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All Lives Can’t Matter, As Long as Black Lives Don’t Matter – The Struggle Continues By Sherry Cannon

It was 2 a.m. the morning of July 7, 2016 that I began writing this piece.   I had literally just watched a live streaming of a young black man, who was assassinated by a police officer in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota.   He was stopped by the officer because of a busted tail light on his car.  This was not an episode of NCIS or Chicago PD.  This is something that happened in an American city in the United States of America.

After the stop the young man, whose name is Philando Castile, advised the officer he had a firearm on him, which he was licensed to carry. This shooting happened less than 48 hours after the murder of Alton Sterling, by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA.

The passenger in the car, Diamond Reynolds was the young man’s girlfriend.  She had the presence of mind to begin live streaming on Facebook after the officer shot Philando four times.  The couple’s young child was also in the vehicle. She could be heard on the livestream trying to console her mommy.

I could hear the panic in the officer’s voice and knew that he was visibly shaken. He kept saying I told him not to reach for anything.  The young lady could be heard saying,” no sir you asked him for his license and when he reached for his wallet you shot him.”

The officer never attempted to render aid to the victim. He demanded that the young lady keep her hands in view, so she couldn’t do anything for her boyfriend. The other officers arriving on the scene never provide aid to Mr. Castile. Their first instinct was to give aid to their shaken colleague, who had no injuries.

These two murders, in two different cities, only a day apart has me shaken to my core.  The inordinate fear many police officers have for Black men, police who shoot first and ask questions later, is why at 2 am I’m unable to sleep. Sadly, statistics show that a Black person is killed every 30 hours by police in this country.

As a grandmother, sister, aunt and cousin of black and brown skinned men, I know any one of their lives can be taken in an instant, if they run into the wrong scared, trigger happy cop.    The truth of the matter is it not only white cops, but many white people who believe that the shooting of Black and Brown men is justifiable homicide. We live in a culture where Black Lives have less value than White lives.

We hear the NRA saying over and over again, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people; and the only way to stop bad people with guns from killing people is for good people to arm themselves with guns.”

What do we do when the people with the guns who are killing our sons and daughters are the people who take oaths to protect and serve us? From all accounts Philando Castile was a good person!

What do we do when white men and more horrific white policemen make themselves judge,  jury and executioner of our people for broken tail lights, for selling cigarettes, for walking with hoodies, for playing music too loud, for changing lanes without using a signal, for knocking on a door after a car accident … or reaching for a cell phone?

What do we tell our children when they leave our homes?  How do we protect them from people, who see them as less than?

When will the deaths of our loves be seen as a loss to this country?  How many young people gunned, down in the prime of their lives, took to their grave a new invention, a cure for a disease, a song never written, not to mention generations of children never to be born?

What is the answer or better yet what is the problem?  Is the over-saturation of guns the problem?  Is racism the problem?  Is the inability to get law enforcement convicted the problem?  Is the lack of psychological screening and/or training of qualified police officers the problem?

The late American author and professor of Boston University Isaac Asimov said, “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster, than society gathers wisdom.”  He went on to say, “If knowledge presents danger, the solution can’t be ignorance; it has to be wisdom. You cannot refuse to look at danger; rather you learn how to handle it safely.”

What have we learned from the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Amadou Diallo, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Kathryn Johnston, Rekia Boyd, Kimani Gray, Kenneth Chamberlain, Travares McGill, Laquan McDonald, Oscar Grant, Renisha McBride, or Walter Scott? I can go on and on naming someone’s son, daughter, father and even mother killed by the hands of white men/police officers simply because they could and would have no price to pay.

Where is the wisdom of continuing to handle these senseless murders in the same manner?  How long will the policemen continue to be put on paid administrative leave?  How long will the victim’s past be put on trial? How long will police unions continue to cover for bad cops and lawyer-up to cover up their crimes?  How long will local police departments continue to be allowed to investigate themselves?

Can all of our kids be thugs?  Are all of them reaching for a gun, giving cops a reason for shooting them? How many more parents will have to bury sons and daughters with no one ever being held responsible for their deaths?  How many more children have to be traumatized by the knowledge that their mom or dad is never coming home again?

Like many of you, I don’t know the answer;  But, I do know wisdom demands better.