Too Many Deaths

Photo by Life Matters on

Between mass shootings and black people being killed by police, you have to wonder why and what you can do about it.

Guns and the easy access to get them are just partially to blame. But what is most to blame is attitudes.

White supremacy, the selfishness of conservative Christians who are so far away from the teachings of the Christ they claim to follow, people who hate and fear anyone or anything that they don’t understand, angry misogynist young men who blame women for all of their problems and buy guns that are suppose to show their manliness, as well as those who are isolated, lonely, depressed and trying to cope with a mental illness. That doesn’t mean that everyone who kills someone else has a mental illness or everyone who a mental illness will kill someone. But when you combine several of these problems, it creates a perfect storm of anger and blame and the need to make someone else pay for the lack in their life.

There have been so many deaths lately, it’s becoming easy to see a pattern emerge. In most cases, this seems to be the big picture; those being killed by police (mostly white officers) are mostly young black men; most of the mass shootings are caused by young white men. One common denominator is age… you, second is male, and third is hatred.

All of the characteristics that I listed are learned behaviors, so they can be unlearned and can learn compassion and caring. We need to start now. Teaching young children empathy is a good start—sensitivity training for all adults at their places of employment. Gun control is essential. Learning history and how things were handled in the past, especially what the 2nd Amendment says and why. Police department reform and reminding police officers that they took an oath of “serve and protect” and not drill sergeants. Like politicians and medical personal, they are servants of the people, not our masters.


Adam Toledo

Daunte Wright

Rayshaard Brooks

Daniel Prude

George Floyd

Eight people in Indianapolis, IN

Four people in Orange, CA, including a 9-year-old boy

Ten people in Boulder, CA

Four people in Indianapolis, IN, including a 7-year-old child

Five people in Indianapolis, IN, including a woman who was pregnant

Seven people in Evanston, Ill

And all of this was just in the first four months of 2021. It doesn’t including the gunshot deaths that didn’t make the news.

Six people developed blood clots from the Johnson and Johnson’s Covid 19 vaccine, and they shut it down.

Thirty-eight people die from guns, and everyone looks the other way.

It should not be this way. “I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson). After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor).” These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”— David Gray

“Bodycam Footage Contradicts Chicago Police Narratives About Adam Toledo’s Shooting

The city of Chicago released bodycam footage of 13-year-old Adam Toledo’s March 29 shooting in which the officer immediately shoots him after the boy puts his hands up. The officer, Eric Stillman, shot Adam less than 20 seconds after the officer got out of his car.

Again, the boy had his hands up, per the cop’s request, and was shot anyway.

Toledo’s family watched the video Tuesday night and asked that it not be immediately released.

Protests have already been taken place around the city in anticipation of the Derek Chauvin trial verdict and the recent police shooting of Daunte Wright, both killings that took place in the Twin Cities region in Minnesota. Soon after the bodycam footage of Adam’s shooting was released, those protests rallied around the teenager.

Early on, city officials gave inconsistent statements on what happened the night Adam was killed in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.”

Body Camera Video Shows 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Put His Hands Up as He Was Shot by Chicago Police.

“Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, had his hands raised when Chicago police fatally shot him last month, according to an officer-worn body camera video of the incident released Thursday.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, speaking at a televised news conference ahead of the video’s release, described watching it as “excruciating.” She said “there’s no evidence whatsoever” the teen fired at officers before he was fatally shot in the early hours of March 29 while being pursued by an officer in the city’s predominantly Latino Little Village neighborhood.

“Simply put, we failed Adam,” she said.

The incident, which provoked protests across the city, once again pushed police violence nationally to the forefront, as jurors in Minneapolis hear a murder case against a former officer for the death of George Floyd while, improbably, the police shooting of another man, Daunte Wright, on Sunday in a Minneapolis suburb led this week to a manslaughter charge.

The images described by the mayor were included among 17 body-worn camera videos from involved and responding officers, along with four third-party videos and two 911 recordings, released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an independent agency that investigates encounters with police.

