It would be very difficult to find a juxtaposition that articulates how many Americans (Black and non-Black) feel about our country’s concept of justice better than two stories I read this morning.
The police shooting death of a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun in Cleveland has sparked an investigation — and questions over why officers opened fire instead of using a stun gun. Two officers have been placed on administrative leave pending a probe into Saturday’s shooting of Tamir Rice.
Tamir’s father, Gregory Henderson, questioned why police chose to open fire instead of use a stun gun on his son. “Why not tase him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body,” Henderson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Tamir — who was shot in the torso — died of his wounds on Sunday morning.
Turns out Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is only in hiding when he wants to be—over the last week or so, he reportedly auditioned at least five TV anchors at a “secret location” in preparation for a sympathetic interview.
Perhaps you believe Darren Wilson was in legitimate fear of his life. And maybe you think Tamir Rice’s death was unfortunate, but ultimately justified because his toy gun looked very much like a real gun. Considering what we know about each case, these are not completely unreasonable conclusions. But, to make those conclusions, you have to make certain interpretations; judgments influenced by a cocktail of your own personal feelings, experiences, biases, and opinions. Perhaps even a little bit of spin.
The following facts cannot be spun. They are clear and sober. Juxtaposed, the clarity and sobriety of these facts is jarring.
Darren Wilson, a White police officer who killed an unarmed Black teen, is currently preparing for his national network debut. He is carefully screening anchors and networks at a safe location, presumably to choose the combination that gives him the best chance of articulating his side of the story. While this is happening, the family of Tamir Rice is mourning and preparing to bury their son, a 12-year-old Black boy killed by the police. He will never be able to articulate his side of the story.