The last few days have been overwhelming. It started when I viewed the video showing Alton Sterling getting shot. It was by far the most disturbing video I had ever seen. Sleep evaded me until 3:30 a.m. What I saw shook me to the core. There was a man standing there who was tackled by a police officer. He was then pinned down by two officers. One officer pulled out his gun and killed him. What shook me up was that this gentleman was completely defenseless at the time of his murder.
I have been trained in Handle with Care for ten years. On top of that, I wrestled or coached wrestling for over 15 years. I have a complete understanding of how the body can contort and the ways to stop someone from moving in a way you don’t want them to. In my opinion, there was no way that Alton Sterling would have been able to reach into his pocket, grab his gun, and point it at an officer or a bystander. This was the first time that I had little to no doubt that a man had died at the hands of the police that was not justified. Any previous time this had happened I had allowed my personal bias and belief that police were here to protect us.
My previous thought process went something like this. The (person of color) should have listened to the cop. They shouldn’t have had a gun. Why were the cops called on them in the first place? I wanted to believe that cops wouldn’t kill someone if they didn’t have to. I still believe that most cops wouldn’t do that. I no longer can say that they ALL wouldn’t kill someone when they weren’t justified. The video opened my eyes. I would imagine that it opened most of white America’s eyes as well.
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t dealing with watching the video of Alton Sterling well at all. It is not a video that you can unsee. My Voxer people were discussing what happened and I was just starting to process and deal with my emotions when Philando Castile was shot in his car while his girlfriend and a four-year-old were in the car with him. Unlike previous black men, the media was unable to label Philando a gang member or a hoodlum. He worked as a school cook for 11 years and moved up the ranks to a supervisor.
This was the type of man he was:
I watched a video of him dying while his girlfriend calmly narrated the series of events. You would have thought the whole thing was staged until you hear the police officer’s voice and you realize he was on the verge of cracking. Another innocent black man had been shot. We do not see him getting shot only the aftermath and the shaken voice of the officer.
My mind and emotions were in complete shock. All I could do was think about the two shootings. I did not want to discuss education even though Edcamp Voxer was in full effect. My brain didn’t care. The world was going crazy.
As you already know the heinousness was not done yet. An Afghanistan war veteran shot 12 people, killing 5 police officers. I again stayed up until 2 in the morning glued to my Twitter and Voxer trying to make sense of what happened. The next day I woke up and went to work at my summer camp. Thank god I was able to be around children. Innocent children who were worried about getting out in GaGa, playing cards and eating smores. Children who wanted nothing more than to high five me and hear me scream out in mock pain when the sound echoed across the gym. Children who were more invested in winning jolly ranchers and dum dums than figuring out why someone would shoot innocent people. I made sure to give a hug, handshake, and high five to every possible kid who would accept them.
The shooting of police officers was made even more heinous when I realized they were protecting the protesters of a black lives matter rally. They were not causing troubling or heckling the crowd. They were merely doing their jobs. Five more innocent people killed because someone thought shooting another human being was the answer.
Two more items stick out to me from that past days. The first one is that this man named Mark Hughes was a suspect in the police killings. No sooner was he a suspect than Twitter was posting videos of him running when the shooter opened fire. The police and the news were slower than social media!!! The upside to social media is that it does not have to be vetted. The news comes in fast and furious from multiple sources. The downside of that is that information is not vetted at all. We do not know what is real and what is false.
The bigger development that has not been discussed as much by the general public is that the shooter was killed by a police robot bomb for the first time on United States soil. I don’t know how I feel about this. The police were no longer in imminent danger. My view is that we do not kill someone unless they are going to kill me or someone else. The rampage was done. The shooter deserved a trial. Texas has the death penalty. He would have died anyway. What I don’t know is whether or not he could have hurt more people. If the answer is no the police should have waited longer before deciding to bomb him. They should not have put anyone is in mortal danger attempting to capture him; however, they could have waited for dehydration or starvation to kick in. We should not be killing anyone unless we need to. Again I do not know the entire circumstances but we should all be wary now that this tactic has been used without any repercussions by a police force.
Who else are police or our government allowed to kill on U.S. soil? Before you say this man deserved to die just think about what box was just opened. Where do we draw the line between who can be killed by robots and who can’t? Are police now going to be the judge, jury, and executioners? This should worry people. Any time we give the government more power without questioning their tactics we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our fellow citizens.
This week I have many more questions than answers. I don’t know how to solve our country’s racial problems. I only know one thing. As Americans, it is our obligation to say that we have to protect our citizens from dying. This means that police policies in urban settings need to change. Our war veterans need mental help when they return from war with PTSD. Americans need to understand how race impacts the lives of their fellow citizens. People across the world need to recognize that we are on earth together. There are no winners when violence is involved.
I would like to thank my various Voxer and Twitter groups for allowing me to vent my frustrations and fears over the past days. The world seems to be going wild and social media has played an important role in keeping things in perspective. I have developed relationships with a diverse group of people with different skin tones and religions that have helped me get a global perspective as well allow me to vent. This week social media helped me. I literally cried tears of empathy, anger, and frustration. It is through these deep and emotional conversations that I was able to rebalance my emotions and not let fear and anger overtake my world.
Q1: How did you follow the events of this past week?
Q2: How did the events of the past week effect you?
Q3: How will the events of the week effect your students?
Q4: What are your thoughts on the robot bomb?
Q5: How did social media aid you in processing the events of this week?