*CW: content may be triggering due to graphic content
Their bodies are all over the news. Black bodies. From Tulsa, Oklahoma to Charlotte, North Carolina, black bodies are making the news because they are a reminder of why #BlackLivesMatter, of why police brutality is a real issue that deserves not just our attention, but our dedication to make changes in law enforcement. The Simmons Voice stands in solidarity with all of those in the Simmons community affected by these events and issues and would like to provide members a safe outlet to voice their frustrations and beliefs.
The use of deadly force, by and large, is utilized without careful thought. In the shooting of Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla., police officer Betty Jo Shelby admitted to shooting Crutcher because she was overcome with fear, stating that she feared for her life. A video taken from a helicopter responding to the scene shows Crutcher walking away from Officer Shelby with his hands up and reaching into his car, but no weapon was found. Crutcher became another statistic, adding to the alarmingly high rate of unarmed black citizens killed by police, which was 30 percent in 2015, according to MappingPoliceViolence.org, a comprehensive website that pulls data from the three largest impartial crowdsourced databases, including the U.S. Police Shootings Database, FatalEncounters.org, and KilledbyPolice.net.
However, Crutcher does not have to be just another statistic if we come together and let our voices be heard by our police departments and government. It means that we are allies for our black and brown brothers and sisters, and that we are not afraid to bring up these issues that affect the foundation of our country, that affect America’s motto as land of the free. What do we want our legacy to be? Do we want to be a part of an overhaul of a system that discriminates against its own people, or do we want to be remembered for our inaction, for idly standing by while the lives and voices of black citizens are muted?
To quote Tiffany Crutcher, the victim’s sister, “The chain breaks here. We’re going to break the chains of police brutality.”
The only way for us to make change is by uniting. It is okay not to know everything, but we should educate ourselves about these issues. We should not be afraid to speak out and inform others of this racial inequity. It starts with us.