He was 20. He was somebody’s child. He had his OWN child… a son who isn’t even two yet. A son who will now grow up without a father. Daunte’s family is devastated. Their community is devastated. Things will never be the same for any of them.
If you would like to support Daunte’s family as they navigate this tragedy, please check out their gofundme fundraiser linked above. Nothing will repair the damage that has been done to their lives and family, but this is at least one small thing we can do to support them.
One more Black life taken by a police officer. Another one. It keeps happening. This isn’t….it’s not getting better. What IS happening, is that it’s happening so often that we are almost becoming desensitized and that is deeply, deeply disturbing.
I spent three years teaching band fifteen minutes away from where Daunte graduated from High School. Had I not joined the military, I would still be there. I may not have taught Daunte, but this kid could have been any one of my students. That makes it more “personal” for me… but it doesn’t need to be personal for us to care. We should just CARE that people are being killed. We should care. We should.
There are people who will read this who won’t share that mindset with me and there’s probably not really anything I can do about that. There are, however, some other people who will read this and, instead of outright saying that they don’t care, they will justify and explain away this issue in some manner or another. These are the people I’d like to address. Because although I personally just wish everybody would care on their own because of being a human being… sometimes people need to be persuaded a little through evidence or discourse. And I would rather have that discourse and maybe influence one person to think even a tiny bit differently about all of this than not try. So…here we go.
The first thing that is often brought up are the “circumstances” or “details” of what happened. For example….some people might say something along the lines of “Well, he had a warrant out for his arrest” or “He was acting suspicious.” In that regard- I would like to put out a reminder-
We are entitled to due process and not being killed. That is, and always will be, a thing.
Another thing I hear a lot of or see online is a sort of…defensiveness. It looks like this: “White people are getting killed too and nobody is making a big deal about that!” or even “MORE white people are being killed by police than Black people, why aren’t we focusing on that?”
There’s a bit more to unpack here. First- Nobody is saying that it IS okay for police to shoot white people and NOT okay to shoot black people. Nobody is saying that. We want there to be less of police shooting and killing anybody, regardless of skin color.
The reason that we are talking about race in all of this is because there is clear evidence that a disproportionate number of people who are Black are being killed at the hands of police officers. The chart here shows a rough outline of our current racial demographics in America.
Based on this, 59.7% of people killed by police would be White and 12.5% would be Black. Yet, the actual number reflect only 46% of people killed by police being White and 25% of them being Black. This is more than double what would make sense based simply on how our population is divvied up.
At which point, another argument is usually brought up. It usually goes something like this- “I’m not trying to be racist or anything, but maybe that just means Black people do more crime or are more violent towards police officers than White people are.”
Even typing that made my stomach lurch, because of how uninformed that statement is. But apart from that, and apart from going into just how and why that statement is so awful (at least right now- maybe in another blog post…), I’ll stay on topic and keep going on to something that may generate some new thoughts for some people.
There is a database that has been compiled that contains records of every fatal shooting in the United states from 2015 – 2021. The database has been structured in a way that allows you to search for specific things. And while I personally do not believe that you need to be unarmed to not be killed by a police officer, I thought that people who ascribe to this line of thinking might value knowing the statistics on UNARMED people who were killed by police. So here’s what I found.
The data CONTINUES to support the correlation of a disproportionate use of lethal force against people who are Black. It’s there. It’s bad. It exists.
The final thing that I want to address is any sort of discussion around “not all police being bad”, how “defunding the police is not the answer!” and/or how “protesters and BLM are doing bad things too!” and here’s what I’ll say-
- No. Not all police officers are bad, not by a long shot. Many of them are incredibly kind and courageous people. We know that! I promise. The Black Lives Matter discussion is NOT a “Police Officers’ Lives DON’T Matter” discussion. It is a “How do we address this inequity and save Black lives?” discussion.
- Being a police officer is a choice. A person who chooses that profession knows that it comes with an inherent level of risk and they choose to do it anyway. That choice is often an honorable and courageous one, but it IS still a choice. Being Black is not a choice. A person’s appearance should not put them at a higher risk of being killed.
- “Defunding the police” is just one of the discussions being had on how to handle this issue of police brutality and accountability. If your biggest problem is the method of addressing it, there are more you can look into. Here’s a short video by Rashawn Ray, if you’re interested in hearing about some practical and potentially less “controversial” thoughts on the matter.
- I honestly hate when I see protestors and rioters throwing things at police officers, harassing them, or anything else like that. I hate it because I think that many police officers are wonderful people and don’t deserve to be treated that way. They’re also unique individuals who have identities and lives outside of being a cop. That said- protestors are hurting too or they wouldn’t be protesting. Buuuuut that’s another discussion for another time. Which is what I’m trying to get at….this is, again, just not…”on topic”. It’s a separate thing. You can believe the protestors are wrong AND that police brutality is wrong. The two thoughts aren’t mutually exclusive.
tl;dr (too long; didn’t read): Stay on Topic
Thank you for reading and/or sharing this with people you think might get something out of it. I don’t have incredibly high hopes that I will ever change anybody’s mind entirely about any of the issues that I write about. Equity is a journey. I screw up and learn and try to do better all the time. It’s not like flicking a light-switch and suddenly being completely different in your thoughts and beliefs. It’s more like a seed that is planted and then grows over time. All I really hope is that I can offer something to even one person to help that “seed” along. Stay safe, healthy, and happy everyone ❤