The gun has replaced the rope

Washington, D.C. - July 07 2016: Protestors march down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the United States Capitol Building after recent police involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

At first, it was the rope. Now, it’s the gun. Mass shootings have become an alternate way that is being used by white men to keep people of color in line and try to restore order back to the way it used to be. If you think I’m lying, try naming the most notable mass shooting episodes in this country (Outside of the D.C. Sniper) that wasn’t conducted by a disgruntled white male.

Columbine. Parkland. Sandy Hook. Auroa. Las Vegas. Virginia. Orlando. Pittsburgh. South Carolina. Now add El Paso and Dayton to that list and what you’ll come up with is one recurring pattern: white males have been behind these public executions.

Politicians with their stupid and little meaning “Our thoughts and prayers” phrase is not going to put an end to this epidemic. Legislating hate is not the answer, either. Eradicating white nationalists and white supremacists from conducting these illegal crimes the way that law enforcement agencies took out the Black Panther Party would be a start.

Parkland Shotting Survivor
© Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline – A Parkland shooting survivor speaks during a rally for young girls in Los Angeles, California.

People of color arming themselves through legal means might be a solution as well. But at what point will this level of violence stop? When does law and order re-insert itself back into our society? Even with its flawed history, American is supposed represent law and order. Some would argue at who’s expense? Black people? Native Americans? Latinos?

At one time black people (and people of color)  used to be scared of the rope. Now they’re terrorized by the gun. The gun has now replaced the rope. Terror used to come in the form of lynch mobs. Fearfulness of the men and women in blue is the new reality check for black America.

Hood and white sheets have been replaced by a badge, uniform and cowardice lawmakers. DWB (Dead While Black) has become the new occupational hazard for African Americans getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. WWB (Walking While Black) can give way to the chokehold and the permanent closure of your life’s journey.

And now, you can find yourself as an unwilling part of a mass shooting. The movie theater. At the club. Sitting in school. In worship. At a prayer meeting in church. Going to the store. At a moment’s notice you can become a slab of dark meat in the coroner’s office should your vehicle die out on the highway, if you have your hands raised, sit in your car minding your business or get pulled over for an unjustified traffic stop.

© Stephen Melkisethian
Washington DC, December 13, 2014. Reverend Al Sharpton of National Action Network joins with the families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and others in a “Justice For All” rally and march to protest police violence and racism. A diverse crowd of tens of thousands assembled at Freedom Plaza and marched down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the US Capitol for a rally with speeches by Sharpton and others. Interactions between the demonstrators and police were generally cordial during the ‘official’ phases of the event but got contentious when a relatively small raucous faction later decided to take over busy 7th Street for a time, blocking traffic and staging a ‘die in’ near the Smithsonian American Art Museum

If you’re black, you can lose your right to live by playing with a toy gun in a park or die aboard a public transit train station after getting shot in the back by a trigger-happy coward. The callous execution of Terence Crutcher give black folks a right to fear for their lives whenever they encounter law enforcement personnel.

How do we trust someone who is ready to snuff out a black life whenever the opportunity presents itself? Is Officer Bill still our best friend? There are many in the black community who will think not. Why? Because there is history of men and women with a badge and uniform killing black people and getting away with it in the name of protecting and serving.

My question is who are they serving? Who are they protecting? The black community don’t need people who don’t live in the community, come riding shotgun in the community, and become murderous overseers in the community they work in.

Didn’t Crutcher deserve the right to live like Betty Shelby, the white female officer who gunned down the black father while experiencing her big, scary black man moment?

Shouldn’t young Tamir Rice have been allowed to be able to go out on a prom date, play sports, have a career, get married and have children of his own if he wasn’t thoughtlessly assassinated by Timothy Loehmann? Did Oscar Grant deserve a bullet in his back from Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle while he was lying down on his stomach?

Longtime “Young and the Restless star Victoria Rowell was out in the streets with the rest of the protesters at the Blackout Hollywood march. Photo Credit: dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com”

What did Philando Castile do that warranted the former cafeteria worker being slain after a routine traffic stop? Did Keith Lamont Scott have a book in his hand or a gun when he was killed by a Charlotte, North Carolina plainclothes officer.

It really shouldn’t matter if Scott had a gun in his hands. North Carolina, like Ohio (Tamir Rice), is an open carry firearm state. As long as Scott did not threaten police officers in any way, he should be still alive today. Where are all these Second Amendment activists now when you need them?

If you’re black, your rights are seemingly revoked at birth because of the color of your skin. Your freedom is predicated on how well you go along with the program. America talks a good game about freedom and equality, but check the resource.

This is the same country that enjoyed and flourished under slavery. This is the same nation that operated under the guise of Jim Crow while creating an “us” versus “them” environment with their “Whites Only” water fountains, bathrooms and lunch counters.

Our women were raped. Our families were torn apart and split up. We were said to be just three-fifths of a human being. Citizenship for black people once meant a servitude existence. All this have been done while America have sworn its allegiance to the Star Spangled Banner, a song created by a man (Francis Scott Key) who owned slaves.

The “March for Our Lives Los Angeles rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman for News4usonline

One nation under God, right? OK. They tell us to protest in peace after engaging our communities with violence.

As soon as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to display his peaceful protest against police brutality and injustices to people of color, death threats came his way. Sitting and kneeling during the playing of the national anthem has brought wrath on Kaepernick’s head.

Fans have burned jerseys with his name on it. He has drawn the ire white college football coaches like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, and become a target for hicks like former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, who made a statement suggesting the signal-caller should move to another country.

As you know now, there is nothing routine about being black. There is nothing new about the reaction of people spilling over once African Americans have the gall to stand up and confront the ills affecting their communities.

Check your bells and whistles. This has played out before.

When we battled for civil rights, blacks went through a litany of obstacles. Waterhoses, freedom demonstrations, marches, bombings, cross-burnings, lynchings and riots came across the news wire like a daily exercise. So what’s the different now than back in the day when Ida B. Wells went on her anti-lynching campaign?

Not a whole lot. Video or no video, black people are being taken out with very little done to the perpetrator in receiving proper justice. Justice these days mean a small monetary payout to the victim’s family. So instead of justice, we receive a buck or two for our trouble.

“Those who commit the murders write the report,” Wells once said.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1388 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply