Not a month goes by without Black Lives Matter dubbing another Black American a martyr of the fight for Black equality. This month, their martyrs are Sylville K. Smith and Korryn Gaines: two armed, long-time criminals who resisted arrest. Smith, a man with a lengthy rap sheet, was pulled over at a traffic stop and fled his car while armed with a stolen gun in an area with poor police-civilian relations. Gaines was fatally shot two weeks ago after threatening to kill police officers who arrived at her house with a warrant for her arrest. Gaines pointed a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun at the responding officers who did not shoot her initially. Using her gun and her five-year old son as a human meat-shield, she presented enough of a threat to the police that a SWAT team was deployed to her house and ultimately shot and killed her.

Black social media, The Huffington Post, and other Leftist, Afrocentric news sources have spun these stories as evidence of White supremacy and “systemic racism.” Violent protests erupted Saturday night in Milwaukee, Smith’s hometown. The protesters destroyed businesses and targeted White people for beatings while chanting Black Lives Matter slogans. Black Lives Matter and its supporters have decided that any African-American shot by a cop or a White civilian—regardless of circumstance or just cause—is a martyr. Almost all of these “martyrs” have been just like Smith and Gaines: violent criminals who threatened an officer’s life.

Here are the unadulterated stories of BLM’s other heroes:

  • Bruce Kelley Jr., a man with a lengthy rap sheet, was drinking publicly with his father in a busway gazebo. When approached by police officers with a ticket for drinking in public, Kelley Jr. began to walk away and then, after being told to stop, rushed the officers. Attempts to tase Kelley Jr. failed because of his heavy coat. A K-9 unit then pursued Kelley Jr., who stabbed the dog as it grasped his arm. He was then shot and killed by a pursuing sergeant.
  • Meagan Hockaday, a domestically-abusive mother and the fiancée of the 911 caller, was shot after charging at the responding officer with a knife less than twenty seconds after he arrived at her apartment.
  • Charley Leundeu Keunang, a homeless, mentally-ill, illegal Cameroonian immigrant, threatened a 911 caller reporting a nearby robbery as soon as responding officers arrived. After ignoring commands and being increasingly aggressive—at one point, even reaching for an officer’s gun—Keunang fought with police and was shot and killed.
  • Ezell Ford, a mentally-ill man pursued by two police officers for erratic behavior, attacked an officer approaching him and attempted to reach for the officer’s gun while being subdued. The other officer shot Ford out of fear for his partner’s life.
  • Michael Brown, a young man who had just stolen cigarillos from a local store and threatened the store’s owner, was stopped by a responding officer who noticed that he and his friend fit the description of the suspect of the robbery. Brown rushed the officer, fighting for the officer’s gun, and was fatally shot.
  • Jonathan Ferrell, a man who crashed his car while drunk-driving, banged on the door of a stranger’s house. The homeowner called the police, and when they arrived, Ferrell charged at them. First, they used a taser to subdue him, but because it missed, the officers resorted to shooting him.

Those mentioned above had charged at the responding officers. Rushing police officers after their repeated attempts to subdue a subject with words, pepper spray, or a taser is a clear threat to their lives. In a news segment on Black Lives Matter protests, a Black Lives Matter activist himself underwent use-of-force training at a police academy. After he “shot” the subject in question in various scenarios, the activist explained that he “didn’t understand how important compliance was” and that his attitude on use of force had changed. Regarding compliance, the following Black Lives Matter martyrs either disregarded a police officer’s orders, resisted arrest and failed to submit to lawful commands, or fled from the scene of the crime or traffic stop.

