Justine Did Not Have to Die, but Neither Did Sandra


“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James Baldwin

Every time we collectively live through the horror of the police shooting black folks down or skipping off scott free into the sunset after committing such a heinous act, this quote comes to mind. However, the impetus for bringing that thought to me this morning wasn’t the loss of a black life it was the loss of a white one…or better yet, the emotion that followed the act.  

Last Saturday, Justine Damond, a 40 year old, unwed, baby mama of one, was gunned down by Mohamed Noor, a Minnesota police officer of Muslim descent.  Officer Noor was responding to a 911 call Ms. Damond placed to report a possible sexual assault taking place in the alley behind her house. Upon arriving at the scene, Noor shot Damond through the driver’s side window from the passenger seat.  THROUGH THE DRIVER’S SIDE WINDOW FROM THE PASSENGER SEAT.  That’s fucked up, G.  Apparently, a loud sound startled Noor and he was so scared, he shot across his seated partner.  Surprisingly, neither officer had their bodycams on at the time of the shooting, even though they are definitely supposed to.  

So while it’s unfortunate this happened to this seemingly law abiding woman – I say seemingly because the media hasn’t reported on the investigation into her background, which I am sure is coming – that’s not what had me all Baldwin this morning.  While rousing from my slumber, my ever present tv emitted the sounds from a press conference held in response to this event. Minnesota Police Chief Janee Harteau took to the podium to address the media and I jolted straight up when she said:

“This did not have to happen.  Justine did not have to die.”

I’ve NEVER in my <redacted> years on Earth, have heard a police chief say that a black victim of murder by cop did not have to die.  Never.  Not once.  I hear of their mental illness.  I hear of their criminal past acts.  I hear of their incarceration. I see the worst pictures of them featured in news reports.  I hear how they should have complied and just listened.  I hear they had guns, although I never see them produced.  I hear how the officer was scared.  I never hear how they did not have to die.  Ever.

Chief Harteau is right, you know?  Justine did not have to die…….

but neither did Sandra….

…or Eric

…or Charleena

…or Alton

…or Freddie

…or Rekia

…or Laquan

…or Tamir

…or Korryn

…or Michael

…or Philando 

…or the ones we march for, whose names disappear from the media, but not from our hearts and souls.  

I stay in a rage for them.  

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