What a sad week we had.
Too familiar - I was just writing about all of this - last July.
I don't remember when I heard the news of Alton Sterling's death. What I remember was my reaction. My first thought was, not this again. Then I caught myself. This is yet another tragic death in a long line and I should not be so dismissive. I had to find his name and make a note of it. I did not watch the video. I know I cannot watch such things. I cannot watch something which will take someone's life where I am helpless to do anything about it. I looked at the film still and listened to the commentary and reminded myself not to become desensitized to how often this happens. That each incident involves a life.
Thursday morning my alarm radio went off to the audio of the video taken of Philando Castile's murder. I was surprised at the calm tone of Diamond Reynolds' voice - and then jolted by the officer's screaming. As the facts were relayed to us sadness poured over me. Philando was described by a mother at the elementary school where he worked, as a Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks. They were pulled over because of a broken taillight. He had a permit to carry a gun, which he was in fact carrying. There was a four-year-old child in the car. Dismay becomes an understatement here. Profound sorrow that this keeps happening stayed with me all day. I returned home later than usual in the oppressive heat, and as I walked past my neighbors shop I saw he had put a sign in the window. It was scribbled with a black marker in such a way that the anger is unmistakable.
After dinner and spending more time listening to the commentary about these two deaths, I wanted to and needed to write here about the murders. I went outside and photographed my neighbors shop window. When I tried to access my camera card I found it was completely corrupted (see my last post). I accepted that little hiccup because I knew I would have all weekend to recover the images and still write my commentary. Perhaps it would give me some time to really consolidate my thoughts.
On Friday morning my radio went off with the announcer saying,
"Twelve police officers were shot .... "
I immediately thought of Bangladesh (two weeks ago) and as he was saying,
" ... leaving five dead..."
I thought... oh lord, what country did this happen in now?
"...in Dallas, Texas," he concluded.
MY COUNTRY!!! This is happening now in MY COUNTRY!??
This does not happen here. We do not attack our police force in the United States.
But why this horrible incident happened - I had no trouble understanding that. There is a clear correlation between the two police shooting deaths of black men to a black man attacking and killing police.
That does not make ANY of it okay.
I listened to the radio all day Friday and Saturday. I researched guests of various news programs, I read articles on Black Lives Matter. I have a million thoughts about where we currently find ourselves and why, and a million questions about how I fit in to all of this and what my role is. But I don't think I can write about all of it now. If you are wondering about where I probably stand on all of this - read my posts from July 2015. That should give you some idea.
While the events this week have been horrible, I have some hope. Finally, finally - people from all parts of society are talking about some of these issues, that certain parties have categorically denied, exist. We are talking about how this could happen and what some of the underlying causes could be - gun control maybe? Maybe this is finally the tipping point that will allow us all to begin a dialogue about this enormous problem.