SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- In a rare display of restraint and solidarity, police officers around the nation refrained from gunning down unarmed black children, teens and adults in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was observed Monday. Based on data compiled from the Fatal Encounters project, approximately 673 African Americans were killed in a hail of police gunfire between 2013 and 2014. But even that figure remains a conservative estimate, as nobody knows precisely how many Americans are slaughtered by frightened patrolmen each year. Criminal justice experts point out that while the federal government and national research groups track mortality figures for unprovoked shark attacks, no reliable data exist to calculate the exact number of people butchered by aggressive police officers each year. With the release of newly obtained footage of Bridgeton, N.J., officers shooting yet another unarmed black man attempting to comply with their orders, peacekeeping agencies around the country assured the public that they will resume their race-based killing sprees soon.
For those not closely following current events, it’s safe to say that 2014 went out with a bang -- in fact, several bangs from standard issue police firearms. Many are aware of the August killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Some recollect the poignant video of a trooper in Billings, Mont., drawing down on an unarmed brown victim during a routine traffic stop in April, then bawling and pounding his fists in agony over what he had done. It marked officer Grant Morrison’s second killing of an unarmed man in as many years, and he was likely crying over the possibility of disciplinary action.
More recently, others may recall the images of a dead 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by authorities last month in Cleveland. The caller who reported the incident told dispatchers that the gun was a toy, but officers chose to err on the side of caution.
On January 21, revelations about a police killing in New Jersey roiled more anger, resentment and distrust as video of the incident, captured from the patrol car’s dashboard camera, was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The vehicle carrying Jerame Reid was pulled over by Bridgeton officers on December 30. He emerged from the vehicle with his hands held up to his chest and was promptly shot dead.
With an African American commander in charge of the entire U.S. military, police say the black threat has never been more pronounced. Also, they note that people of color are difficult to see at night, and any movements they make -- including breathing, moving their lips to speak or attempting to act in accordance with the officers’ orders -- can easily be mistaken for violent overtures. Despite these incidents, police chiefs across the country note that they did not kill any unarmed black Americans during the holiday.
“White people have a lot of misconceptions about what Dr. King really did,” said San Narciso Police spokesperson Ren Williams. “Admittedly, we are taught a very sanitized version of black history. Most of us know only that he marched and that it led to President Johnson signing some kind of civil rights act. The reality, though, is that Dr. King prepared his people to overcome white terrorism and oppression by learning to take a beating. They even held lessons on how to curl up and cover sensitive parts of the body while being punched, kicked and clubbed. But because he didn’t teach his people how to take a bullet, we all decided to lay off for the day.”
Other departments felt that the cessation of hostilities was a disservice. Noting that Dr. King was assassinated by a bullet, and that he was not carrying a weapon of any kind, some officers felt that shooting a few unarmed black youths would provide a more fitting tribute to the famed reverend’s legacy.
Sgt. Williams disagreed. An incident involving an off-duty police officer in Brazil best exemplifies the spirit of the holiday, according to Williams. Ricardo dos Santos, a professional surfer, was shot three times in the abdomen following an argument. He was brown and unarmed, but not technically black.
“Personally, I think the situation in Brazil illustrates the complicated commitment our brothers and sisters in uniform have,” he said. “That cop managed to avoid murdering an unarmed black man, but still carried out his duty to protect and serve by killing an unarmed person of color.”
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