The police shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana continue to spark protests across the nation – despite the fact that the full circumstances of their deaths are still unknown.
A supposed police scanner transcript revealed yesterday seemed to indicate Castile may have been stopped because he resembled an armed robbery suspect, and although his girlfriend’s gut-wrenching cellphone video shows the horrible aftermath of his shooting, we do not yet know the full story of why police fired shots. If police acted without cause, no one would deny they should be brought to justice.
Similarly, a second video of Alton Sterling’s tragedy seems to indicate he forcefully resisted arrest, and the sequence of events leading to his death is still being investigated.
We also know the statistics about police shootings overall tend to disprove the widely-held belief that police regularly shoot unarmed black men, and at a much higher number than white or Hispanic.
But in an era where everyone has a camera, can record an incident from one perspective as it’s happening and within minutes, broadcast it to the entire world via social media, is it any wonder tensions flare within minutes?
Last night in Minnesota, hundreds gathered to protest against police violence…and not surprisingly, some became violent.
CNN reports, while many of the demonstrations remained peaceful, scuffles broke out overnight Saturday in St. Paul, Minnesota, where protesters clashed with police on Interstate 94.
By Sunday morning, police arrested 50 people, the St. Paul police said. Two buses full of arrested protesters drove off, with a third standing by.
Demonstrators blocked the freeway, and threw bottles, bricks and fireworks at police, authorities said.
At least five officers were injured by protesters — one hit with a glass bottle and another by fireworks, according to St. Paul police. One was hit on the head with a large piece of concrete, possibly dropped from a bridge, according to police.
Another officer had been hit in the head with a rock, though it is unclear the extent of the injuries.
Police also say a Molotov cocktail was thrown at officers.
Police used crowd control measures including smoke, police spokesman Steve Linders said, and fired marking rounds similar to paintball rounds.
As many as 200 people forced their way past Minnesota state patrol troopers who were trying to block them from getting on the road.
Elsewhere, protests in downtown Chicago resulted in three arrests, with pending charges, according to police.
More protests unfolded in cities including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Three other shootings, in Tennessee, Missouri and Georgia, endangered police around the same time.
Our nation is in danger of being ripped apart over these racial tensions. But once again we must point out the greatest danger to black men is being shot by other black men. Shooting deaths in Chicago – which has very strict gun control – occur at alarming numbers every single weekend. Already by Saturday, one man had been killed and 15 wounded.
Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every 2¹/₂ hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities, according to the New York Post.
Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West sides into the downtown business district; even Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.
The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what [writer Heather MacDonald] called the “Ferguson effect.”
Since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown inFerguson, Mo., in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down.
In fact, this sentiment appears to be what fueled the slaying of five officers in Dallas after white cops shot black men in Baton Rouge, La., and Minnesota last week.
In response to this feeling, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing — and criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum.
In 2014, blacks in Chicago made up 79 percent of all known nonfatal-shooting suspects, 85 percent of all known robbery suspects and 77 percent of all known murder suspects, according to police department data.
When will Black Lives Matter activists turn their energies to addressing the issues within their own community first?
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]