Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s names ring through our society right now as the names of the black men killed by police. The lost lives of these men symbolize the source of this incredible protest movement getting so much media coverage.
However, the movement did not start with just those two killings. The mainstream corporate-controlled media coverage finally gave into reporting about the movement once the opposition to these kinds of killings reached a certain critical mass after these more recent killings of Brown and Garner. Then of course the mainstream media’s coverage gave it even more steam.
The movement has been around for a while and has grown every time the police kill a person, especially when that person is a racial minority, especially when that person is unarmed, especially when that person is not committing a violent crime, or most upsetting of all some combination of the above.
Thousands of people are killed in the USA by police each year. They have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, children, friends. Before you or I ever heard the name Mike Brown or Eric Garner, this movement has been gaining momentum every day because people despise seeing their family, friends and neighbors needlessly slaughtered by police.
Today I bring you a list of other parts of this movement for other individuals whose precious lives have been lost to the needless overuse of a violent police force to among other things wage wars on non-violent people over marijuana or untaxed cigarettes. These wars lead not only to the deaths of the non-violent “criminals” but also to the death of unarmed people as collateral damage. So here it is:
Killed by Police in the USA
A 12-year-old boy shot to death by police after a man called 911 to report the boy had a “probably fake” gun at the park (source). The two responding police shot the black boy immediately after jumping out of a police car even though, according even to Deputy Chief Tomba, the 12-year-old did not threaten or point the airsoft gun at the police officers (source). Prior to the incident, one of the two responding officers, Timothy Loehmann, had been described by supervisors as an emotionally unstable recruit with a demonstrable “lack of maturity” and an “inability to perform basic functions as instructed” (source). The other, Frank Garmback, had already lost an excessive force lawsuit for $100,000 (source).
Dillon Taylor was an unarmed 20-year-old shot to death by police while exiting a 7-Eleven in an area where police happened to be searching for a suspect who had allegedly been waving a gun around. Dillon was wearing headphones, listening to music and already facing and walking away from police with his hands under his shirt when the police arrived at the scene. The police shot Dillon to death within a minute of arriving at the scene. Dillon was unarmed and thus never able to point or pull a gun on anyone. Dillon was listening to music and had been drinking (but not driving!) prior to the incident, which seem to have lead to him being confused and not quickly responsive to police commands. However, even without the music and drinking, any unarmed, non-violent person suddenly being screamed at by who-knows-who from behind would probably be confused. But judge for yourself, the incident was caught on video: YouTube Video of Dillon Taylor Shooting
John Crawford III was a 22-year-old shot to death by police in Ohio. John was shot to death in a Walmart after picking up an unpackaged toy gun in one of the aisles and carrying it around with him. John never pointed it anyone. Allegedly thinking it was a real gun, police shot John to death while John was talking on his cell-phone with the mother of his two children. At the time of the shooting, John was holding the toy in his left hand and not pointing it at police (source with video). Ohio is an open carry state, so even if it had been a real gun John would have been committing no crime.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones was a 7-year-old girl whose brains were shot out by police when they stormed her home in a no-knock raid while she was sleeping at 12:40 am. Police were following through with a warrant to arrest Aiyana’s neighbor. The two homes were part of a duplex, but even though the two homes were not connected internally, police decided to raid both homes. The intended suspect was arrested in his home without incident. During their surveillance of the duplex, it is unlikely that investigators could have missed the presence of four young children and a multi-generational family in the neighboring home. Moreover, a man named Mark Robinson was detained on the sidewalk while walking his dog, just before the raid. Mark repeatedly told officers, “There are children in the house.” A mere 3 seconds passed from the time of the first shouts until officers entered the home. Aiyana was shot in six seconds. (source) No-knock raids are very dangerous. And, while in this case they were looking for a real suspect who just lived somewhere else, many times the raids are simply in connection with the war on non-violent drug offenders and lead to similar deaths of innocent bystanders.
Twenty-year-old Brandon Ellingson drowned while in highway patrol custody after he was arrested for drinking while boating. The police originally alleged that young Brandon accidentally fell out of the police boat and then fell out of his life jacket while handcuffed and then drowned. While that may sound like one of those unrealistic chain of unlikely events scene from a Final Destination movie, stranger things have happened. However, the story takes a drastic turn when eyewitness accounts are revealed. Eyewitnesses saw Brandon with his head above water next to the stopped patrol boat. Not realizing Brandon was handcuffed and since trooper Piercy was not calling for help, the witnesses did not realize Brandon was in danger since they figured the police would help Brandon if he was. They did not think much of it until they later learned Brandon drowned–and was handcuffed. (source)
Danielle Willard was a 21-year-old girl shot to death by Police Officer Cowley in Utah. Cowley drew his weapon on Willard allegedly as part of a “lifesaving effort” after he saw her put a black substance into her mouth just a minute or two before he fatally shot her (source). Cowley alleges that he then shot the girl because she then hit him with her car and he thought she was running over his partner. However, even the DA ruled that the shooting was unjustified because the police officer’s lives were not in imminent danger since (1) Cowley was not behind Willard’s vehicle when she began to back out, but rather at the side of her car, (2) the detective was not hit by her car or knocked down, and (3), even though the other officer was lightly brushed by Willard’s vehicle, Cowley did not see him get hit. (source)
So there you have it. 6 unarmed people killed by police in questionable circumstances. And writing this post has broken my heart. My hands are shaking as I write this.
While racism by both law enforcement and the judicial system is a huge problem in itself, and while black people are indeed at greater risk of being murdered by the police, the fact that half of the people listed above are white shows that being killed by police affects all races directly.
These are only 6 people. While each life is so valuable that any one is worthy of massive protests, thousands of people are killed by police in the US every year.
Some might argue that every profession has bad apples. But I think that puts too much blame on the police. The problems that cause these massive amounts of needless deaths and suffering are systemic. They stem from policies enacted by wealthy politicians and their cronies and the special interests who fund the politicians’ campaigns and fund the salaries of lobbyists. The expensive drug war–just for one example–leads to many unarmed, innocent people including children being killed by police; But the billions of dollars that are spent on that needless war benefit the few people who receive those billions of dollars each year. It also financially benefits the leaders of police unions, even though it puts the lives of actual police on the streets in more danger. I do NOT believe police want to see the people like those above die either; I think they sign up because they want to protect people, and they do not make the policies that lead to thousands of people like the ones above being killed. What a situation in which responsibility is avoided, in which one group decides on the violent policies but another group of working people like you and I are made to carry them out… ‘War’ is an appropriate name for that.
What do you think? Let’s at least start a discussion about all these lives lost. Please leave a comment about this below.