Back when I was a kid, one of my Little League teammates was a notorious racist.
He was white, he threw hard, he ran fast and he used “nigger” quite a bit. I didn’t like him. Never liked him. He was a bully and a thug and an asshole.
Ultimately, he became a New York City police officer.
I thought of this tonight as I sat horrified and watched the above video, of a man named Walter Scott being shot by Michael T. Slager, a South Carolina police officer. In case you’re one of those people who presumes justification when a white officer shoots a black man, well, watch the entire clip. Then watch it again. Scott, age 50, was stopped for having a broken taillight. He apparently got out of his car and started running (he owes child support, and a relative said he was probably afraid of going to jail). Slager chased him, fired a Taser, hit him with the Taser, chased some more, then fired eight shots at an unarmed man running in the opposite direction.
Again, watch the video.
I am sickened. Not merely because Walter Scott died, either. No, I’m sickened because I’m pretty sure I know what a lot of white people are thinking. Namely, dude surely deserved it. Scott, you see, had a record. According to the New York Times, he has been arrested approximately 10 times, usually related to failed child support payments. He was, the paper wrote, “arrested in 1987 on assault and battery charges and convicted in 1991 of possession of a bludgeon.” So, naturally, Scott did something wrong here. If he’d just obeyed the law, he’d be alive. Why did he have a cracked light? Why did he run? This death is on him—not the officer, who was just doing his job. Him. Why are blacks arrested and killed so often? Because they violate laws. Right?
I don’t see how any African-American feels comfortable with this nation’s law enforcement. If you’re a parent with a son, or even a daughter, do you want them near cops? Do you want them calling cops for help? By now, there are just too many awful instances of unjustifiable things happening to people because of skin color.
My teammate was a racist. Now he’s a police officer.
And little changes.