  • Alton Sterling, a man previously convicted of violent offenses which left him unable to legally obtain, own, or carry a firearm, was the subject of a 911 call in which a homeless person reported that a man selling CDs had threatened him with a handgun. Sterling’s possession of the firearm and his non-compliance after repeated attempts by police to suppress him through various non-lethal means led to his death.
  • Jamar Clark, a man previously convicted of first-degree aggravated assault and awaiting trial for a high-speed chase arrest, was breaking up a fight between the host of a party and his ex-girlfriend who had obtained a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order against him. Clark pulled his ex-girlfriend away from prying eyes and battered her, prompting an onlooker to call for paramedics. Not only did Clark try to interfere with his ex-girlfriend being escorted to the ambulance, he attacked the police officer who tried to hold him back—which ultimately resulted in his death.
  • Freddie Gray, a man with many arrests and citations on his rap sheet, five of which were then active warrants, fled from police in a high-crime area in possession of an illegal switchblade. He sustained fatal injuries after a rough ride in the back of a Baltimore Police Department van, during which he was cuffed but not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Eric Courtney Harris was fatally shot by a reserve sheriff’s deputy while running from a sting operation to arrest him for drug- and arms-dealing. The deputy claimed that he had confused his taser for his gun.
  • Jeramie Reid, pulled over after running through a stop sign, moved around the car against the orders of the police officer after disclosing he had a gun in the glove compartment. After the officer retrieved the gun, Reid attempted to exit the vehicle without the prior instruction of the officer, but the officer kept the door closed, wary that Reid may have had a second weapon on him in the car. Again, without prior instruction, Reid attempted to exit the vehicle—this time after the officer had moved back—and as Reid exited the car, he was shot.
  • Tamir Rice, a young boy playing with an Airsoft pistol with the orange safety tip removed, pointed his toy gun at passersby and the police when they arrived. Not knowing it was fake, the police shot Rice.
  • Eric Garner, a man selling loose cigarettes without tax stamps, resisted arrest until the responding officer took him down and put him in a submission hold until he passed out. Garner was obese, and had asthma and heart disease, which contributed to his death.

Of those listed above, each of whom was shot by a White police officer—a demographic around which Black Lives Matter constructed much of their central narrative—the only cases in which the officers were not charged were those of Brown, Rice, Clark, Kelley Jr., and Sterling—all of whom were killed justifiably without evidence of misconduct. In the cases of Harris and Gray, the White officers were respectively charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree depraved-heart murder along with involuntary manslaughter.

While the majority of Black Lives Matter’s heroes were justly killed, there are some examples of clear-cut police misconduct. Yet, in each of these following instances—except in the case of Boyd’s shooter who was found not guilty due to an atypical directed verdict—each officer was placed on leave pending investigation, fired, sentenced to up to fifteen years in jail, and fired, respectively. Bland’s suicide would have been noticed sooner had the police either properly conducted their hourly rounds or put her on suicide watch; given her multiple past suicide attempts, it would have been protocol to check on her every fifteen minutes. Their failure to do so was indeed a policy violation, but there is no evidence that systemic racism is to blame for her death; both the state trooper and sheriff involved were fired.

  • Philando Castile, a man pulled over in a traffic stop, was killed by an officer after disclosing he was legally armed, and then moving his hands as one officer told him not to move while the other officer had told him to show his license and registration.
  • Corey Jones was killed by a plainclothes officer while waiting by his car after it had broken down. While doing burglary surveillance, the officer claimed that he was confronted by an armed subject—evidently Jones—but he gunned down Jones without probable cause.
  • Akai Gurley, a resident of one of the most dangerous housing developments in New York City, was accidentally shot by a rookie officer while patrolling his building.
  • Rekia Boyd, a young woman out with her friends, was shot at a distance by an off-duty detective who claims Boyd’s boyfriend’s cell phone appeared to be a gun.
  • Sandra Bland, an avid Black Lives Matter supporter with a history of suicide attempts and a lengthy rap sheet of misdemeanors, was found dead in her jail cell after she hanged herself with a bed sheet. She had been pulled over for failing to signal a lane change, but was ultimately arrested after assaulting an officer and resisting arrest at the traffic stop.

The following were all killed by civilians, so to use their deaths as evidence of racism in police conduct is nonsensical. McBride’s death, in particular, was likely avoidable and unnecessary, and a jury agreed with this sentiment, sentencing her shooter to seventeen to thirty-two years in prison. This punishment goes against the Black Lives Matter narrative that the justice system perpetuates systemic racism and fails to punish oppressors.

  • Renisha McBride, a young woman who drunkenly crashed her car in the middle of the night, banged on the door of a stranger’s house looking for help. The resident of the home thought McBride was breaking in and shot her with his shotgun.
  • Jordan Davis, a high schooler who started a verbal altercation with a civilian after refusing to turn down his music, reportedly pulled out a shotgun and was then shot by the person with whom he was arguing.
  • Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, hoodie-clad high schooler pursued by the community’s watchman through his gated community, attacked him after being provoked. After a violent struggle between the two, the Hispanic watchman—who claimed to be in fear for his life—stood his ground and shot Martin.

