“Not again. How many more people have to die before something is done to stop this?”
This was the initial thought when news broke that 50 year old Walter Scott was shot several times in the back whilst fleeing from a police officer in North Charleston.
Originally stopped because of a broken brake light, it’s been said in reports that Scott had owed child support money and was afraid of going to jail as a result of that. He ran away from Michael Slager, the officer in question, and was chased and then shot. He died as a result of Slager’s actions.
Slager had cited that he shot Scott out of self defence. Apparently, Scott had taken his taser and he was “fearful for his life.”
But unlike the shooting in Ferguson of 18 year old Michael Brown, extraordinary video footage emerged, which allowed the world to see what really happened. Contrary to Slager’s story, the footage showed Scott running away, not at all posing a threat to Slager.
I reluctantly watched the video and was further disgusted to see that Slager went so far to handcuff Scott as he laid there face down and motionless.
On Saturday, large crowds took to the streets for Scotts funeral. The venue, chosen by the family, quickly reached capacity, with mourners spilling out on to the porch and streets, huddled under umbrellas to shield themselves from the pouring rain.
One mourner reportedly said: “I am so sorry that this had to happen this way. But I hope that this can close the gap between the police department and the communities, that they can learn to recognise each other as citizens. I’m hoping and praying that it doesn’t happen again.”
The issue of racism and tension between police and African American communities have been rising over the last few months. It seems as though just as we digest the death of one individual, another is named in the news, once again killed by a police officer.
If this footage hadn’t come to light, there is every chance that Michael Slager would have walked away without as much as a warning to his record. This potential outcome really disturbed me. Even though I’m not based in the US, the thought of people abusing their power in such a way makes it a very unsafe environment for civilians.
To think we have to rely on our personal smartphones and cameras in order to make sure justice is served is a scary thing. Rather than have confidence in the law and judicial system, it’s never been more important to be able to back yourself up using technology. Calls for police officers wearing cameras whilst on duty have been garnering support given the number of recent deaths of African American men. As highlighted by the press and on social media, these deaths have been at the hands of white police officers.
Now, I’m not saying that all police officers are racist. But if wearing a camera means we catch individuals who abuse their power and commit crimes that are racially motivated, we should all be supportive of this. Law enforcement has no problem in monitoring us through CCTV and it’s high time that a significant focus is firmly fixed on them.
This isn’t usually a subject that gets mentioned much on this blog. But given the level of deceit and just how easily Walter’s death could have been brushed under a rug, you can’t help but want to speak out and encourage people to take up a vested interest in worldly affairs and how our own society is progressing.
Last week on April 9th marked a significant event in American history which led to the end of the civil war and the abolition of slavery. It’s an event that should have been celebrated and remembered. However, the people in North Charleston were coming to terms with an untimely death and will likely be waiting to see whether justice is really served.