, officers provide a certain group in society with fodder to blame Wright for dying and dismiss Officer Potter’s actions as merely a mistake thereby delaying having the much needed conversation about meaningful police reform.
Some people are more willing to accept the explanation that an officer who had been on the force for longer than Wright had been alive could not tell the difference between a taser and a gun instead of realizing that Wright, a young black father may have panicked in the situation and decided to run.
The use of excessive force by police has been a concern within the black community for decades. It recently reached public consciousness through the media covering a number of high profile officer involved shootings of unarmed black men.
Growing up in a black family, at some point we all get warnings from an elder about how to avoid, and survive an encounter with police.
So, we see officers from that point of view– as something to avoid at all cost, and survive if we are caught.
For many black and brown men who come in contact with police officers, they do not see a badge, they see a gun. They see arms that can be used as weapons in a chokehold. They see a knee that can be pressed into their necks–and so, many of us panic.
Instead of blaming Wright for dying, in the wake of the shooting, the country should use his death, as former President Barack Obama said to “reimagine policing”.
In most other lines of work, choosing the wrong tool is not a matter of life or death. It should not be the case with police officers.
A few officers resigning after killing a black man, or one going to prison here and there is not enough. The problem of officers using excessive force against black people is systemic within the force and something must be done, because if not, it will happen again.