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I could be Rekia Boyd. Easily. I can’t tell you how many warm nights have included me hanging out in the park with friends. Just shooting the shit you know? Have we been loud? Probably. But there’s a reason it was an off duty cop “new to the neighborhood” & not a patrol car.

People who grew up in the area wouldn’t call the cops over something as mundane as people hanging out in the park. Because they know that Chicago police can be trigger happy, and no one wants that on their conscience over some hollering. I don’t buy the idea that a large group of black bodies = crime, but I know a lot of people who trumpet on & on about the joys of gentrification do. Lawndale is definitely facing gentrification as the West Loop gets to be the newest hot spot. Garfield Park & Lawndale are right there & full of big cheap houses that could be worth millions in a few years.

So, there are new neighbors who talk about how great the properties are & how scary the long time residents are even if they never quite say why they find them so frightening. The cop mistaking a phone at someone’s ear for a gun? That’s part of the same system of scary black man myths that killed Trayvon Martin. It’s so embedded in America’s collective psyche that we’re criminals that it probably didn’t even occur to this cop that black people could be out enjoying one of the warmest March days in history & that not be a reason to suspect anything more than an impromptu block party. No weapons were recovered at the scene, a woman is dead, a man is injured & has been charged with assault for standing outside on his phone. That’s what it means to be black in America.

6 comments to Black in America

  • James Scott

    A similar end result may have occurred even if the people in the park weren’t being loud. I also love how the first presumption is that it’s always a gun and never a cell phone, a bag of skittles, baby formula, etc. Police deaths are at their lowest levels since Prohibition, yet these shootings are still justified under a “better safe than sorry” clause. Even though the instance where sorry is needed is highly unlikely.

    “I work a dangerous job, so I have to make sure I get home to my spouse and kids safe.” Yet this same policy is rarely applied the other way around. It just aggravates me that a police officer can’t consider the person they’re confronting is just as, if not more, scared. That the other person may just want to get home safely to a family just as much as the officer would.

    • jsb16

      Somehow, I’m not very confident that the police officer in question understands that the people in the park are *people* just like he is… If justice is anywhere nearby, he’ll have some quiet time to contemplate it in the near future, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • And we still can’t even get Zimmerman and that cop off the streets and arrested, or at least walking only with a big bail on their heads–the wheels of justice stand still. Nothing changes.

  • Dan J

    “But there’s a reason it was an off duty cop “new to the neighborhood” & not a patrol car.”

    Can someone explain this to me? Maybe it is a locality difference (I’m in UK), but why would an off duty cop be in attendance?

    • karnythia

      Chicago law requires police officers to live inside the city & gives them economic incentives to buy property in neighborhoods like Lawndale. In theory it’s a good idea to bring law enforcement into contact with under served communities on a more personal level. In practice it can lead to situations like this one where the officer really doesn’t know or understand the community dynamics & overreacts to something mundane.

  • Hairy Mason

    It’s incredible that these things still continue to go unnoticed by the media until the web goes viral with it. Treyvon’s case got the attention it did because of sites like these. The first I heard of that case was when my cousin read about it on reddit. The first I’m hearing about this is because I saw angry black woman in the web address after I googled everyone’s a little bit racist. Had to click on that link, and now I’m here. This is an epidemic. Not because of the numbers of incidents(one is too many), but because of the masses of people being shielded from the truth. It’s real news. Justified slaughter of brown people in a country who preaches human rights to others is a real news story. No wonder Don Lemon got so mad about a story about a kitten putting a sweater on being a fake. Who cares? How many parents won’t see their children again because some Nazi cop shot their non-Aryan children today? That’s a story. And not even from a moral standpoint. It’s interesting even if you don’t care. Which tells me they are hiding inconveinient truths for sake of ratings.