I keep thinking of him as a boy because he possessed such innocence. His cousin said he was "the sweetest soul." These were his final words.
But since I went there, I should also bear witness to Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, 27 years old, who had fallen asleep in his car in the drive through line of a Wendy's burger joint. He wasn't blocking anyone. Other cars could pull around him and get their food. It was his daughter's birthday, and he had been drinking. Someone called the cops. When they came, he asked if he could just walk home to his sister's house a few minutes away. But no, they began to harass him and escalate the situation. He was compliant the whole time, until they pointed a taser at him and tried to slap cuffs on him, at which point he grabbed the taser and took off running. He was drunk. He wasn't reasoning at full capacity. All the same, running away from cops seems a very logical thing for a black man to do because if you go anywhere with them you very likely could end up dead. Rayshard ended up dead anyway. The cops shot him in the back, and then walked over to his prone body and one of them kicked him while the other stood on him.
Never mind that after arresting that white boy Dylann Roof who murdered nine black people who had welcomed him into their prayer group at a Charleston church in 2015, the cops bought him a meal from Burger King because he was hungry. He had gunned down nine people in the act of praying yet the cops managed to arrest him without putting a scratch on him. Then bought him food. The least the cops could have done for Rayshard Brooks is call him an uber or offer to drive him home in their squad car. He was unarmed, a family man. He wasn't actually driving drunk though obviously he had been. But driving drunk is not punishable by death. He just needed to get home.
And then there are the seven black men across the country who have been found hanging from trees in the past two weeks, in front of a City Hall, in a school yard, in a park, all ruled suicides. I promise you, black men do not hang themselves from trees, even if they have decided to exit this life. How do you rule a man whose body bears bruises from a recent battering as a suicide? Why is the press not covering this story? Some are whispering that it's cops who are orchestrating this new/old form of terror. I don't know it that's true but they're the ones ruling these lynchings as suicides, and in their response to BLM protests across the country, they're the ones making the most convincing case about police brutality, too.
My daughter and her boyfriend had to drive to a town in New Jersey two weekends ago and they asked to borrow our car. I thought nothing of it as I waved them off, and then suddenly, I was hyperventilating, realizing they were heading to a small town in the middle of nowhere, a place I knew nothing about and could not visualize, and would they find Trump supporters there, white supremacists who might do them harm, and I couldn't breath properly until they called me a couple hours later and said they were on the way home.
So this is why I have not been writing here. Who wants to read about such casual everyday trauma? And yet, it seems that when I sit down here, I cannot write anything else unless I set this down first. I think I feel driven to bear witness because until November, it is the only thing I can do.