“I See Dead People!”

I’ve been blogging for almost 15 months, beginning on my birthday, March 30, 2016. Because my website host keeps all kinds of statistics, I know I’ve made 317 posts (excluding this one). I’ve written 215 about politics. Three of my granddaughters have worked their way into print.

I’ve written about education, done a few film reviews, given my thoughts on events of social relevance and often wrote about systemic injustice. I’ve begun a monthly series on “Shadow Warriors” to place a spotlight on the good works of others who have yet to receive national recognition. Generally something inspires a thought and it churns around in my head for a brief period until I sit at my computer and write the story.

I generally include multiple photos with my stories to give my words more impact. I often search the Internet and save the photo’s I use to my computer before uploading them to my blog posts. For whatever reason that someone more tech savvy than I could easily correct. The images I save often become a rotating screensaver, popping up after my screen has been idle for a period.

During the day, I rarely pay attention to the pictures. I check my laptop often enough that the screensaver isn’t activated that much and when it is I barely notice. It’s at night that I might be confronted with an image of someone I’ve written about. All too often someone unjustly killed. All too often shot by police under various circumstances. One was a child asleep on a couch, another playing with a toy in a park, several for being BWD (Black while driving). The reasons varied greatly, the one thing in common was the apparent fear for their lives police officers had when confronting these people with no weapons. One did have a weapon which he had a legal right to own. He politely informed the officer he had one and within seconds was shot dead. When I pass my computer in the night… I see dead people.

The first person I wrote about that was taken from us far too soon was Tanya Skeen. “Miss Tanya” was not a victim of police violence but was shot while standing in her own kitchen, an innocent bystander during a shootout. Another bystander, Gino Nicolas, was killed nearby as well. There was great outrage in the community and cooperation with law enforcement.  Like everyone else in the community, I was grateful when the police caught the killers who are nearing trial. Tanya Skeen used to babysit one of those granddaughters I’ve written about. Tanya was always cheerful with an infectious smile. My granddaughter learned what going to heaven is.

Tanya Skeen

Photo: twitter.com

July 2016 brought us the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The police officer who shot Castile had just been told, “Sir, I do have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.” Seconds later the officer shot him four times, in “fear for his life.” He was found not guilty. No justice, no justice, never any justice.

I didn’t write about Tamir Rice at the time of his death but did mention him, including a picture in a piece about Colin Kaepernick in August. The Devil was busy last August which gave us the deaths of Tyree King who allegedly had a BB gun. The three bullets that struck him were in the back. Terence Crutcher was killed outside his car, with his hands up. Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina was waiting for his son to get out of school. Alfred Olango’s sister called 911 to get help for her brother with mental health issues. He was unarmed but still ended up dead. All were killed by police… in fear of their lives.

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Photo: newschannel5.com

On November 21, 2016. 15-year-old James Means was killed, not by a policeman but by 62-year-old William Pullman who allegedly had been bumped into. Pullman had no remorse. He said, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the streets.” After shooting the teenager twice in the stomach, Pullman went home and had dinner. He later hung out at a friend’s home. When he was later arrested he lamented, “I’m going to lose my job and everything!”

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Photo:twitter.com

I wasn’t writing only about depressing murders at that time. Of course, there was the equally depressing election of Donald Trump and his bringing with him Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and more. I wrote about my daughter-in-law’s attempts to  kill me, with repeated overdoses of cookies. My grandmother, old friends and my high school basketball coach were highlighted in stories. Somehow their pictures didn’t make it into my screensaver rotation.

Being an ex-NFL football player didn’t keep Joe McKnight from being killed in New Orleans. His killer, 54-year old Ronald Glasser who was white, was initially released without charges. The Sheriff, also white was disturbed that, “Everybody wants to make this about race. It’s not about race!”

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Photo: nydailynews.com

Around the same time in South Carolina. The trial of police officer Michael Slager ended in a mistrial for the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. Slager was on video tape shooting the unarmed Scott in the back while running away from him. No justice, no justice, never any justice.

