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Sunday, May 16, 2021

We’ve been here before: Living in a perpetual loop of déjà vu

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Another week, another column about the same damn thing: police brutality.

The names change, but the story remains the same. It’s a story that is centuries old now — yet it’s brand new to some. It still hurts. As a matter of fact, it hurts more because the pain is compounded. Every time a Black person is killed by the police, it brings old wounds back to the surface and it provides a fresh hurt for the families who are now traumatized. It’s like a nightmare we can’t awake from.

You think maybe people will finally get the picture. Maybe change will happen during our brief respite from killing unarmed Black men, women and children, but then we soon realize the honeymoon period is over and here’s another death.

I started my Saturday with news about the police harassing Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario. The next day I learned about two police-action shootings. One fatal. William Manery was shot by a Marion County Sheriff deputy in Broad Ripple. Daunte Wright, 20, was killed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, by 26-year veteran police officer Kim Potter. Potter has since resigned and has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. The Brooklyn Center chief of police Tim Gannon said Potter mistook her service weapon for her Taser when she shot and killed Wright. He’s since resigned as well.

Let me just digress here and say I need more information on this gun and Taser mix-up. Are we to believe the Taser and handgun look the same, have the same weight and feel and operate in the same manner? This reasoning doesn’t seem plausible to me. I know after she shot her gun, Potter expressed “disbelief” at what happened. If this is a common occurrence, then we need to address this issue ASAP. If it’s not a common problem, we need to understand how one confuses the two. At least I need to understand because it seems like an officer with 26 years on the police force would know how not to make such a mistake.

The fact that these recent events happened against the backdrop of the Derek Chauvin trial and lawmakers in Maryland overriding the governor’s veto to pass what’s been called a “sweeping” police reform bill isn’t lost on me. The bill is an effort to listen to the people of Maryland and create better accountability for police officers.

It seems just as you think there could possibly be an inkling of progress, just a little, you get a swift kick in the gut and a reminder that this is America.

I haven’t watched the video of Daunte Wright’s murder. I don’t think I ever will. I’m tired of seeing Black men killed. It’s traumatizing, frustrating and exhausting to watch. I’m tired of watching Black pain and Black trauma on repeat.

I know for some watching the video of George Floyd dying felt different. It was a long, drawn out death. Whereas many times shooting incidents are much quicker. I don’t care how long the video is, it all feels the same to me: another Black person dead. Another family destroyed.

As I watched the video of Nazario and the cops who pulled him over and read about Wright, my head filled with all of the reasons white Americans — and some Black — will use to blame the victims. These tired comments are on repeat as well, and every time the person uttering those words thinks he or she is saying something profound that’s never been heard before. It’s so exhausting.

This column is hard to write. Not because I don’t have the words, but because I have too many words. I have too many emotions. I have too many thoughts. I’m all over the place. I have so much in me that the only real way to release it all is to scream and cry.

Maybe one day I won’t have to write another column about police brutality and the murder of another unarmed Black person at the hands of law enforcement officers. I’m really looking forward to that day.

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