Wake Up America!

By Terri Lee Freeman
Museum President

Something is drastically wrong in America.  It was earlier this summer when we thought we had seen the worst of the assaults on African-American men by police and the justice system.  But, in the words of Yogi Berra, "it's deja vu all over again."  Yesterday morning, September 20, we woke up to reports of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed African-American man, being shot and killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The helicopter pilot seemed to think that from his bird's eye view that "he looked like a bad dude too."  And last night Keith Lamont Scott was killed, another African American man, this time in Charlotte – an American city facing very tense community-police relations because of yet another fatal police shooting of an African American man. (News reports have varied regarding whether or not Mr. Scott was armed.) This is in stark opposition to the capture and live arrest of a man who planted bombs and injured at least 31 people in New York and New Jersey several days ago. Or, the capture and live arrest of Dylan Roof, the hate-monger and racist that killed 9 members of the Mother Emmanuel church in South Carolina a year ago!

Gathering data about police shootings is difficult at best, but the Washington Post has compiled a database of police shootings in 2015 as well as tracking of 2016 shootings. You can take a look at the data here https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/  Based on this database, the Cato Institute noted that although shootings of unarmed subjects is a fraction of police shootings, “Black men accounted for 40% of the 60 unarmed deaths even though they make up just 6% of the U.S. population.

How blind do you have to be to not see there is a real problem?!  Is there any wonder why the affirmative statement "Black Lives Matter" is so important?  Is there question why American citizens are challenging the National Anthem and the American flag to truly stand for freedom and justice for ALL?

America must come to terms with the reality of the double standard of justice in our country.  If we were waking up on consecutive mornings hearing that white men were being killed by police officers, what would be the response?  My guess is that the outrage and the call for action would be loud and swift.  Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised by the community uprisings.  We shouldn’t be surprised by the increasing protests.  We shouldn’t be surprised when daily life as we know it, is inconvenienced and challenged by those that simply believe that ALL American citizens deserve to live free.

Wake up America, we have a serious problem!

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