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Betty Shelby and the unacceptable precedent of letting officers go

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Precedent: An earlier event that is considered to be an example or guide in similar circumstances that may follow.

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Last night, it was announced that Betty Shelby, a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year in Oklahoma, had been found not guilty in first-degree manslaughter, thus continuing what seems to be a growing trend of police shootings of unarmed black men across the United States in recent years.

The trend of white men inexplicably killing black men is nothing new in America. As most know, it’s something that dates back to the foundation of this country. Albeit, in recent years, it’s been brought to the attention of the mainstream, thanks to the rise of cell phones and social media. However, one thing that has not changed, is the justice system and its undying precedent of letting those murderers go free.

The family of Terence Crutcher spoke out after the verdict was released.

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“Terence’s hands were up. Terence was not an imminent threat. Terence did not attack her. Terence didn’t charge at her. Terence was not the aggressor, ” his sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said.

If you’ve watched the video of the fatal shooting, then you already know that Terence himself was not a threat. It was the color of his skin that was the threat. As a black man who has been personally affected by the overuse of police force, I am well aware of the abuse of power that can sometimes come with the badge. However, when the courts continuously fail to hold the enforcement accountable for their unconscionable actions, it reinforces the fact that black lives do not matter in America.

What’s worse, is that we now have Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has made it his business to put African American men back behind bars.

I recently read a piece from a young man who spoke of visiting Germany and how he couldn’t help but feel remorse over the Holocaust. He spoke about how Germany made it very clear that they were ashamed of what happened during that horrible time. He knew that the Holocaust is not a place in time that Germany ever wants to return to, and they make sure that everyone knows it.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for America. We had a holocaust on our own territory for over 400 years: slavery. Families were ripped apart; women were physically, emotionally, and sexually abused; and men were bred like dogs, only the strongest and toughest allowed to mate, sometimes with their own family members.

Thankfully, we’re not quite there anymore; however, the resounding fear among African Americans in this country is that some people are not afraid to go back there. When our courts consistently belittle the lives of black men and women across this country, they send a message that our lives are worthless. They send a message that we don’t belong here. It’s as if they’re completely content with us going back into the field and tending to their families like servants — and that is not okay.

The time has come to hold one accountable for their actions. We preach that no one is above the law; however, time and time again, we see officers walk free, only confessing that they felt as if they were in danger when video footage directly contradicts them each time. We must stop this. We must make a new example of each and every officer who swears to protect and serve, yet only ends up serving a bullet to an innocent person, with a family at home.

 

Ty Lorenzo