Not the First, Not the Last

Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark is not the first Black man to be shot and killed for posing an imaginary threat to the nearby community. Unfortunately, he will most likely not be the last person of color to fall victim to police brutality and ignorance. The police officers claimed that Clark was facing them and seemed dangerous and like he was holding a gun. Contradictory to their statements, the autopsy report says Clark was shot from the back 8 times. In past police shootings, the court has typically sided with the officers when there is clear evidence that the officers shot because they had reason to fear for their lives. In this case, with the footage from their body cameras, it is unclear to determine whether or not there could have been any foreseeable danger.

It is unfortunate and sad that police shootings continue to happen in this country toward people of color. Tensions are always high after a shooting of an innocent human being among the Black community because they are aware of the racist undertones of the shooting. Meanwhile, many White Americans side with the officers many times, stating they believed the officer had every right to shoot. A lot of times White people believe there was a serious threat because of the stereotypes that they have been raised with and the imagery of a violent Black man that comes to mind. For a White person, it is not hard for them to imagine a threatening Black man that made the cops so afraid for their lives that they had to shoot. But for Black people, they are the ones falling prey to these actions and they are living with the consequences. Every time the judge chooses in favor of the police officer, it is a major blow to the Black community.

Not only is the reaction of different people important, but also the reaction of the police officers. It seems that many times they know they did the wrong thing yet they continue to defend their actions and come up with excuses. I wonder what training officers go through before they get their badges and if there is a course where they learn about racism in America. If this exists, why is it not working? It doesn’t exist, why doesn’t it exist? Is it because old White men who are scared of the decline of their power run our country? And if it does exist, how can we improve it so that we are less likely to kill innocent people just because of the color of their skin?

2 thoughts on “Not the First, Not the Last”

  1. This is a great post, Maia! Your questions you leave us with are so intriguing. I wish I had an answer for where we falter in our justice system, but I think the issues are so engrained in the system that we can not change one specific aspect without essentially having to recreate the whole system. The fact that there is a system that is in place that makes officers feel comfortable and safe even though they know they are in the wrong is exactly why things need to change. Stephon Clark did not need to be shot 8 times, or really at all for that matter. The fact that the system, like you mentioned, sides with police even through lies and wrongdoings is the root cause of all that is wrong with our justice system. This is where things need to change.

  2. Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my close friends, who is a Black male. I was talking to him about police brutality, and he proceeded to tell me that there is a reason why he dresses the way he does. He does not wear hoodies or any clothing that he believes might make him stand out. My cousin is a police officer, and your post intrigued me, so I asked him whether or not training to become a police officer involves any type of training about racism in America. I was not shocked to learned that there is barely any training. I think one of the reasons it does not exist is because incorporating that type of training would mean admitting that White people have implicit biases and hold negative stereotypes about all people of color. White people pride themselves on supporting egalitarian values and also believing in a just system. There was absolutely no reason for Stephon Clark to be shot from the back 8 times. One or two bullets is enough to kill somebody.

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