No person should have to die in their own home minding their own business at the hands of the police, yet for the second time this year in Texas, an unarmed black person has been killed in their own home, minding their own business, by a white police officer.
This time, it was 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson of Fort Worth. Her neighbor called the police for a welfare check in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 12 when he noticed that her front door was open.
According to Fort Worth police, officers arrived and also found the door open and the lights on, but did not see anyone inside. One officer went to the back yard and saw a figure through a window and “perceived a threat,” called out “put your hands up, show me your hands,” then fired a shot less than a second later. In less than a second, Atatiana Jefferson was lying dead in her own home.
That is frightening, maddening and alarming. I’m tired. I’m angry and I’m scared.
Transparency and Relevant Information
Fort Worth police released heavily edited body cam footage of the incident it said in an effort to provide “transparency and relevant information.” But by virtue of the fact that it was edited in the first place, the video is far less transparent than it could be, since the editing process alone would exclude information.
That is unacceptable and every single second of that film is relevant to determining why an unarmed black woman was perceived as such a threat in her own home that she was shot dead in less than one second.
At this stage, there’s no indication that the officers present ever identified themselves and Atatiana Jefferson certainly had no opportunity to identify herself in such a short period of time, nor was she asked to. She was commanded only to put her hands up and then was shot less than a second later.
It’s ironic that a neighbor called the police to assure her welfare and instead, they caused her death in her own home. When has that ever happened before? Why has it happened for the second time to a black person at home in Texas?
Is There Any Hope?
To be a black person in America is to live daily with the knowledge that your skin color will be automatically perceived as a threat to many white people, and it seems, particularly police officers. In fact, getting shot by the police is the leading cause of death for black men and boys in America and they are 2.5 times more likely to be killed in an encounter with police than are white men and boys. This is not hyperbole, but a fact.
At the same time, the last several years have seen an alarming rise in the death of unarmed black people during police encounters. This second Texas police killing of an unarmed black person in their home is the trauma-inducing, fear-evoking nightmare scenario that is feeding the post-traumatic stress disorder of the African American community as a whole.
It’s not paranoia, but reality that there’s no place safe in this country for black people if they are not safe in their own home. Minding their own business.
Respect Blue Lives, Yes. But when will Blue Lives respect black people? How long will white people remain indifferent to the killing of unarmed black people, especially in their homes?
There’s no single societal problem that is more damaging psychologically to blacks than racial injustice at the hands of police.
It has destroyed all semblance of trust between law enforcement and the community, is increasingly triggering trauma in black Americans and engenders a belief in blacks that nothing will change, especially because white Americans remain indifferent.
There’s no outrage among white America. There’s no justice.
Is there any hope?