There was no indictment in the shooting death of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. There was no indictment in the choking death of unarmed Black man Eric Garner by NYPD officer Dan Pantaleo.
Now, a Brooklyn Grand Jury is considering an indictment in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old Black man who died after being shot once in the chest by NYPD rookie officer Peter Liang, who is Asian American.
This above sentence is not partisan. It is not fantastic. It is not subjective. It is a factual description of the events in Ferguson over the last year.
Yet, this description — which reflects the general coverage of the Michael Brown shooting and its aftermath — seems to bother some within mainstream America. That’s because Michael Brown simply doesn’t fit neatly into one of the several pre-defined tropes available to Black men, or to people of colour, in general.
This description chafes because, to them, there’s no such thing as Black humanity.
I blogged earlier this year about the story of Kang Chun Wong, the 84 year old Chinese American man who was brutally beaten by New York City Police Department officers after he was stopped for an alleged incident of jaywalking. Wong, who speaks predominantly Cantonese and Spanish, was walking on the Upper West side when he was stopped by Officer Jeffry Loo at the intersection of 96th and Broadway.
According to the NY Daily News, Officer Loo asked for Wong’s identification, which Wong provided. However, when Loo began to walk away with the ID, Wong — not understanding what was happening — protested. That’s when Loo, along with several officers pushed Wong against the wall of a building and then slammed him to the ground, bloodying his head. Witnesses were horrified, capturing graphic pictures of Wong being handcuffed and taken away.
Wong was eventually charged with jaywalking, along with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, however the Manhattan district attorney’s office decided not to prosecute the case.
Now, Wong — through his attorney Sanford Rubenstein — is suing the city and the NYPD for $5 million dollars.
An unarmed teenager raises his hands above his head and pleads for his life. He is fatally gunned down by Ferguson police officers. He was 18.
An unarmed man is detained at San Francisco’s Fruitvale Station on New Year’s Eve. He is fatally shot in the back by San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit train police while lying face down on the ground and hands cuffed behind his back. He was 23.
An unarmed teenager walks home through an unfamiliar neighbourhood, an iced tea and a pack of Skittles in his pocket. He is fatally shot by a self-appointed vigilante. He was 17.
An unarmed teenager knocks on the door of a house, seeking help after a car accident. She is fatally shot in the face with a shotgun. She was 19.
An unarmed man reaches for his wallet. He is fatally shot 41 times by New York City police. He was 23.
These are only a handful of the lives cut far too short — the victims of American Blackness under siege.