I’m sure many of you have seen the news yesterday and today. Alton and Philando. Two preventable deaths. Two deaths that will further divide a country already at odds, filled with tension, hate and accusations.
I don’t talk much about me on here. Who I am. I grew up in Louisiana. I lived in Baton Rouge for a while during college. I’d just gotten out of an 3 year long abusive relationship and I wanted a new start and some distance. I decided to finish my degree online and move hours south to Baton Rouge. This was the year before Hurricane Katrina. It was the first time I’d ever lived in a big city. I liked having a mall with in a 10 minute drive. I liked having a Target. But it was easy to feel like a tiny little fish in a very big pond.
I don’t really go back often. Bad memories. I really wasn’t cut out to be a southern lady. I yearned for the beach life. I yearned for pink hair and acceptance and love. To me, the south was stifling for an open minded girl who really should have been a flower child. Racism was a mystery to me. To me, black people looked exactly like me. They had two eyes, a nose, a mouth and a heart just like mine. It was confusing that because I was white and southern, I was supposed to hate someone because of the color of their skin. I loved all my friends and their race didn’t matter to me.
It’s not shocking that when I do go back, it’s like I never left. The Walmart has been updated. They got a Wendys and a CVS and a Walgreens. And you still don’t go “across the tracks.” Cops still pull over black citizens before white ones.
So when I got online yesterday and saw Baton Rouge in the news, my heart sank. I knew this couldn’t be good. And it wasn’t. The first video of Alton’s death was grainy but clearly showed that within a span of less than a minute, he was slammed to the ground and then shot. The second video which was clearer, showed what happened clear as day.
I’m posting screen shots from the video so if you are sensitive to the nature of these, please close the browser window.
This is the moment Alton was shot from the first bullet. Please look at how close his head and shoulder were to the silver vehicle. You see the officer’s knee on his left arm and his hand on his chest. The second officer has his knee on Alton’s stomach/groin area. You hear an officer say he’s got a gun and then he’s shot. He wasn’t reaching for the gun.
This screen shot is seconds before the shots are fired. This is where they’ll say he reached for his gun. Alton raised his hand to push the officer’s hand away. They were on top of him, guns drawn to his chest. It’s an honest reflex to push someone away. Especially when two grown men are on top of you. If Alton were going to go for his gun, don’t you think he would have? But he didn’t. He simply pushed the officer’s hand away. And THAT’S when the officer shouted he had a gun.
Blurry but that’s closer up.
Even as Alton lay bleeding, he not once reached for his gun. Even after he was shot. Even after he had nothing left to lose but his life. That right there is a screen shot of Alton slowly losing consciousness and the officer having to tug to get the gun out of Alton’s pocket.
Draw your own conclusions. Watch the video. But watch it over and over. Watch each person and their every movement. Is this what we want for our country? For our citizens? For our children? I don’t know about you but my heart is simply broken for my friends who have to explain to their kids that they aren’t safe around the police anymore.
We MUST do better. We HAVE to do better.