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VIEWS: Talking guns and race
by Andrew Davis, Windy CIty Times...
2016-07-08

This article shared 362 times since Fri Jul 8, 2016
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On July 8—the same day many learned about the shootings of police and a civilian in Dallas, Texas—I learned that the lockdown of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. had been lifted after 40 minutes after a person of interest had been investigated.

However, I have to admit that the first things I wondered were the race of the person and what actions would have been taken if said person had been Black.

This is how I became conditioned after a week that saw the police-related shootings of two African-American men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, in, respectively, Minnesota and Louisiana. (Even Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said, during a press conference, that he didn't think Castile would have been killed if the driver and passengers in the car were white.) After learning about the ambush of police in Texas, I just started rethinking the country is becoming like The Wild West—a concept that initially formed after the June 12 mass shooting of LGBTA individuals at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

I did not always think this way. Growing up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, the schools I went to (all public) were racially integrated, with people of all races hanging together. (If someone brought a knife to school, it was a big deal.) It wasn't until I went to a small liberal-arts college in central Virginia that things changed from a racial perspective—from students crossing the street to avoid me to one fraternity having a black lawn jockey in the front yard and holding "Old South" every year.

Moving to Chicago (as much as I love the city) has only exacerbated some of those old feelings—on some days. The Windy City is very diverse (with many different and wonderful neighborhoods), but there's a sad lack of integration. Moreover, I still get those interactions I first experienced during those college years—although, in the big city, it extends to people even avoiding sitting next to me on public transportation.

And I've also had my run-ins with police—such as the time a cop asked me to get in the back of his squad car because a bank robbery had taken place nearby (although I was walking toward the bank, which I'm pretty sure a robber wouldn't do). Then, there was the time I was stopped (by a Black cop) while jogging; after being questioned for a few minutes, he said something to me I've never forgotten: "This will happen to you again."

I do think that if I hadn't been compliant in either case, who knows what could've happened?

By the way, there are a couple of conceptions that I'd like to confront:

—To those who say, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people": Let me tell you something—people with guns kill people. (You need both to make the action happen.) If you remove one of them from the equation, guess what happens (or, rather, doesn't occur)?

—To those who rant about Black-on-Black crime in light of police-related shootings: Of course, Black-on-Black crime happens and is a problem that also needs to be curbed/eliminated. However, police are sworn to serve and protect. It can affect people six ways to Sunday to have their sworn protectors turn on them. It boils down to "Who protects us?" Also, many marches and vigils take place regarding Black-on-Black crime—but they don't get nearly as much coverage as cop-related incidents.

—To those who say, "All lives matter": Again, that phrase is stating the obvious—but that seems to be only in theory, not in practice. Black Lives Matter exists to emphasize the inequality African-Americans deal with (and have had to contend with) every single day.

I'm definitely not down with what happened with the police in Texas, by the way. Demonstrating peacefully is one course of action, but this "eye for an eye" business is not cool—and it only serves to escalate things. (I should also stress that the actions of this sniper were in no way connected with the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest that was taking place.)

As for the shootings of Castile, Sterling and the police, it's interesting to note that people reacted with outrage, sadness and frustration—but not surprise.

That should tell you something.

Andrew Davis is the managing editor of Windy City Times.


This article shared 362 times since Fri Jul 8, 2016
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