No justice in this country

Susan K. Smith.2 18
Susan K. Smith

By SUSAN K. SMITH

Crazy Faith Ministries

 

When a grand jury refused to indict the police officer who shot and killed 13-year-old Tyre King in Columbus, Ohio, in 2016, the wail of his mother could he heard throughout the building.

King had been pursued by officers after someone said he had been involved in an armed robbery. Police chased the teen – who was running away from officers – and said he had a gun; when close enough, the offending officer shot the boy, killing him. The gun turned out to be a BB gun with an attached laser sight. It looked real, NBCNews.com reported.

His mother literally collapsed upon hearing the decision of the grand jury, and I have never forgotten her wail. I thought of it recently when 20-year-old Donovan Lewis was shot and killed in his home when police served a warrant for his arrest. Body cam showed that police, after letting two other people out of the apartment, opened the door to his bedroom where he had been sleeping, and as he got up, shot him once, killing him.

They said he had something in his hand; they supposed it was a gun, but it was not. It was a vape pen, CNN.com reported.

A reporter called me the day after Lewis’ shooting and asked my thoughts, and all I could say is, “I’m tired. This is not going to end.” We protest. We show up at city council meetings. We have rallies, but at the end of the day, the police culture’s history of shooting and killing Black people – specifically Black men – is not going to stop.

All they have say is “I was in fear for my life,” and their killing of unarmed Black people is ruled to be justifiable.

I am reminded of the words of Bishop Henry McNeil Turner, who decided that there was and would be no justice for Black people in this country. He called the condition of the United States, as concerned justice for Black people, “barbarous,” and said, “…the low order of civilization which controls its institutions were right and justice sit enthroned, I see nothing for the Negro to attain unto in this country,” Andre Johnson wrote in No Justice in this Country.

Johnson called the words of the bishop “prophetic pessimism.” Things were not going to change, he realized, and his pessimism seems not to have been misplaced. The police culture of this country was created – including the institutionalization of the gun culture – to keep enslaved Africans under control. A “well-defined militia” grew as the number of enslaved Africans increased and White landowners sought to do whatever they could to keep their cheap labor “in their place.”

Violence against Black people was codified and Americanized, while at the same time, laws were passed that prohibited Black people from owning guns or from defending themselves in any way.

The specific institution of enslavement ended, but the enslavement of White minds to the notion that Black people are criminals and deserve to be shot by police – or by anyone who says he or she is in fear for their lives. “The law” does not protect Black people, even when “the law” allows states to have open carry laws. Black people have been known to be shot in open carry states when they have been stopped and have explained to officers that they have a gun – legally. Just that statement has freed the fear that too many White officers have and given them to shoot and kill a Black person. Such was the case with Philando Castile in 2016.

In the case of Lewis, taxpayers will probably end up paying the amount of money that will be granted to his family; it’s the normal cycle of procedure in these cases. Meanwhile, the offending officer might get yelled at but will be back on the streets – with his gun. That’s the culture of this country.

This is not going to stop. There is no justice for Black people in this country.

 

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at revsuekim@sbcgloba.net.

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