Afterward the Lord asked Cain, "Where is your brother? Where is Abel?"
"I don't know," Cain responded, "Am I my brother's guardian?" - Genesis 4:9
I believe God is posing that question of us today. What will our answer be? Will we shrug our shoulders and respond as Cain did so briskly? While this post focuses on the impact of police brutality and racism against African Americans, this message is just as poignant and far reaching to all people in this world. This is about humanity.
Please note that I know we have amazing Police Officers serving on our behalf who risk their lives day in and day out. This post does not ignore their efforts but we must pay attention to a chronic problem occurring in our nation today. Furthermore, I am an advocate for properly arresting citizens if there is just cause. As Bishop T.D. Jakes recently suggested, no one should be accused, tried, convicted, and killed in the street. For those who argue that some of these victims committed crimes or resisted arrest, there are too many examples of Police Officers who have successfully arrested such individuals without killing them (e.g Dylan Roof, who was taken to Burger King after he was apprehended for killing nine (9) people during their bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.).
In addition, it gravely misses the point to try to justify the murder of these individuals by pointing out perceived character flaws, or previous bad decisions. I don' t know how many times I have heard someone say, "The autopsy shows that he did have meth (substitute any illegal substance) in his system at the time," or, "There are photos of him smoking weed the week prior." There is nothing anyone can point out that warrants a death sentence.
It is difficult for me to swallow the narrative that the racial tension was ignited by the brutal murder of George Floyd. In all actuality the unrest has been brewing for decades. Now that there is national attention on this issue, I invite you to take some time reviewing the names and stories below. I have only included a small amount but will be sharing more in weeks to come. The amount of African Americans who have been killed is actually overwhelming and each post can only include so much. As you read, if you think of more names I can include on this list please comment below. Also feel free to do your own research. The more information we can share the closer we get to honesty, acknowledgement and hopefully changed hearts, minds and perspectives.
Before you read. Do click on the following links to watch how a police officers appropriately arrest assailants without killing them. I pray it gives a context to this issue.
I hope these videos gives a context of the equality being requested.
(Disclaimer: I traced the images below from photographs. I do not own the rights to the photographs. I am an artist under the name Flash of Grace and I trace images as a part of my artwork. Also excuse any typos or grammatical errors. I am catching them as I go. Thank you for reading!).
Where is Rayshard Brooks?
On the evening of June 12, 2020, Rayshard Brooks, an American 27-year-old black man, was shot and killed by one of several Atlanta Police Department officers investigating a report of a man asleep in a car. The police were called to the scene on Friday night because Mr. Brooks had fallen asleep in his car on the restaurant’s drive-through line. Mr. Brooks was awakened and given a sobriety test, which he failed. After two police officers had been on the scene for 27 minutes, much of that time talking with Mr. Brooks, one of the officers, Garrett Rolfe, attempted to handcuff him, leading to a struggle. The officers tried to stun Mr. Brooks with Tasers, and Mr. Brooks grabbed one of their Tasers and ran away, with Officer Rolfe in pursuit. Mr. Brooks turned at one point to fire the Taser back in Officer Rolfe’s direction; Officer Rolfe then pulled out his handgun and fired at Mr. Brooks three times as he was running away (Source: New York Times).
Where is George Floyd? Mr. Floyd was suspected of using counterfeit money at a local business. Officers stopped him and the situation soon turned to murder. Video of the incident shows Police Officer Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as several other officers watched passively, without intervening, despite Floyd's cries of "I can't breathe."Floyd appears unresponsive for the last 2 minutes and 53 seconds of the footage. Floyd died on the scene. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner released a new autopsy report Monday, ruling George Floyd's death was a homicide. The office said Floyd's heart and lungs stopped functioning "while being restrained" by law enforcement officers (Source: NPR).
Where is Ahmaud Arbery? In the afternoon on 23 February, 2020, Mr Arbery was out for a jog in the coastal city of Brunswick. At one point, he entered the Satilla Shores neighborhood. A neighbourhood resident, Gregory McMichael, told police he believed Mr Arbery resembled the suspect in a series of local break-ins. Police have said no reports were filed regarding these alleged break-ins. Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, armed themselves with a pistol and a shotgun and pursued Mr. Arbery in a pickup truck through the neighbourhood. According to the elder Mr. McMichael, he and his son had said "stop, stop, we want to talk to you". He said Mr Arbery then attacked his son. Lawyers for Mr. Arbery's family have said the 25-year-old was unarmed. Three shots were fired and Mr. Arbery fell down on the street. (Source: BBC News)
Where is Breonna Taylor? Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT), was shot eight times when officers entered her apartment in Louisville on 13 March. They were executing a search warrant as part of a drugs investigation, but no drugs were found in the property. The lawsuit accuses the officers of wrongful death and excessive force. It was filed by Ms Taylor's family last month and says the officers were not looking for her or her partner - but for an unrelated suspect who was already in custody and did not live in the apartment complex. On Thursday, Louisville's city council voted unanimously, 26-0, in favour of banning the controversial no-knock warrants in Breonna's name (Source: BBC News).
