EDITOR’S COLUMN: Another Innocent Black Youth Killed by Police — Damn, I’ve Had Enough!

A roll of police tape (police line) lies on the ground outside a home being foreclosed on in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2009.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Jordan Edwards, just 15, died under questionable circumstances Saturday night — shot by a police officer who used a rifle to shoot into a moving vehicle full of teenagers as they left a party in a working-class Dallas suburb. Jordan, a high school freshman and member of the football team, was sitting in the front seat, when a bullet exploded in his head, killing him while his two brothers and two friends looked on in horror. Police had been called to the house party after receiving reports of underage drinking. They claimed that they heard multiple gunshots from outside the residence that caused mass confusion and an understandable mass exodus from the premises.

Looking back, I suppose I could have suffered a similar fate, given the number of times I too attended similar soirees during my youth. And while the officer has since been fired, the teen’s murder becomes yet another unprovoked, unnecessary, and unmerited example of law enforcement exercising use of force resulting in the death of an innocent Black youth at the hands of one who, in accepting the job, had vowed to “protect and serve.”

While the Balch Springs Police Department former officer has allegedly claimed that he’ll appeal his firing, it’s unlikely he’ll be returned to the force, not only because his original statement contradicts the body-camera footage, but because he shot at a moving vehicle when neither his life, or that of his partner, appeared to be in jeopardy. Was race an issue in this shooting? It doesn’t appear to be. But the suburb cannot be described as serene as Balch Spring, a majority-minority city 15 miles east of downtown Dallas, reported more violent crime than Texas towns of similar size in 2015, according to crime data from the FBI.

We know about Black youth being killed by police. Tamir Rice in Cleveland was three years younger than Jordan. Ferguson’s Michael Brown was unarmed, as was Jordan. Walter L. Scott, like Jordan, was fleeing from police, although not in a car but on foot, in North Charleston, South Carolina when he was shot and killed. Laquan McDonald was killed by a Chicago police officer whose description of the incident, again like Jordan’s, did not jibe with dashcam video footage.

The lives of an entire family, a suburban high school, a close-knit football team and a multiracial community, have all been changed forever. One bad decision — one bullet fired — one young life snuffed out for no logical or apparent reason. We’ll probably hear about another town hall meeting focusing on race and the police. We’ll inevitably witness demands to change the way law enforcement is currently allowed to police our communities. We’ll soon see special reports on CNN or MSNBC showcasing protests in the streets headed by preachers, pontificators and groups like Black Lives Matter. But they won’t matter — not really. At least not to the loved ones of Jordan Edwards.

When Trayvon Martin died, I thought it was a horrendous fluke. I thought justice would prevail, that laws would be reviewed and that police tactics would be heavily scrutinized and drastically changed. But the legal slaughtering of Black youth, men and women has gone on and on.

Sure, we’ve had more than enough, but sometimes if feels like our lives, Black lives, simply do not matter. At least not enough to put an end to the madness. James Baldwin, decades ago, predicted “the fire next time.” I fear that his conclusion, words which I once considered unimaginable, may have been prophetic.

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About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 165 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can reach me on Twitter (@dkevinmcneir), Facebook (Kevin McNeir) or via e-mail, mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com

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