Chavis: A Familiar Tale of Police Misconduct

We seem to live in a bizarre universe where violence against unarmed black men is OK.


Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old African-American woman, was killed in Chicago this year by Dante Servin, a white, off-duty police detective. Boyd was with a group of friends when Servin opened fire — he also claims in self-defense — against a 39-year-old African-American man named Antonio Cross, who stood adjacent to Boyd. Servin originally claimed that Cross had approached him with a gun, but an independent police review later found that no weapon was found and Cross had been holding a cellphone.

In what alternate universe do these events occur in a civil society?

Why are black youths met with deadly violence at the hands of police officers who are supposed to protect and serve them? Why are African-American boys and men, in particular, never given the dignity of victimhood? And why are the perpetrators so often allowed to go unpunished for the taking of their lives?

I think they killed him,” said Carter’s mother, Teresa, referring to officers Ron Marsh and Keith Baggett, who detained the 21-year-old. “My son wasn’t suicidal.” Teresa also says that her son was left-handed, which makes a self-inflicted wound — on the right side of his head — all the more curious and unbelievable.

The FBI confirmed that it is launching an independent investigation, but at present, local police stand by their initial conclusions. Chief Yates said that he viewed the video recording from the vehicle’s dash cam and can see no shot coming from outside the car. However, no independent viewings of the dash cam have been confirmed, and the video has not been released to the press.

From Mississippi burnings to Arkansas shootings, police officers appear to be guided by the Jim Crow principle that black men “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

As crazed white males unleash senseless terror on innocent victims from Oak Creek, Wis., to Aurora, Colo., African-American youths are stopped and searched at the whim of racially biased law enforcement and in the process denied their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable stop and seizure. And when they die — under increasingly curious circumstances — Americans, in the words of Toni Morrison, “acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.”

We are wrong, of course, but it’s too late. Much, much, much too late.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing on MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, CBS Washington and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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