US Cops do it Again: Shoot Dead an African-American Man
NEW DELHI: Protesters took to the streets of South St. Louis on Wednesday following the fatal shooting of an African-American man by an off duty police officer.
The officer in question, was apparently off-duty and had a second job at a private security firm but still dressed in a police uniform when the incident took place.
According to the St Louis police’s Assistant Chief Alfred Adkins: As the officer “exited the car, the gentlemen took off running. He was able to follow one of them before he lost him and then found him again as the guy jumped out of some bushes across the street… The officer approached, they got into a struggle, they ended up into a gangway, at which time the young man pulled a weapon and shots were fired. The officer returned fire and unfortunately the young man was killed.”
Although the police state that a gun was recovered from the scene, relatives said that the victim had only a sandwich. Further, whilst police state that the victim was 20 years old, local residents assert that he was still a teenager, 18 years old.
The incident has drawn angry crowds as it follows on the heels of the fatal shooting of African-American teen Michael Brown by a police officer in the nearby community of Ferguson.
Eighteen year old Brown was reportedly walking, unarmed, from a convenience store to his grandmother’s apartment in Ferguson, when a police officer shot and killed him. Eyewitness accounts suggest that Brown was cooperative, raising his arms when the officer shot at him multiple times. The police version notes a struggle, saying that Brown attempted to get hold of the officer’s gun. An autopsy of Brown, released on Monday, notes that the young man was shot six times, including twice in the head.
The incident brought thousands on to the streets to ask for justice, with personal accounts of people feeling targeted by the police on the basis of their race began emerging. The police’s handling of protests added insult to injury, with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets leading to the suppression of what began as a peaceful demonstration of discontent.
Brown’s death however, seemed to be the trigger, representing years of frustration and marginalisation. Ferguson is a city of 21,000 people - 67 percent of whom are black. However, 94 percent of the police force, and most prominent figures in local government, including the mayor, are white.
These recent shootings are being compared to the shooting of 17-year old unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighbourhood watch captain. The shooter was eventually acquitted of murder in a racially charged case.
Other parallels have been drawn as well. The killing of 17-year old Jordan Davis, who was, along with his friends, shot at by a man for playing “loud music.” The jury convicted the shooter on four counts, but not on the count of murder, with many attributing the verdict to a racial context -- the shooter being white and the teenagers, including Davis who died, being black.
The most apparent parallel however, are the Los Angeles riots of 1992 -- where the trigger was the brutal police beating of Rodney King, which was videotaped and widely covered but ended in the acquittal of the officers concerned. The Ferguson protests, much like the LA riots of 1992, may have been a reaction to an immediate trigger, but are located in a far broader context of marginalisation and discrimination.