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Why Black Lives Matter Is Still Relevant

The views in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the views of Her Campus or Her Campus FSU.

Oscar Grant. Trayvon Martin. Malissa Williams. Eric Garner. Michael Brown Jr. Laquan McDonald. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Stephon Clark. All these people’s lives have been taken in the most tragic way. Black Lives Matter.

Oscar Grant

A 22-year-old African American man shot and killed on January 1, 2009. In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Oscar Grant had his life taken by Fruitvale BART Station Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. After being forcefully detained, pushed and made to lie face down on the platform, the officer shot him in the back as Grant was pleading for his life, explaining that he had a little girl that he just wanted to live for. 

Trayvon Martin

A 17-year-old African American teenager shot and killed on February 26, 2012. It was in the evening, Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman—worked for the local police department through the Twin Lakes Neighborhood Watch program, the local police department, Zimmerman was reporting to them. Claiming that he acted in “self-defense”, Trayvon Martin didn’t possess a weapon. Claiming that Trayvon attacked him, but yet he was the one that was following Martin for miles, but yet he was the one who felt “threaten”, so much to the point he decided to shoot a child in cold blood. Although Martin wasn’t killed by a police officer, he was killed by a white man who assumed he was dangerous based off of one look. Zimmerman was carrying a gun, which Neighborhood Watch don’t carry weapons. He had his weapon with one bullet ready to fire, without knowing whether or not Trayvon Martin posed as a threat. This has been the case for many of these cases where black men and women have been shot fatally, without justice being served.

Malissa Williams 

Two homeless African Americans, shot 137 times between the two, by 13 officers, on November 29, 2012. 

Eric Garner

While being put under arrest, in 15 to 19 seconds, Eric Garner was put in a chokehold by a New York City Police Department Officer and was killed. 

Michael Brown Jr. 

An 18-year-old African American teenager, fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri. He was shot at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson. Eyewitnesses saying that the officer attacked Brown.  

Laquan McDonald

A 17-year-old African American teenager shot and killed on October 20, 2014. He was fatally shot by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago, Illinois. McDonald was walking away from the police when the officer shot him in his neck, chest, back, both of his arms, right leg, and his left scalp. This 17-year-old innocent child was shot 16 times, 7 of those shots were fired when he was already lying on the ground. The stories from the police don’t add up to the autopsy or the eye-witness. Van Dyke’s fellow officers tried to cover up the shooting and were all charged for these accusations. Van Dyke has had a history of complaints brought against him during his career. Everything was held in the investigation, there were multiple dash cam video evidence, but the State Attorney and Chicago Police held onto all the information, until the last moment when they were forced with an eye-witness coming forward to turn over the material. Prior to this horrific shooting Jason Van Dyke was recommended on two separate occasions, but two different people that he should be fired. One of the main reasons for this was an incident in 2005 wherein a police shooting Van Dyke attempted to cover up the shooting, he wrote up a police report without speaking to his supervisor, witnesses, or anyone involving the shooting. Jason Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald with 16 shots and then tried to not only hide evidence but cry that he feared his life.

Tamir Rice

A 12-year-old boy, not a teenager or a man. A boy. In Cleveland, Ohio on November 22, 2014, Tamir was shot and killed. After receiving calls that the male that was holding the weapon was a juvenile and they belief the weapon was just a fake, Officer Timothy Loehmann still shot this little 12-year-old boy in the torso. It was revealed that Tamir was carrying an airsoft replica, a toy, not a firearm. Keep in mind that in Loehmann’s last job he was deemed emotionally unstable and was declared unfit for duty. This wasn’t disclosed when he saught out his application.

Sandra Bland

A 28-year-old African American woman who died in police custody, after a “rough ride”, on July 13, 2015.

Alton Sterling

A 37-year-old African American man, he was killed with a gunshot at the hands of the Baton Rouge Police Department. Two officers shot Sterling while they were already cuffing him, claiming that they perceived Sterling as a threat. Sterling was selling CDs, the officers tased him several times, forced him onto the hood of a car, then proceeded to force him to the ground. One of the officers had his knee on his chest, and the other one was on his thigh, but they were both cuffing him.  Sterling was shot a total of six times in the chest and back, at close range. 

Philando Castile

A 32-year-old African American man shot and killed in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Castile was killed by Officer Jeronimo Yanez on July 6, 2016, while he was in the car with his girlfriend and his 4-year-old daughter in the car. He was pulled over due to the officers profiling, they pulled the car over due to “the two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery”. The officer fired seven shots in quick succession, 5 of the shots fired actually hit Castile, and 2 of those shots pierced his heart. The daughter screaming saying to please stop screaming and cussing because she doesn’t want to her “to get shooted”.

Stephon Clark

A 22-year-old African American man shot and killed on March 18, 2018. Shot by two Sacramento Police Department in the evening. Clark was unarmed, he was only carrying his cell phone when the officers shot him in his grandmother’s backyard. Clark was shot 8 times, eight, six of those shots being fired into his back. The officers then muted their body cameras audio. The officers didn’t approach Clark to give him medical assistance until five minutes after the shooting. The officers narrative don’t match the autopsy report, and their original statements aren’t lining up to the statements they are making now. The autopsy reports contradict the officers, the officers said that Clark was charging towards the officers when they fired, but he was, in fact, shot six times in the back, proving he wasn’t charging towards them. The officers first said he posed a gun, changed up and said that he in fact possessed a crowbar, then said he posed a toolbar. That was all a lie…he possesed a white iPhone. Why else would officers shut off their body camera audio? Were they getting their stories straight? They shot an unarmed man, a black unarmed man, an innocent unarmed man. These officers killed an unarmed man and are trying to backtrack and justify why they’ve murdered a man in cold blood.

How is it that we have police officers that have been investigated multiple times, and accused many times before, but aren’t taken off the streets, instead they are just given the opportunity to shoot us dead in the street. An officer previously terminated from his prior policing job because he was deemed unfit and unstable, but yet he was hired after this incident by the Cleveland Police, how is that possible? In that case, these police departments might as well pick up random people off the street that just want to shoot, and not ask questions.

Is it fair that parents are having to give their young kids speeches at young ages, just to have some semblance that maybe their child will come back home to them? Is it fair that most of these parents have to pray all day because they don’t think their baby is going to make it home at night?

We shouldn’t have to fear our lives because of the color of our skin.

Huge disparities. It’s one thing for all the allegations to just be focused on 1 city, 1 state, or 1 region; that’s not the case though, multiple allegations have been brought in multiple cities, multiple states, or multiple regions. These allegations are mainly dealing with black Americans versus white officers. Cleveland has come on top as the city with the most excessive deadly force by any of the other cities. Officers are allowed to use deadly force under two circumstances “to protect their life or the life of another innocent party”, and the second circumstance being “to prevent a suspect from escaping, but only if the officer has possible probable cause to think the suspect poses a dangerous threat to others”. Officers are almost never prosecuted and convicted for their use of force, their shootings they are cleared even when evidence is heavy against them. Police are half as likely to be convicted and incarcerated as civilians. In the past recent years, the federal government has equipped the police with military grade equipment. Equipment being used to slaughter black Americans at the hands of officers. In recent years, encouragement has been brought for communities to participate in community policing and holding the police accountable—this is what led to Trayvon Martin’s death.

How many have to die before a change is made? How many?

Kamaria is a double major in English Literature & Communications. Kamaria has served two companies with their editing departments for blogging and journalism. She has been published in two literary magazines. When she’s not watching Netflix, traveling, reading, or writing; you can catch her watching and playing sports. Please email any praise, comments, tips, hate, or inquiries to kyi7777@gmail.com
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