BLM celebrated each and every person here as a martyr, as if each individual contributed meaningfully to Black America and our fight for equality. But instead, we find that almost all of Black Lives Matter’s martyrs were mentally ill, prior criminals, the subject of a 911 call reporting a criminal act, or pursued by police for doing something illegal. These are not role models for our community. By glorifying the deaths of Black people who were killed under justifiable circumstances and failed to comply with lawful orders from police officers, Black Lives Matter is damaging the credibility of its argument against police brutality and doing a disservice to those seeking justice for actually unjust killings by police.

Black Lives Matter would have a much more compelling case if they were willing to concede that shootings by police can be—and often are—justified. Refocusing on issues at specific police departments—such as poor training (notably in the cases of Gurley and Harris) and bias due to the statistically disproportionate amount of crime committed by Black Americans—would give them more legitimacy and have more of an impact on the national discourse on crime, policing, and police brutality.

Image Source: Flickr

Categories: Feature
  • ABC

    I’ve been thinking about this very issue for a long time now, definitely since the Michael Brown incident. It’s disheartening to see how willing people are to blatantly ignore hard facts and rush to judgment. To elaborate more on the Michael Brown case, this is all verbatim from the Department of Justice’s final report:

    Michael Brown approached Officer Wilson and attempted to grab Officer Wilson’s gun:
    “Microscopic analysis of the wound indicates that Brown’s hand was near the muzzle of the gun when Wilson pulled the trigger.”

    “AFMES pathologists further opined that, given the tangential nature of the wound, the fact that the soot was concentrated on one side of the wound, and the bullet trajectory as detailed below, the wound to the thumb is consistent with Brown’s hand being on the barrel of the gun itself, though not the muzzle, at the time the shot was fired.”

    “The autopsy established that Brown did not sustain gunshot wounds to his back.”

    “Brown is also the source of the major contributor of a DNA mixture found on the interior driver’s door handle of the SUV.”

    “The autopsy results and bullet trajectory are consistent with Brown’s DNA being present on the gun as a result of the struggle over the gun.”

    Michael Brown did in fact rob a convenience store:
    “Surveillance video shows Brown stealing several packages of cigarillos and then forcefully shoving the store clerk who tried to stop him from leaving the store without paying. … Brown and Witness 101 proceeded to the exit and the clerk, who is about 5’6” and 150 lbs, attempted to stop them. The clerk first tried to hold the store door closed to prevent Brown’s exit. However, Brown shoved the clerk aside, and as Witness 101 walked out the door, Brown menacingly re-approached the clerk. According to the store employees, Brown, looking “crazy” and using profane language, said something like, “What are you gonna do about it?” Brown then exited the store and the clerk’s daughter called 911.”

    And, to top it all off, multiple witnesses who pushed the prevailing narrative of Michael Brown with his hands up and back turned to Officer Wilson during interviews with the DOJ later admitted that they didn’t actually witness the events but simply made up the facts or repeated what they heard from the media because they “wanted to be part of it.” On the other hand, witnesses whose accounts were actually fairly consistent with the physical evidence said the following things in interviews with the DOJ:
    “[The witness] further explained that “most people think that police are bad for ‘em up until the time they’re in need of the police,” and he felt that witnesses would not come forward to tell the truth in this case because of community pressure.”

    “However, Witness 108 refused to provide additional details to either county or federal authorities, citing community sentiment to support a “hands up” surrender narrative as his reason to remain silent. He explained that he would rather go to jail than testify before the county grand jury.”

    “Like Witness 108, Witness 109 claimed to have witnessed the shooting, stated that it was justified, and repeatedly refused to give formal statements to law enforcement for fear of reprisal should the Canfield Drive neighborhood find out that his account corroborated Wilson.”

    “SLCPD detectives responded to the venue of the social function to interview Witness 110 and Witness 111, but they were reluctant to speak to law enforcement, fearing retaliation from people in the community.”

    The last bit about witnesses feeling pressure from the community not to approach investigators with their testimony is the most disturbing part to me. It’s disgusting that people are willing to sacrifice truth for their own agendas, and the problem is exacerbated by many people’s unwillingness to do their own research instead of reading Tweets and watching 1-minute NowThis videos on Facebook.

    The liberal community needs to stop pushing false narratives and catering to the most radical and vocal minorities of their group. It helps nobody–not the family of the dead, the officers being scrutinized, or the general unity of our communities and of our country as a whole.

    Anyone can read the entire DOJ report here, if they’re interested: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/doj_report_on_shooting_of_michael_brown_1.pdf.

