I am back from my ten day trip with Culley, Toby and Sean. I had planned to sit down and touch on the moments that truly stand out in my mind from our cruise and two days at Disney. And there were many moments. Moments that made me laugh, catch my breath, even stop me short with an unexpected tear to the eye.
They are our takeaways. They are the split seconds in time that mean so much that they sear themselves in as memories. They are the defining moments in a journey, an experience, a life. They are also the ticks on the clock when we make decisions, choices, take actions we may see bear positive fruit, or the rancid decay of regret.
I may well steer myself back to the keyboard to share those Disney moments with you later this week. But the only moment that brings me to the blog today is the moment when yet another black man died. Scratch that, was murdered.
His crime? Car trouble, apparently.
I am at once numb and overwhelmed by the murder of Terence Crutcher.
Numb, because when first seeing the headline, I experienced the same emotional ennui so many us of feel at these stories. They are too often, too regular, too expected. And by their frequency, even those of us who do care so very much, who do see the absolute inequity at play, who do understand the words BLACK LIVES MATTER - we see, we sigh, we sit numbed.
Overwhelmed, because it only takes two eyes, a heart, and a brain that processes free of bullshit and kneejerk apologism, to see an innocent man gunned down and left without aid to die in the street where he had car trouble.
It begins and ends there for me - in that last portion of the sentence.
Where he had car trouble.
Mr. Crutcher, on his way home from the community college, had car trouble. That's it, that's all. He was not committing a crime.
He was simply in need of aid. A tow. An extra set of hands and muscles to help push his car form the roadway.
Now, were it me? Stalled out. Outside my vehicle. Police would pull up. Police would walk calmly towards me. Police would ask what the problem may be. Police would then render what assistance they could. Police would stay with me sharing bad jokes and stories until AAA showed up.
I would not be immediately suspect. The helicopter people above would not be caught referring to me as a "bad dude." Tasers would not be a consideration. And guns would most certainly never leave their holsters. Which means I would never end up face down on the pavement, bleeding out.
But then, I am a white woman. I am protected by the privilege my sex and my skin tone immediately afford me.
How any white person can watch the videos available - from so many encounters like this - and deny that black skin all too often is a death sentence, is beyond me. Are you willfully belligerent? Are you so frightened of having your obvious privilege called out, fearful that admitting it means it might vaporize? Or are you just that stupid and callous?
The apologists' lines are always the same regardless of the (pardon the choice of term) black and white video evidence before them.
If he had just complied...
He was reaching...
The cops felt threatened...
He was acting erratically...
You never hear a single one of them say, "Damn. They just shot him dead."
As this day has moved forward, the Tulsa police department is now saying they found a small vial of PCP in his vehicle. I DO NOT CARE. I do not care if his entire vehicle was filled fender to fender with black tar heroin. I do not care if he had a record. I do not care if he posted questionable pictures on his Facebook.
What I care about is the MOMENT he was killed. A MOMENT in which he was not guilty of anything. He had no weapon. His hands were raised as he walked back to his vehicle. The MOMENT he was shot and left to die on the road.
They are also saying he was reaching into his vehicle through the window, somehow justifying the murder. Oops, the attorneys for his family immediately released a screen grab from the video that shows blood streaked from the top to the bottom of the closed window.
"You can see it is completely up and there is blood going almost to the top of the window," said attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family along with Melvin C. Hall and Solomon-Simmons. "We thought it was important to address this misinformation that has been put out for public consumption," Crump said.
This man's life had value, merit. This man had family and friends who loved him, who cared, who lit up when he came around.
And in a single moment, he was gone.
A moment in which an officer played judge, jury, AND executioner. A moment in which other officers surrounded her and watched it happen. A moment in which all those officers, instead of rendering aid to a bleeding man, immediately began formulating a lie, that he would not comply, would not follow their commands to raise his hands, etc. A lie they clung to until that inconvenient video emerged showing his hands firmly raised, him not acting threateningly.
Look, we all would like to think that every person who wears a badge and carries a gun is a social justice laureate. But the reality is that they are just people. And as such, some are great, some are shit. Some distribute justice and aid fairly, evenly, some allow their own personal prejudices to be the filter through which they decide.
Not every officer is a good officer.
Why is it so hard for so many to accept that? With more and more technology at play, more and more lying, abusive, murderous, power hungry, God complexed officers are being outed. And they should be both fired and held accountable in courts of law. Sadly, what happens far too often is that the blue wall protects them, and the willfully bigoted in society do, too.
Is Officer Betty Shelby a bad seed? I do not know. She was not responding to the 911 call about the car blocking the road. She was on her way to another call and came upon Crutcher and his vehicle. She had no knowledge whatsoever about the car or the man. However, she is now being touted as a "drug recognition expert" as they simultaneously release information about the vial in his vehicle. Was he actively on the substance? I do not know that either. What I do know is that she chose the MOMENT to draw her weapon, pull the trigger, and end another black man's life. ALL CAUGHT ON VIDEO.
There must be accountability here. Will there be? That is uncertain. The Blue Rumpelstiltskin Wheel has already begun to try to spin bullshit into gold to protect their actions. Each spin being undone and shown to be a lie.
The only certainty, the one thing we can count on, is that the next MOMENT is right around the corner. And as opposed to the moments I had intended to write about from my trip, the ones filled with laughter and joy, the next MOMENT I refer to will only be filled with the tears of another black family.
Rest in peace, Terence Crutcher - your black life did, does matter.