Too many times the criminal justice system tells black people their lives do not matter. That’s why Ferguson was not alone in its demonstrations Monday night. We’ve seen the not so subtle, dehumanizing reminders play out so many times this year alone — reminders that the rules don’t apply to people of color and whites in quite the same way.
Back in August, for example, KDVR-TV reported 18-year-old Steve Lohner walked the streets of Aurora, Colorado — the scene of the horrific 2012 movie theater shootings — with a loaded shotgun around his shoulder. Though Colorado is an open carry state, the 911 calls poured in. Police arrived and calmly asked the teen for his ID. He refused, saying he was carrying the gun “for the defense of myself and those around me.”
On the video the teen captured during the confrontation, an officer speaks to him with his hands down, tucked in his belt — and not on his gun. Do you honestly believe a black teenager would have the same experience? Especially when you consider that same month, in Ohio — also an open carry state — a 911 call was made about a man with a gun in Walmart. Store surveillance video shows John Crawford III picking up a pellet gun in the toy department before stopping by the pet supplies aisle. He was on the phone with the mother of his two children. Within seconds of police entering the store he was shot, according to news reports.
We still have a race problem in this country. And too many of us work harder at denying race has anything to do with the world we live in today than listening and empathizing with those who are hurting. But tell me, at what point will the kinds of killings that we are seeing time after time after time across this country be described as what they are?