I knew Bernard Bailey. He was a year behind me in college. He was at Tennessee State University while I was a mile down the road at Fisk University. We played basketball in pick-up games. Despite the fact I was paired against him and he played for a rival school, I liked him. We could have become friends. He had been dead 6 years before I even heard about it, killed by the police chief in his hometown in South Carolina. His killer Richard Combs, was tried twice. Each ended in a hung jury. He did lose his job so there’s that. Bernard Bailey lost his life. No justice… you know the rest.

Bernard Bailey

Photo: twitter.com

Somewhere along the line I also wrote about Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and others. I confess that I now mix up the details of  individual deaths as there are so many. An officer in Cincinnati was acquitted today in the death of an unarmed black motorist. The two things these deaths have in common are people “in fear for their lives” that had to kill them and of course no justice!

It is not lost on me while I catch an unplanned glimpse of someone who needed not die. I was just as likely to see a picture of Trump or Sessions whose policies are likely to greatly increase my gallery rather than slow the pace. They are attempting to undermine the consent decrees entered into by police forces and their communities and promised almost no Federal oversight of police activities. While tempted to delete all the photos so as to no longer be caught unaware. I elect to keep the reminder. I know the work is not done as long as we can be shot and killed with impunity and the guaranteed result is no justice. This post is not anti-police although many of those I see were killed needlessly by them. It is anti  people who have no business carrying a gun shooting my people and walking away free. Until there is an environment where the mere statement of being in fear despite all evidence to the contrary is no longer sufficient to escape justice. I’ll still see dead people.

Featured Photo: vox.com

Yet Another Name, 15-Year-Old Jordan Edwards

Because I feel like I’ve written this story too many times. I just can’t gather myself to write about the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The police initially claimed the car he was in was “backing aggressively” towards the officer. The 6-year veteran of the force was as always, “in fear for his life.” Video footage showed he lied and in fact the car he shot into was moving away from him. The unnamed officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay (vacation).

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Photo: twitter.com

I looked back to see that I’d written about  Bernard Bailey who I’d played basketball against and went to Fisk rival Tennessee State University.

I wrote about  Walter Scott,  Joe McKnight,  Alfred Olango,  Tyre King, Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott. I even wrote about What if it was me!

I’ll leave it to others to tell the story of Jordan Edwards. I’m just a little weary right now but I’ll get back up and take on the next one. Promise!

Featured photo: twitter.com

Say One More Name: Alfred Olango

When Alfred Olango’s sister called 911 yesterday, she wanted to get him some help. She made sure to tell them he was “mentally ill. “I called three times for them to help me,” she said. “Nobody came; they said it’s not a priority.”

El Cajon, CA is about 15 miles Northeast of San Diego. It’s around 69% white and 6% black according to the last census. An unarmed black man is just as dead there as in Tulsa, OK or Cleveland, OH or North Charleston, SC. Witnesses are unsure if Alfred Olango was having a seizure or what the exact nature of his distress was? He was acting erratic and walking in traffic according to reports. They are certain he was shot multiple times. It’s reported that up to twenty police officers arrived on the scene before the ambulance finally arrived. His sister said he died on the scene. Other reports say he died later at a local hospital. All agree on his death.

Police say Alfred had his hands in his pockets and ultimately pulled something out of his pocket, assumed a “shooting stance” while pointing the object at the police. At least one witness say Alfred had his hands up. Another confirms portions of the police story. A woman voluntarily provided a cell phone video to the police. They released one still photo showing Mr. Olango pointing at an officer in a stance. There will be calls to release the rest of the video. We’ll see if transparency extends to all the evidence and not just a single frame supporting the police side? His sister said to police, “I just called for help, and you came and killed him.”

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The facts will sort themselves out. We know police knew when responding that it was a “5150 Call” and that the victim was demonstrating mental instability. The area has a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) for just such occasions, they were not brought in. We know that Alfred Olango was unarmed. He’s now dead. He was 30.

Protesters in Charlotte have not yet put down their signs before we have another man dead across the country. Protests have begun along with calls for transparency. The cycle begins anew. Time for a change!