Where is Dreasjon "Sean" Reed? Dreasjon “Sean” Reed was shot and killed by Indianapolis police on May 6, 2020, in an incident that was captured on Reed’s Facebook Live. The 21-year-old Reed was involved in a police pursuit in the northwest of the city, when he parked his car near 62nd and Michigan and began to run. According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), the officer in pursuit tried to tase Reed and then shot him. Reed was pronounced dead at the scene. The live stream continues and it’s possible to hear someone, who is presumably an officer, say: “Oh he actually got one off?” and another presumed officer says, “looks like it’s gonna be a closed casket homie.” The video continues for a few moments until an officer approaches and turns it off (Source: Heavy.com).
Where is Atatiana Jefferson? On body camera footage of the incident, which shows Dean going into Jefferson's backyard, he cannot be heard identifying himself as a police officer. Police said Dean drew his gun after "perceiving a threat" although there was no sign he or the other responding officer knocked on the front door or announced their presence in the backyard. He fired through the window when Jefferson, who had been playing video games with her nephew, looked out after hearing noises. Aaron Dean, 35, faces a murder charge after police said he shot Atatiana Jefferson, 28, through the back window of her home around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 12 after responding to a call about an open front door (Source: USA Today).
Where is Botham Jean? On September 6, 2018, Botham Jean, an accountant at the international auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, is in his apartment eating ice cream when Guyger, who has just capped off a 13 1/2-hour shift as a Dallas police officer by helping a SWAT team arrest three suspected robbers, enters through his unlocked door and fatally shoots him in the chest after mistaking him for a burglar. Moments after the shooting, Guyger realizes she is in the wrong apartment. She is later convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison (Source: ABC News).
Where is Antwon Rose Jr.? Authorities said 17-year-old Antwon Rose was shot after bolting from a car during a June 2018 traffic stop. Ex-officer Michael Rosfeld, who said he thought Rose or another suspect had a gun pointed at him, was acquitted of homicide in March. Rose was unarmed but had a gun clip in his pocket. Protests followed both shooting and verdict. The federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the family of Antwon Rose has been settled for $2 million, a newspaper reported. (Source: Associated Press News)
Where is Mike Brown? Darren Wilson, who was in a patrol vehicle, initially stopped Brown for jaywalking, because he and a friend were walking in the middle of Canfield Drive, a quiet street located off busy West Florissant Avenue. Brown was not armed. Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, and police officials agree that Wilson got out of the car and that he and Brown had a physical struggle, although which of them started it is at issue. Police say that when Wilson got out of his SUV, Brown tried to shove him back into the vehicle and reached for the officer’s gun, prompting the first shots. Johnson said that after telling the teens to get on the sidewalk, Wilson started to drive away, then reversed his vehicle and struck Brown with the SUV’s door. He said the officer then got out of the car, struggled with Brown and began to shoot. Brown was shot at least 6 times and died in the street. His body laid in the street for hours after the incident (Sources: LA Times; New York Times).
Where is Trayvon Martin? Martin, a 17-year-old African American, was returning from a convenience store when he was noticed by Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer of German and Peruvian ancestry. Zimmerman contacted the non-emergency line of the Sanford Police Department, mentioned that there had been burglaries in the neighborhood, and told the dispatcher that he had observed “a real suspicious guy” who was “walking around, looking about.” Zimmerman also described Martin as someone “up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.” The dispatcher communicated to Zimmerman that the police did not need him to follow Martin, but Zimmerman, nevertheless, left his vehicle. He later said he had done so in order to ascertain his location by taking a closer look at a street sign. A violent confrontation ensued, and Zimmerman fired his weapon at Martin at close range, causing Martin’s death (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica).
Where is Tamir Rice? It began with a swap: one boy’s cellphone for another’s replica of a Colt pistol.
One of the boys went to play in a nearby park, striking poses with the lifelike, airsoft-style gun, which fired plastic pellets. He threw a snowball, settled down at a picnic table and flopped his head onto his arms in a perfect assertion of preteen ennui, a grainy security video shows.
Then, with the gun tucked away, he walked to the edge of the gazebo. He might have been wandering aimlessly, or he might have been attracted by the sight of a squad car barreling across the lawn.
Seconds later, the boy lay dying from a police officer’s bullet. “Shots fired, male down,” one of the officers in the car called across his radio. “Black male, maybe 20, black revolver, black handgun by him. Send E.M.S. this way, and a roadblock.” But the boy, Tamir Rice, was only 12 (Source: New York Times).
Where is Sandra Bland? In just three days, Sandra Bland went from detained to deceased.On July 10, 2015, the 28-year-old was arrested during a traffic stop for assaulting a public servant. That following Monday, Bland was found dead in her Waller County, Texas, cell. The Harris County medical examiner ruled her death a suicide by hanging -- a finding her family is fighting. Several years later new video sparked more questions.
