Written by Dominique Harris, Staff Writer
In another act of police brutality against African Americans, forty year old Black man Terence Crutcher has died in Tulsa, Oklahoma after police officer Betty Shelby shot him. She had pulled him over after receiving reports of a vehicle blocking the road. Helicopter and dashboard video footage depicts the scene. Mr. Crutcher plainly shows his hands in the air, with helicopter dispatcher noting how he “looks like a bad dude, too.” Four officers crowd around Terrence and his vehicle, and unclear footage does not show exactly what he does (perhaps reach into his car, however other reports said the window was down) before Shelby shoots him. The man lays bleeding out on the ground for almost a minute, no police officers checking to see if he is alive until the very end of the video.
This event sparked outrage in the nation, with protests being held in Tulsa, organized by groups such as Black Lives Matter. The sister of Terence Crutcher commented in an interview, “That big, bad dude mattered.” The family wants Betty Shelby to be charged with first degree murder.
The death of Terence Crutcher has joined a long list of other unarmed Blacks being shot by white police officers. Every day, the number of hashtags continues to grow. Two days after the Tulsa shooting, another black male in California was shot by police for “disturbing traffic,” and it still remains unclear whether he had a weapon or not. What immediately angers the Black community concerning stories like these is that media outlets tend to skim over or completely ignore them, and in a few days the stories are forgotten to all but a few. In Terence’s case, the police officers who allowed the man to bleed out on the road for an extended amount of time are considered inhumane.
Large figures in pop culture and music, such as Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, have incorporated racial injustice in their music to make political statements. Yet, police brutality remains as a shadowed new story, covered with the thousands of hashtags people have already given out to different victims.
Although only 0.6% of the East Greenwich population identifies as African American, police brutality and discrimination is an issue that everyone needs to know about. As an African American, I can attest to how uncomfortable it makes people to mention any type of race issue in the world. Yet ignorance, in this case, is not bliss; ignoring the issue because of its supposed taboo will not make it go away. We have to be culturally aware of everything that happens arounds us, whether it be regarding something as prevalent as the next presidential debate or as overshadowed as Terence Crutcher.