A Brief Timeline of Violence against Black People

A Brief Timeline of Violence against Black People

Black People – With the recent injustices and unjust execution of the black community prevailing in the United States, justice for the black American community who lost their life is what everybody is yearning for by the people. The bereaved families of the victims of violence against the black American community has been calling for justice for years but the Trump administration reversed Obama’s tentative steps to serve just and humane trials.  

The nationwide relentless protests that follows Floyd’s death is undoubtedly more intense than in 2014; the leadership from the White House immeasurably more reckless, insensitive and life threatening. 

Way back on August 14, 2014, people gather peacefully at a vigil in Ferguson, Missouri near the spot where the teenager Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. Mike Brown’s body was found on the street for four hours after he was shot dead by a white officer. According to the witnesses, described him holding his hands up in surrender before he was killed.

Same scenario happened, Eric Garner from New York told a white officer who placed him in a banned chokehold that he could not breathe before he died. He repeated the phrase 11 times.

Also 12-year-old Tamir Rice from Cleveland, Ohio, played on a snowy winter morning with a toy gun before he was shot dead by a white officer.

“When I see any of these murders it’s like the government is throwing more salt on an open wound and I’m not having a chance to heal.” Samaria Rice, mother of young Tamir, at a park bench near the site of her son’s death on her lamentations. 

Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice: ‘When I see any of these murders it’s like the government is throwing more salt on an open wound and I’m not having a chance to heal.’ Then, she was referring to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both shot dead by police within a day of each other earlier that month. 

With these horrific deaths of unarmed and innocent black men and boys all happened in just four months of each other back in 2014, a reason why we could not turn a blind eye. How saddening it is to admit that it is a cycle of American state brutality that has repeated itself year upon year, generation upon generation. 

Same thing has happened in 2015. Tony Robinson, then Eric Harris, then Walter Scott, then Freddie Gray, then William Chapman, then Samuel DuBose are no exempted with violence. And what makes it heavier is that that these names have faded from everyone’s memory. 

In 2018, 21-year old EJ Bradford was shot three times from behind by an officer in Hoover, Alabama. The incident barely made the news. 

In 2019 Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old rapper, was shot at 55 times by officers in Vallejo, California, as he lay sleeping in his car. His death failed to capture prolonged attention. 

In 2020 bloody rioting across Mississippi’s prison system led to more than a dozen deaths. Trump said nothing. 

George Floyd, a 46-year-old loving father and an advocate, lost his precious life in a knee-to-neck restraint for almost nine minutes by a white officer in Minneapolis. Ironically, he died in the same metro area as Philando Castile and uttered the same final words as Eric Garner. 

And yet, here we go again.  

When will it stop? Violence against black men and women at the hands of white authority is indeed destructively consuming the United States, and continues to influence its policing biases and prejudices from day to day. 

To begin with, American police departments include violent slave patrols utilized in southern states before the civil war, then the legal enforcement of racist Black Codes, followed by Jim Crow laws. With an overwhelming number of white races over black community and other races who is merely the victim of brutalized vulnerable communities that keeps on happening like a cycle. Thousands of white Americans by white vigilantes went unpunished by the judicial system. And true enough, during the civil rights era and well beyond, peaceful protest has been harshly discouraged and dissented by officers sworn to protect and serve. 

“Law and order” is what Trump instilled on himself as an aspiring Presidential candidate during a dark acceptance speech. The former Milwaukee sheriff, David Clarke, led the arena in a chilling round of applause for the Baltimore police officer Brian Rice, who that day had been acquitted on charges related to the death of Freddie Gray, whose spine was almost severed during his 2014 arrest. 

Since Michael Brown’s death, which began a nationwide reckoning and rejuvenated the Black Lives Matter movement, Obama had used his authority to target problematic police departments, including those in Ferguson, Chicago and Baltimore, with justice department investigations. And unluckily, Trump’s response to police violence was a marked departure from the Obama administration. 

He issued an executive order to curtail local departments’ procurement of certain military-grade equipment. He commissioned a taskforce on 21st-century policing, which memorably urged American law enforcement to move from a “warrior” to a “guardian” culture. 

With the promising mobilization of Police departments the country, according to data it has roughly 18,000 police departments each with their own use of force policy, hiring practices and oversight mechanisms to mobilize with proper authority and just actions to make justice prevail.  

And then Donald Trump assumed the 45th president of the United States. 

Trump’s administration has imposed on numerous problematic police departments. He revoked a directive, issued by the Obama administration, to end the US government’s use of private prisons – a marker of the first black president’s attempt to end the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown men. 

Eight months in and Trump freed up local police to once again procure military-grade equipment, and Sessions had effectively cancelled the US government’s flagship community police program.

But beyond the race wars and quiet policy downfalls, young men continued to die leading the movement for black lives received less and less media oxygen, except for now. 

 ‘We need to dismantle the whole system and really rebuild it again’

But for many, incremental change is not enough. The words Samaria Rice said in 2016 have resonated with me throughout this period of unrest. 

“We need to dismantle the whole system and really rebuild it again.” 

George Brown

Being passionate in reading, traveling, and photography, his passion motivated him to inspire others and to be a writer. During his free time, he spends his time with his cats under the sun.

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