  • Astonished

    And we sit here on our ivory towers, yet again, to talk about how people deserve to die. I named myself astonished for this post for a number of reasons. One of these is how often someone’s criminal record is brought up in each of the people which the author has turned into bullet points. Does the fact that someone has a criminal record make them any less of a person than you or me? That is incredibly dehumanizing. I’m going to share some stories I’ve heard and insights off of them.

    I’ve spent time with people who have more extensive criminal records than the people that you have listed. They are trying with more than they have (emotionally, physically, and financially) to get out of the cycles of poverty in which they grew up in, influencing their criminal behavior. Yet, they experience discrimination on a daily basis. They are pulled over by police officers (basically because they are black/latino and have tattoos) while they are doing nothing but walking down the street, searched without any cause, and beaten for questioning the officers’ motives. They are taken into the police station and held because they are thought to look dangerous. This has been an almost universal experience from the people that I’ve interacted with.

    Put aside an initial reaction of defending the officers for now. I actually have a lot of sympathy for officers, as they are doing an incredibly difficult job. I am not asking whether or not their actions are justified or “make sense.” But try and imagine yourself in one of their shoes (and I’m using this as a general statement, not directed towards any commenters or the author). Would you maybe have something somewhat disrespectful to say to the officer? What about after the 5th time in a month? What about the next time, after you’ve been unjustly beaten, or watched a friend go through the same, because of how you look? Do you think you may react differently than you are telling them to act?

    What about when you’ve seen people like yourself experience discrimination and racism left and right, and even experienced it yourself? This includes interpersonal interactions, but also systemic issues. Something as simple as housing discrimination 50-60 years ago. Neighborhoods were deemed less valuable if they have people of color in even one house in the neighborhood. Racist people moved out, and segregation amplified. An important financial piece of this is that schools are funded by property tax. The obvious result is that schools in low income (usually primarily occupied by people of color, and at a high rate African-Americans) are underfunded (by the way, the effects of this are actually a big piece of what #blacklivesmatter is fighting for – it isn’t just police brutality, it is a whole system that is discriminatory). The kids growing up in these neighborhoods have next to no opportunity of escaping, let alone even surviving (you’d be surprised to know how often I’ve heard stories of kids that didn’t expect to still be alive when they were 20). Why do you think they make such a big deal on sporting networks about the stories of people who have made it out of these areas? Because it’s damn near impossible.

    Do you think, if this was you, you may have some pent up anger? What about, when that anger comes out, that people tell you to calm down, they tell you that, no, what you’re experiencing isn’t real or important? Now imagine yourself interacting with the police in a calm, “civilized” manner. It will be very difficult, especially when you have no reason to trust that you will be ok even if you’re innocent. These are all stories I’ve heard, over and over again.

    Now, remember, you are someone who grew up in one of these neighborhoods and truly are trying to improve your life. Do you think this might make it incredibly difficult?

    The thing is, it’s easy to sit behind a TV screen or a computer and tell people how to act when you haven’t experienced what the people you are condemning have experienced. We, as a society, need to do better at two things. One, is first having compassion. In all of the cases listed in the article, someone has been killed. Whether it was legal or not should not be a way for us to distance ourselves from the loss of human life that has still occurred. What if that was your son, your brother, your father? Would you care if it was justified, or if they had a criminal record? (It should go without saying, but the same goes both ways – officers lost in duty should also be given this dignity, as should anyone else who loses their life. Gang member, sick and homeless person, or person dying of natural causes at the end of a long life).

    And second, we need to be better at trying to see what is behind actions. Sure, Michael Brown made a poor choice. But what was behind that choice? What kinds of 18 years of pain had he experienced that caused him to behave in the way that he did? (Even the justice department has determined that police in Ferguson is unjust towards the black population).

    Please, consider with me, what it might be like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

  • Bud

    Dear Astonished,
    A lot of words for very little content. By the way, I have tried walking in someone else’s shoes. I tried putting on my friend’s Michael Jordan’s, and they were like three sizes too small. Didn’t last very long.

  • Ian M.

    Astonished,

    It wasn’t the writers’ intention to dehumanize them. He was pointing out that the shootings were in fact justifiable, contrary to what BLM or the media would have us believe. I understand that racial profiling is an issue, but the people mentioned above cannot be used as martyrs in that fight (however, I disagree with several of the names brought up; some of those shootings were unjustified).

  • Fucku

    Wow. FUCK THIS WEBSITE

  • Brent

    That’s physically impossible. But, we shouldn’t expect a leftist like you to understand that, should we?