Armed Security Guard Killed By Police For Doing Job While Black
I don't like guns. No need for a spoiler alert there. My chief opposition, among many, is that they get black people killed. It doesn't matter if we're a kid in public park or a brother in his own living room, a gun will Calgon away all our problems and replace them with a death certificate suitable for framing. The NRA, always eager to sell more murder machines, suggests the "solution" is for black people to have more guns themselves. We get shot for holding fake guns and real guns are at least twice as dangerous, so I'm not sure how this is good advice. Do they just want us to die?
Look at what happened to armed security guard Jemel Roberson. There was a ruckus early Sunday morning at Manny's Blue Room in Robbins, Illinois, just south of Chicago. Some drunks were asked to leave before any Simply Red lookalikes were hurt (I kid to dull the pain). Someone came back with a gun and opened fire. Roberson, 26, caught up outside with one of the men involved and pinned him to the ground, with a gun pointed at his back -- classic cop procedural move. Two police officers appeared at the scene and, according to witnesses, one of them fatally shot Roberson, who if you're keeping track was the wrong guy. They shot the wrong guy. "Oops" doesn't quite cut it.
"Everybody was screaming out, 'Security!' He was a security guard," [witness Adam] Harris said. "And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him."
I'm not sure it's the police's "job" to shoot any black man they see with a gun, one who in this case was clearly identified as a security guard. I mean ... it's not right? You'd tell me if it was, wouldn't you? Cops somehow manage to safely take into custody mass murderers who are white. They even took Dylann Roof out for a burger. Maybe crazy white boys would consider offering some online MasterClass on how to avoid getting shot by cops. I'd eagerly watch it right after Gordon Ramsay teaches me how to flambé without setting the house on fire.
Whenever the police kill a citizen who wasn't actually committing a crime, they scramble to put a sociopathic distance between themselves and the inconvenient dead human. Bonus points if they can blame the deceased for their own death and revise the narrative so the true victim is the still-living officer. Check this out from the police statement:
A Midlothian officer encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an officer-involved shooting. The subject the officer shot was later pronounced deceased at an area hospital, Chief Daniel Delaney of the Midlothian Police Department said.
What the hell is this? It reads like some racist Robert Frost poem: "An officer encountered two roads in the woods -- he shot the one that was black." Jesse L. Martin didn't spend nine years on "Law & Order" and however long on "The Flash" playing a TV cop for real cops to reflexively assume that any black man with a gun is a "bad guy with a gun." I'm not one of them, but a lot of black folks would like to help further the NRA's bullshit narrative that more guns make things better.
Last year, a black off-duty police officer in St. Louis went to help his fellow officers when he heard a commotion near his home. He had his service weapon drawn. They freaked out and ordered him to the ground. After recognizing him, they asked him to stand up and walk over to them. He was then shot by another officer arriving at the scene, who either didn't recognize him or owed him money.
The black cop in St. Louis was luckier than 25-year-old New York City police officer Omar J. Edwards, also black. A white officer shot and killed him on a Harlem street back in 2009. Edwards was in street clothes but had his service weapon out while in pursuit of a man who'd broken into his car. There are far too many of these stories.
Despite what Roberson's killer thought when he first saw him, Roberson was by most accounts an "upstanding guy," who played keyboards and drums at Chicago-area churches. He wanted to be a police officer someday. The father of a 9-month-old boy, Roberson was working security to afford a new apartment. Now, he'll never see his son's first Christmas.
The family has filed a federal lawsuit that calls Roberson's shooting "excessive and unreasonable." It's also too much of the same shit on a different day.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).