Trooper Encinia initially stopped her near the campus of Prairie View A&M University – her alma mater – for failing to signal a lane change.
“Get out of the car! I will light you up. Get out!’’ he yells when Bland doesn’t comply, pulling out his Taser and pointing it at her.
After Bland comes out of the car, the heated exchange continues, with her wondering aloud why a failure to signal would yield such a harsh response. He then tells Bland to get off the phone.
“I’m not on the phone,’’ she responds. “I have a right to record. This is my property.’’
The recording ends when she follows his command to put the phone down. The newly release video contradicts the troopers story that he felt in fear for his life while attempting to detain Bland. (Source: USA Today).
Where is Eric Garner? On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner dies in a confrontation with Officer Pantaleo after the officer placed him in what appeared to be a chokehold. Police had suspected Garner of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street on New York City’s Staten Island. The confrontation is caught on amateur video, including Garner’s words “I can’t breathe,” which become a rallying cry among protesters. The city medical examiner’s office rules Garner’s death a homicide caused by neck compressions from a chokehold. (Source: USA Today).
Where is Jordan Edwards? On the night of 29 April 2017, police responded to reports of underage drinking at a house party in the suburb Balch Springs. Officers were inside the home trying to find the owner when they heard outside what they believed to be gunshots, causing panic at the home as people fled.
According to police documents, Oliver's partner, Tyler Gross, attempted to stop a car full of teenagers leaving the party. He walked up to the passenger door of the car and punched the window, breaking it. Oliver then fired several times into the car - shooting Jordan, who was in the front passenger seat, in the back of the head. Oliver said he believed the car was reversing "aggressively" towards his partner. However, bodycam footage showed that the car was actually driving away from police when the shots were fired (Source: BBC News).
Where is Sean Bell? The shooting took place after a stag party at a strip club in Queens, a few hours before Sean Bell, 23, was due to marry the mother of his two small daughters. He was struck in the neck and arm and was dead on arrival at hospital. The police claim to have overheard one of three men mention a gun, but no weapon was found. The officers on the scene fired a total of 50 bullets, but fewer than half hit the intended target, a car carrying the three men, despite being fired at close range. The rest sprayed nearby cars and buildings, as local residents leapt out of bed and huddled on the floor. One of the stray bullets shattered a window at a train station in the neighborhood, injuring two transport police officers with flying glass. (Source: The Guardian)
Where is Philando Castile? July 2016. Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July, and the aftermath was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend. Mr Yanez says he feared for his life and Mr Castile did not follow orders. The 29-year-old police officer was found not guilty on charges of second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon for endangering the safety of Mr Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter, who were both in the car at the time.
He has since been fired from the police force.
The dashcam footage from Mr Yanez's patrol car, released by Ramsey County on Tuesday night, appeared to show a routine traffic stop. Mr Yanez was seen approaching Mr Castile's white sedan while another officer stood near the passenger's side.
He told Mr Castile he pulled him over because a brake light was out before he asked for his driver's licence and insurance.
Mr Castile handed him a piece of paper and said: "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me."
"OK. Don't reach for it, then," Mr Yanez is heard saying while appearing to reach for his own weapon. "Don't pull it out."
Mr Yanez again repeated "don't pull it out" in a loud voice as he drew his own gun and fired inside the car multiple times. The officer ordered Ms Reynolds, who is heard screaming, not to move and began shouting expletives. After the shooting, the second officer escorted Ms Reynolds' daughter from the backseat of the vehicle. Ms Reynolds is heard explaining that her boyfriend was reaching for his ID, to which Mr Yanez replied: "I told him not to reach for it." The officer called for emergency responders and later is heard saying: "I don't know where the gun was." (Source: BBC News).
Where is Emantic Bradford Jr.?Hoover police mistakenly believed Bradford, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and was armed the night he was shot, was the suspect who opened fire in the mall, wounding an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl.
Following the shooting, Hoover's mayor and police chief apologized to Bradford's family for identifying Bradford as the gunman who opened fire.
The officer who shot Bradford and his partner were on-duty at the mall and heard the gunfire erupt some 75 feet away from them, according to Marshall's report.
The two officers, according to the report, raced toward the gunfire and spotted Bradford who "held a firearm in a ready position." (Source: ABC News).
Where is Alton Sterling? On July 5, 2016, Police were called after reports of a man threatening people with a gun outside a shop.
Mobile video footage appeared to show two officers wrestling a man in a red shirt to the floor.
One of the officers pinned the man's arm to the floor with his knee and then appeared to pull out his gun and point it at the man.
A voice is heard shouting: "He's got a gun!" Shots ring out and the camera moves away. Mr Sterling, a father of five, died at the scene (Source: BBC News)
Christine Houston is a believer, wife, and mother of two amazing children. Writing has always been a form of expression where she feels at home. Now she is getting to integrate her faith and her love of history to bring a new spin to the current climate of our nation with the hope to bring understanding and bridge the gap created by racial divides