Do the names Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown sound familiar? That’s because they were just three of the hundreds of African-Americans killed as a result of police brutality in the past few years. At least 136 black people have been shot by police in 2016 alone! This is becoming a regular occurrence. Innocents being shot by those who are supposed to protect them has become a normality. How did this happen? How did America become a place where police officers are just allowed to kill due to their own racist thoughts? It’s horrific that when another person who’s done nothing wrong is murdered in the name of our country, by our police men. A thought that inevitably pops into our head is: Who’s next? And we were shown who was next just two weeks ago.
One Wednesday night, in Minnesota, a man named Philando Castile was driving in his car with his fiancé, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter. When they were pulled over by a cop for a broken taillight. Castile notified the officer that he was armed and had a concealed carry permit, and as he was pulling out his license and registration, the cop shot him in the arm. Four times. As her boyfriend lay there bleeding, Reynolds began to film, telling her account of the story. When she realized her boyfriend was dead, Reynolds began to panic.
“Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said. “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.” It was later confirmed that her fiancé, a week and a half short of 33, had been shot dead by a police officer.
A day earlier, in Louisiana, a father of five by the name of Alton Sterling succumbed to a similar fate. Outside of a Baton Rouge convenience store, Sterling was shot dead by two police officers. A source notified CNN that Sterling had been selling CDs, when a homeless man had asked for money. Sterling refused, but when the man continued pestering him, Sterling pulled out a gun. The homeless man then proceeded to call 911, bringing in the 2 police officers. A grainy cellphone photo of the scene depicts the two cops on top of Sterling, effectively immobilizing him, pointing a gun at his chest. That was when they shot him.
These deaths were harrowing, causing people to flood the streets at the injustice. 240 years ago, our ancestors fought for freedom. They didn’t intend to include other ethnicities into the mix, but over time people began to fight for human rights. Throughout America’s history, our main goal has been equality. Whether for the colonies, slaves, or women, we have always wanted equal rights. Now, we finally have a country where it would seem that each person gets the same rights as the next, regardless of differences they can’t control. And yet, why are these deaths still occurring? When will the racism end?
– Written by Katie Jain (redefy journalism team member)