The history that went into killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo

Adam Toledo, 13, is one of about 1,000 people every year who are killed by police officers. Video of the incident was released reluctantly Thursday by the Chicago Police Department. It shows a cop, who is white, shooting Toledo once in the chest after the Hispanic youngster obeyed his commands by dropping his gun and raising his hands. People are still arguing about whether Toledo’s death was justified. (It wasn’t.) There is no argument, however, about its place in the racist history of policing in America.

Of the 6,211 people killed by police since 2015, about 10 percent were unarmed. Over half were not attempting to flee. 

Black people, men as well as women, are killed at almost twice the rate of white people. Native Americans and Latino men also face a higher risk of being killed by police than white people. Alternatively, 295 officers were killed in the line of duty last year. The average death toll for police for the last six years was 190, making the public more in danger from police officers than police officers were in danger from the public.

While there has been increased interest in police brutality in the last decade, racist police violence and police brutality dates back to the inception of police forces in this country. The first modern organized force in the United States was the New York City Police Department in 1845 with New Orleans, Cincinnati, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore following soon after. Urban police forces were encouraged by nativist anti-immigrant concerns and capitalist desires to protect private property.

By 1860, the NYPD was deeply involved in partisan politics, corruption and ethnic resentments, even among Irish and German immigrants who had made inroads into the department. This corruption and politicization of policing and criminal punishment encouraged officers to mete out their own “curbside” justice in the form of beatings rather than arrests. Irish Protestants were more likely to support Republicans, leading to a violent police response to the Catholic Irish protests of Republican Irish parades in 1870-1871. Unfortunately, police brutality did not lessen after 1870 when the police department was once again controlled by Democrats. (Remember, at that time Republicans were the liberals and conservatives where the Democrats).

By 1865, the press started reporting on police brutality and complaints made by citizens. Between 1865 and 1894, the Times reported more than 270 cases. Three quarters of these involved an officer clubbing a suspect, usually unarmed, with a baton or nightstick. Wrongful shooting accounted for 7 percent of incidents. Almost 10 percent of victims died. While most police violence was committed against men, 20 percent was against women and 4 percent of reported incidents were sexual assault.

Police brutality was racialized even at the beginning of police force history. 

Police violence became more racialized after the turn of the century. Predominantly Irish police officers joined violent white crowds in attacking Black people, Jews and other immigrants in the early 20th century. Riots in 1900 and 1903 led to police violence against Black Americans in New York’s Tenderloin district and the city’s old San Juan Hill neighborhood’s, respectively. A virtual pogrom broke out during the Hoe Riot when Irish cops joined Irish workers on the Lower East Side in violence against a Jewish funeral march. This legal racist violence by police became a method of assimilation and whiteness for many Irish immigrants. Police forces continued to protect capitalist interests by committing violence as strikebreakers as well as serve nativist political concerns by enforcing increasingly racist immigration laws.

Before organized police departments in the North, some colonial governments appointed constables to protect the community from Native Americans. Some communities also created night watches or used the local militia to protect citizens from outside threats, not to police the behavior of citizens. Policing in the South developed to enforce the slave system and protect against slave rebellions rather than to provide public safety. The first slave patrol was formed in South Carolina in 1704, but soon spread throughout the colonies and lasted until the Civil War in Southern states. Slave patrols were meant to return runaway slaves, deter slave revolts and maintain some discipline among slaves who might violate plantation rules. Slave patrols supported a vigilante style of policing that continued after the Civil War. Vigilance committees formed in the West to police the frontier and were often sanctioned by governments. Slave patrols also contributed to Jim Crow and segregation policing that led to lynchings that went unchecked by governments.

Policing has violent racist origins in all parts of the United States. Rather than general public safety and law enforcement, police departments were created to enforce racial boundaries and the political concerns of white supremacy. Rather than tools of justice and peacekeeping, police forces have historically acted as state-sanctioned vigilantes or to support truly extralegal violence. Most of us think police were created to deal with rising crime and urbanization, but they always served the needs of the white elite to protect property with violence and enact their own racist animus. Government-sanctioned police brutality is embedded in our policing structures. You should know about this history. It’s what powered the bullet that flew into Adam Toledo’s chest.”

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