During Monday night’s presidential debate, I want to hear Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump share their thoughts about a crisis that has gripped this republic: the continued shooting deaths of unarmed Black men by police.
The topic of Black men dying senselessly should be categorized as a national threat to public safety as once again America is witnessing unprecedented cases of police shooting Black men unnecessarily.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Officer Betty Shelby was charged last week with manslaughter in the first degree for the shooting of Terence Crutcher.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said at a press conference that Shelby was charged because she “reacted unreasonably” and became “emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”
Crutcher, 40, was shot and killed while his arms were raised as Shelby approached his SUV. The incident was caught on police helicopter and dashcam video.
“In the matter of the death of Terence Crutcher, I determine that the filing of the felony crime of manslaughter in the first degree against the Tulsa Police officer Betty Shelby is warranted,” Kunzweiler said.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, police are still trying to determine exactly why Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot and killed last week after he was approached by police while sitting in his car.
“It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands,” attorney Justin Bamberg said.
Police say they found a gun at the scene of the shooting, which they believe belonged to Scott. Police said they told Scott to drop the weapon moments before he was shot. The family of Scott, however, said Scott didn’t own a gun. Scott was married for 20 years and had seven children.
Attorneys representing the family say that Scott’s wife witnessed the shooting.
“Yes, it’s my understanding that his wife saw him get shot and killed, and that’s something she will never, ever forget,” attorney Justin Bamberg said at a press conference.
But Charlotte-Mecklenberg police Chief Kerr Putney, who is Black, told reporters last week that he that won’t release the video of the shooting because he doesn’t want to jeopardize the investigation. However, video has been released by both Scott’s wife and the police, neither of which definitively shows that Scott had a gun. North Carolina is an open-carry state but Putney is now saying Scott was also seen with marijuana and police approached his car for that reason along with the alleged weapon.
Clinton and Trump should address these issues head-on Monday night. They can take the initiative to raise the subject and speak candidly about this heinous trend and how, as president, they would be committed to ending the war on Black men and women.
Both candidates talked about the shootings last week, but what Black Americans need to hear is a compelling plan to stop them.
Trump, who has been courting Black voters the past few weeks, said it appeared that Crutcher “looked like he did everything you’re supposed to do. And he looked like a really good man.”
“This young officer, I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t know what she was thinking but I’m very, very troubled by that,” Trump said, calling it a “terrible situation.”
But Trump is also an advocate of the now-defunct “stop and frisk,” a controversial police policy that has resulted in the unwarranted confrontations with thousands of Black men over the years, which was also deemed unconstitutional.
Clinton, meanwhile, said the police shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina added two more names “to a long list of African-Americans killed by police officers. It’s unbearable and it needs to become intolerable.”
On the campaign trail, Clinton has often talked about ending gun violence and confronting police brutality. She has also campaigned with a Black female coalition called the “Mothers of the Movement,” who have called for an end to shootings of unarmed Black men.
We need to hear more details from both candidates about this horrific trend of police shootings during their face-to-face debates, starting Monday night.
If not now, when?
What do you think?