We’ve all seen the video by now. On September 16th, 2016, an unarmed, 40-year-old black man, Terence Crutcher, was shot and killed by Tulsa PD after his car broke down in the middle of the street. According to Betty Shelby, the officer that shot Crutcher, he was uncooperative and would not show her his hands, however, dash-cam footage from the police vehicle behind Crutcher’s SUV ― as well as an aerial view from a police helicopter ― would prove otherwise. Terence Crutcher had his hands up in the air.
Two days later, a series of bombs were planted in New Jersey and New York, with one explosion injuring 29 people. The suspect, 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahmani was quickly identified, and after a shootout with police, and one officer being saved only by his bulletproof vest, Rahmani was arrested and taken into custody.
A man who is a suspect of terrorism against American civilians, and who attempted to murder police officers, is alive today while an unarmed man who had committed no crime at all is in a morgue awaiting an autopsy. One cannot ignore the fact that a terrorist will get his day in court, while an innocent man is dead all because he “looked like a bad dude,” in the words of the Tulsa police officers flying overhead.
Why is there opposition to those who protest police brutality?
This summer alone, we all bore witness to the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, and we saw the dismissal of charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man that died as a result of injuries received during his arrest and transport by the Baltimore PD.
As racial tension rises, and frustration intensifies, several professional athletes, notably Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, began a silent protest in which they chose to sit or take a knee during the National Anthem, which precedes each NFL game. Kaepernick was quoted as saying:
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
This protest was seen as highly controversial, with Kaepernick being accused of disrespecting the country. He was met with racial slurs, met with suggestions that he “go back to Africa,” and with others wondering why he cares about black oppression since he was adopted by a white family and hadn’t experience oppression firsthand, thus confirming what is known as “white privilege.”
Anytime a public figure speaks out against police brutality, police unions and conservatives view that as being anti-police, which is somehow also anti-American. On February 6th 2016, Beyoncé and her dancers performed at Super Bowl 50, vaguely dressed at Black Panthers. The day prior, she released the music video for her single “Formation”, which includes images of the singer in front of a line of police in riot gear, and the plea to “stop shooting us” spray-painted onto a wall ,with the video ending with Beyoncé sinking into a body of water while on the top of a New Orleans PD police cruiser. Following the video’s release and the the Super Bowl performance, Beyoncé was called a racist, a race-baiter, un-American, and police unions suggested she be boycotted and that she no longer receives police escorts nor security during her concerts.
Kaepernick, who is currently a backup quarterback for the 49ers, faces being released or traded; an NFL executive was quoted telling Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman “I don’t want him anywhere near my team... he’s a traitor.”
Why is there opposition to those who protest police brutality? Opposition to the brutalization and murder of citizens by police, means that they must be proponents of such actions. How is protesting government sanctioned executions, somehow anti-American? Does this mean killing black people with no consequences, is the American way? A U.S. history book would have you believe so.
If this is what the flag stands for, then no, I will never stand for it. I cannot, and will not stand ― the fact that Ahmad Rahmani, Dylann Roof, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and James Holmes are standing today and Terence Crutcher, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner are not, is the reason.