Our friends and neighbors are not safe.
This last weekend, police in Wolfe City, TX murdered Jonathan Price, another unarmed Black man. Another. There is a Black state of emergency in Texas and all over America, as Black and brown bodies are being unjustifiably killed by our government, by police officers. This has been going on forever and is why millions are marching in the streets in 2020. We’re all tired.
In October 2019 McKinney Councilman La’Shadion Shemwell wrote a proclamation regarding the Black State of Emergency in Texas. Unfortunately, he received a huge backlash from his mostly white town, which included the efforts now to recall him. However, his Black State of Emergency in Texas was appropriate. It was appropriate in 2019 and it’s appropriate now.
The only difference between then and now is millions of Americans have woke up to the injustice and inequality that Black people are still suffering from.
What does the Black State of Emergency in Texas say?
Whereas the State of Texas and it’s local governments have demonstrated a pattern and practice of discriminatory and bias conduct by and through its law enforcement officers and officials which deprive Black and brown citizens of rights protected under the Constitution of laws of the United States. (42 U.S.C. § 1983. 34 U.S.C. §12601)
Councilman Shemwell wrote this after the murders of Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson. Since October 2019, police in Texas have killed 172 people. Of those 172 people, 42 of them were unarmed. Of those 172 people, 22 were killed while fleeing.
39 of the 172 people killed by police between October 2019 and October 2020 were Black, 50 were Hispanic, 23 were of unknown race, 5 were Asian, and 54 were white.
Were any of them justified? According to police, they are all justified, and all they have to say is, “I feared for my life.” According to the Constitution, however, most of them were not justified.
Of those 172 police killings over the last year, 8 officers were charged, only 1 was convicted. That conviction was in the murder of Russell Rios from Conroe, TX, who police shot in the back. The cop who took this young man’s life was sentenced to 5 years probation.
The part which causes so much controversy for Councilman Shemwell.
Whereas the State of Texas and it’s local governments have declared war on Black and brown citizens by conspiring to kill, injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate and wilfully deprive citizens of their Constitutional rights while acting under the color of law. (42 U.S.C. § 1983. 18 U.S.C. §241 – 242)
It was this one statement in Councilman Shemwell’s proclamation which got all of the “back the blue” Republican white folk in McKinney all worked up. They refused to believe or admit that the good police officers in McKinney along with local governments would conspire against Black and brown citizens. Herein lies the problem.
Is systematic racism a conspiracy to rob Black and brown Americans of their Constitutional rights? Yes. Is everyone aware of that? No.
The entire justice system and system of policing were built on a white supremacist structure. This is how it’s been for hundreds of years. However, in 2020, many people still struggle with understanding, the same way they struggle with understanding white privilege and white fragility.
America has had enough. Black and brown people, as well as their white allies, are tired of seeing unarmed Black and brown people murdered by officials of our government, without consequences.
Black lives matter.
This last weekend, after Jonathan Price was murdered in Wolfe City, hundreds of people have spoken out online about the incident and about the person that Jonathan was. He was well known and well-liked in this city with a population of just 1,400 people. Many white residents, knowing Jonathan’s character have taken to social media, calling it murder and demanding justice.
The type of person Jonathan was? He was in a convenience store and witnessed a domestic violence incident and went to the aide of the woman. He didn’t have to, but he wanted to help, in an age when most people would have just minded their own business.
The young white police officer showed up, tazed Jonathan, and then shot him three times.
That white police officer just pulled the trigger and stole a life. Jonathan had not committed a crime, he did not have a weapon, and he was posing no danger to the cop. Yet, he was killed. He was killed as if his life didn’t matter.
This is why we say BLACK LIVES MATTER.
We’ve been in a Black State of Emergency for 400 years.
It would be naive and dishonest to say that this Black State of Emergency has only happened since the murder of George Floyd or since Councilman La’Shadion Shemwell first made his proclamation. America has been in a Black State of Emergency since the day America was founded.
There has never been a time in American history that Black and brown Americans were safe from the brutality of white supremacy. When slavery was over, there were Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, then there was segregation, then the war on drugs, and now systematic racism.
The system isn’t broken, it’s working as intended. It was built to oppress and punish. America has the deadliest police culture in the modern world. Its victims have been disproportionately Black and justice in the US has been dispensed among racial lines. This is an American crisis.
America’s brand of militarized policing must end. American’s love of mass incarceration must end. Police brutality in America has to end. Qualified immunity has to end. America’s entire culture of white supremacy has to end. Until it does, Texas and all of America will remain in a Black State of Emergency.