Good Morning Everybody.
Late yesterday afternoon, at around 4pm, police officers in Florence, South Carolina went to serve a search warrant on an affluent white home there. They have not yet released the details on what the search warrant was for or even given the name of the suspect, but soon after officers arrived on the scene, they came under fire.
Three officers from the Florence Police Department were shot, including Officer Terrence Carraway, a Black man who was a 30 year veteran of the force. Officer Carraway was wounded so badly from the gunfire that he died there on the scene.
Soon, more officers from the Florence County Sherriff’s Office arrived on the scene, and for nearly three hours they engaged in a standoff with the suspect. During that standoff, one more officer from the Florence County Police Department was shot, and three more officers with the Sherriff’s Office were shot as well.
If you’ve lost count, that makes 7 police officers who were shot by this man – including Officer Terrence Carraway, who was killed.
Yet, police continued to negotiate with the shooter for over 3 hours, until he finally agreed to surrender to police. When they arrested him, he had not been shot, stabbed, choked, beaten, maimed or sprayed with pepper spray.
By now, you must’ve guessed it.
He was white.
And of course he was – every single person in the country who was following this active shooter situation knew he was white – because only a white man could shoot 7 police officers in broad daylight and live to tell the story without a single scratch.
Let me be clear – I’m not criticizing these police officers. Not at all.
What I am saying is that this is the exact kind of methodical restraint and unending patience we would LOVE to see with Black folk.
Let me unpack this for a moment.
For years and years, we’ve heard that American police need to better trained on how to diffuse violence, that they need to be better trained on alternatives to lethal force, that they need to be better trained on how to wait a situation out, so that nobody gets killed. I used to say that myself.
But what we saw yesterday shows us that police absolutely know how to use restraint. They absolutely know how to be patient and wait a situation out. They know how to go into a situation where mortal danger is a very real possibility, and take an armed, violent suspect out of that situation alive.
They’ve been trained.
It’s not that they lack the training on how to do these things. It genuinely appears that it’s not training that’s a problem. It’s that they sometimes lack the desire to restrain themselves. And it seems that we can pretty boil down that restraint to two things: zip codes and skin color.
When police officers are in predominantly white zip codes, particularly predominantly white affluent zip codes, they level of restraint and patience they are able to muster is a sight to behold – because when those same officers are in predominantly Black zip codes, we aren’t familiar with that restraint.
Had Eric Garner, who was unarmed and non-violent, simply received the same patience and restraint that this armed, violent white murderer received yesterday, not only would he be alive today, all he likely would’ve received was a ticket.
Had Tamir Rice or John Crawford received the level of restraint and patience that this white man received yesterday, not only would they still be alive today, they wouldn’t even have gone to jail or received a ticket. Neither one of them even broke the law.
Right now, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is on trial for shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. In the trial we learned that Van Dyke shot Laquan at least 12 times after the boy fell down on the ground – firing so many shots that the cop had to reload and his gun and continue firing. Where was that magical restraint for Walter Scott? Where was that unending patience for Amadou Diallo?
We’ve seen this not dozens, but hundreds of times.
And all we’re asking – is for non-violent Black folk, for unarmed Black folk, to be treated with the same level of respect and restraint as armed, violent white murderers.
I’ve gotta run, but all we’re asking is for you to treat our best like you treat their worst. Treat our babies like you treat their murderers. That’s the deal we’re trying to make – and it’s embarrassing and shameful that those are the terms, but that’s all we’re asking for from America’s police. Show our communities the same restraint that you show school shooters, mall shooters, movie shooters, mass murderers, and random violent white men who shoot seven cops on a Wednesday evening. You clearly know how to show restraint. Now show it to us.
Shaun King: ‘Treat Our Babies Like You Treat Their Murderers’ was originally published on blackamericaweb.com