The previous few weeks have been stuffed with devastating information — tales concerning the police killing black individuals. At this level, these calamities really feel acquainted — so acquainted, in reality, that their particulars have begun to echo one another.
In July 2014, a cellphone video captured a few of Eric Garner’s remaining phrases as New York City law enforcement officials sat on his head and pinned him to the bottom on a sidewalk: “I can’t breathe.” On May 25 of this 12 months, the identical phrases have been spoken by George Floyd, who pleaded for launch as an officer knelt on his neck and pinned him to the bottom on a Minneapolis road.
We’re on the level the place the very phrases individuals use to plead for his or her lives might be repurposed as shorthand for fully separate tragedies.
Part of our job right here at Code Switch is to contextualize and make sense of stories like this. But it is exhausting to provide you with one thing new to say. We covered the events in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014 after Michael Brown was killed by the police, and we have been in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s death in 2015. We coated the deaths of Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Delrawn Small.
We’ve talked about what occurs when camera crews leave cities still reeling from police violence. We’ve mirrored on how traumatizing it may be for black of us to consume news cycles about black death, the semantics of “uprisings” versus “riots” and the way #HousingSegregationInEverything shapes police violence. All of those conversations are enjoying out once more.
Since it is exhausting to provide you with recent insights about this phenomenon again and again and over, we thought we would look again to a different time, again in 2015, when the nation turned its collective consideration to this perpetual downside. We invited Jamil Smith, a senior author at Rolling Stone, to learn from an essay that he wrote at The New Republic greater than 5 years in the past titled “What Does Seeing Black Men Die Do for You?“
In it, he writes:
“It seems sickly fitting that those killed by police today are no longer transformed into the anointed or the condemned, but, thanks to more advanced and available technology, they become hashtags. With a flood of more videotaped killings, a hashtag seems a brutally meager epitaph, a mere declaration that a victim of police violence was once alive, human, and didn’t merit having her or his life stolen.
Unfortunately, the increased visibility of trauma and death at the hands of cops isn’t doing as much as it should be. The legacy of our increased exposure to black death has merely been the deadening of our collective senses.”
The essay remains to be hauntingly resonant at the moment, as camera-phone movies of black individuals being killed by police flow into the Internet. And it is a reminder that a lot and so little has modified. Since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 black individuals have been shot and killed by police, in line with The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings; that does not even embody those that died in police custody or have been killed utilizing different strategies.
We additionally frolicked making a (very non-comprehensive) record of names of black of us killed by the police since Eric Garner’s loss of life in 2014. Using sources together with Mapping Police Violence and The Guardian’s “The Counted” series, we learn the names of individuals from throughout the nation, of all ages. Some, like Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland, have been acquainted to us. But others have been new — a reminder that many black deaths by the hands of police do not make it to nationwide information.
We wished to study extra about every particular person’s remaining moments earlier than the police ended their lives. Here’s a few of what we discovered:
Eric Garner had simply damaged up a struggle, in line with witness testimony.
Ezell Ford was strolling in his neighborhood.
Michelle Cusseaux was altering the lock on her dwelling’s door when police arrived to take her to a psychological well being facility.
Tamir Rice was enjoying in a park.
Natasha McKenna was having a schizophrenic episode when she was tazed in Fairfax, Va.
Bettie Jones answered the door to let Chicago law enforcement officials in to assist her upstairs neighbor, who had known as 911 to resolve a home dispute.
Philando Castile was driving dwelling from dinner along with his girlfriend.
Botham Jean was consuming ice cream in his front room in Dallas.
Atatiana Jefferson was babysitting her nephew at dwelling in Fort Worth, Texas.
Eric Reason was pulling right into a parking spot at an area rooster and fish store.
Dominique Clayton was sleeping in her mattress.
Breonna Taylor was additionally asleep in her mattress.
And George Floyd was on the grocery retailer.