Racism and Police Violence

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With all eyes on the recent Ferguson, Missouri incident, in which a white policeman fatally shot multiple rounds at an unarmed black teenager Mike Brown, tensions are running high. This stress is fueled by the decades-long infamous fight for equality by the black community. Residents of the Ferguson community have publicly protested this injustice several times, including most recently this past weekend, by blocking streets, having sit-ins, and disregarding local curfew laws.

Despite investigation by both the Missouri State Police and the FBI, there is still no resolution in the Ferguson case–and similar cases of abuse are now making headlines. Numerous investigations have been opened nationwide, including a black man who was fatally shot by a white officer for carrying a pellet gun in a Wal-Mart despite Ohio’s open carry policy; Eric Garner, a black New York City resident, was killed by a chokehold by a white police officer for selling loose cigarettes. The use of a chokehold by police officer in New York City has been illegal since 1993.

Now, according to Reuters, and the New York Times, another young black man has been killed by St. Louis police in the Shaw neighborhood. In the Shaw incident, a 32-year-old white St. Louis police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. after the officer, who was off duty working for a private security company, saw Myers and two friends running and pursued them, according to a statement issued by the St. Louis police department.

All these events have occurred within the last six months.  An organization called “HandsUp United” had already scheduled a “Weekend of Resistance” for the Columbus Day weekend; the shooting of Myers has only increased the number of people using that site to arrange transportation from all over the country to be part of major displays of civil disobedience.

As more incidents blazon the headlines a peculiar story is thrown into the mix. On September 24, Jamal Jones was stopped in a routine traffic stop; Jones was not wearing his seatbelt at the time. After refusing to exit the car, and provide “sufficient identification” the police officer used force to remove the man from the car. He broke the passenger window with a riot baton and when Jones struggled the policeman used a taser gun to subdue him. This was all captured on video by Jamal Jones 14-year old son who was sitting in the back seat with his seven-year-old sister.

Jamal Jones is taking legal action against the policeman for battery, and use of excessive force. The officer reiterates that he has the right to request identification, and used force because he felt that his safety was threatened.