Cop murders unarmed black man…again.

It’s almost routine now.

Escalating from a simple traffic stop, another unarmed black man was gunned-down today by a South Carolina cop who said that he ‘feared for his life.’

The people who insist that gun control is unnecessary because we don’t have a “gun problem” might want to consider the possibility that all of those police shootings of unarmed black men have as much to do with the assumption that everyone is “carrying” now as they have to do with the more obvious issue of racial profiling.

Even though, statistically, far more guns are in the hands of caucasians than black men,  somehow these (mostly southern) officers of the law simply assume that every black man who is reluctant to surrender to the tender mercies of Officer Friendly is getting ready to pull out a cannon and open fire.  

That they are reluctant precisely because Officer Friendly isn’t so friendly anymore, seems to evade the constables in question, over and over again.

However, in concentrating solely on the appalling truth that un-evolved attitudes toward race seem to persist in pockets all over the country, we may be overlooking an opportunity to make everyone, and especially young black men, much safer from these “accidental” shootings through a well-regulated system of gun control.

As things now stand, all Americans are well advised to bear in mind that there are 90 guns for every 100 people, so all of the strangers they encounter in a given day seem far more likely to be carrying than not.  

Of course the statistics do not take into consideration how many people own multiple weapons, and that the number of individual owners has been gradually declining over the past few decades.

But such subtleties are generally wasted on the police, who run a far greater risk than we do as civilians, of having a deadly encounter with a gun.

The anxiety this reality has produced in already poorly trained police is a recipe for disaster.

When combined with the bald racial prejudice that apparently remains pervasive in too many law enforcement bodies, it is enough to make being in the wrong place at the wrong time a deadly offense for far too many black men.

Here then, is another way in which the American cult of firearms has made an entire sector of society selectively even more unsafe.

Until American leaders have the courage to face down the NRA and insist on a reframing of the much abused Second Amendment that recognizes unregulated firearms as the threat to our freedom that they actually represent today, we will continue to have a hugely disproportionate number of senseless gun deaths when compared to Canada, Europe and nearly everywhere else in the civilized world.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

5 thoughts on “Cop murders unarmed black man…again.

  1. After reading your piece, Sue, I ran across this on the Rachel Maddow Show’s blog (Vermonter Steve Benen is the primary content provider there).

    Just a tad ironic, eh? Although, it can be spun as a reflection of the NRA’s law-abiding image and true desire to reduce gun violence risk.

    Also, one niggle: even if the datum  “there are 90 guns for every 100 people” is accurate, Sue, it doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in the likelihood that any given stranger is carrying a firearm – concealed, registered, legal, or otherwise. A lot of those 90 guns per 100 people are rifles and shotguns.

    Is the rate of gun violence in the US frighteningly out of control? Absolutely. Is there any point – especially in Vermont – to increasing people’s fear with statements from which the nuances have been pared away? I don’t think so.


    Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ~ George Orwell  

  2. …the Net says this morning is being charged for murder?  He already tasered him and the guy ran and the cop shot him, or at him, 8 times?  Good, if he’s being charged.  BAD that they’re still doing this shit, and it seems like it’s almost ‘automatic’ now.  That the cops feel–What the Hell, that’s what you’re supposed to do with a BLACK suspect.  And REALLY BAD if he gets off.  Sonsabitches!

  3. we should not forget a white guy who was shot in his woods for walking toward the cops, and a white guy who was shot in Burlington for following instructions to come down from his apartment via the garage where he picked up a shovel, and was shot when he didn’t drop it fast enough.  

    What we have here is a system where every LEO bullet is justified in some minds, no matter what the circumstance of the trigger pulling.

    Additionally, we seem to be accepting of a lowering of standards for on duty aAND off duty performance.   FRANKLY, I think a cop who violates the law in any form, should not be serving beyond that point.  

    DUI???   Sorry, you are fired.  Would we continue to employ a banker who stuffed a wad of 50s in his pocket?  Would a nuke plant operator be invited back the next day for sleeping on the job?  

    Lack of respect for the law on a personal level is how you end up with a PLANTED tazer appearing on the body of a man shot in the back.

    zero tolerance should apply.    anything less is bullshit.  Dead men tell no tales is not a motto that any police organization should consider putting on the door of the car….    

    Certainly “to protect and serve” is becoming a farce.

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