In the recent wake of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., another young black man has been killed by another white cop in the St. Louis area. On Oct. 8, Vonderrit D. Myers Jr., 18, was fatally shot seven times by a white St. Louis off-duty cop in the Shaw neighborhood, 16 miles from where Brown was murdered.
Police say Myers fired three shots at the officer before the six-year veteran shot back 17 times. Myers’ family and the community say he was unarmed. The officer’s name has yet to be revealed.
After all the pain and agony drilled into the souls of the black community from the prior years of injustice, it is hard to believe anything the police have to say.
Whether Myers was armed and fired first or not, there are legitimate questions to be asked: How did the two come in contact? How did the officer approach Myers? What actually led to shots being fired?
The life of yet another young black male has been taken away.
It continues to amaze me how episodes like the deaths of Myers, Brown and Trayvon Martin persist. I am amazed that legal actions have not been brought successfully against those cops for their unlawful behavior.
The adage that the system is set up to fail African Americans is proven. Regardless of a person’s social, economic or governmental status, no one should be exempt from being held to the same standards and punishments as a normal citizen when it comes to breaking the law. For far too long police officers have been getting away with murder and there must be a stop.
The relationship between police and the black community is only getting worse and cannot be changed if steps aren’t taken to alleviate or end these horrible events.
The courts would not need to be involved if police were to take different approaches when confronting an individual on the street, specifically an African American. Many times officers have unnecessarily escalated a situation, resulting in violence.
A black person’s fear of being confronted and possibly killed by an officer today is worse than ever. How can an officer expect someone to respect and cooperate with them if they have been known to take matters too far?
In Florida, the “Stand Your Ground” law allowed George Zimmerman, Martin’s killer, to walk free. That law enables a law enforcer to use any level of force if they “reasonably feel” they are in imminent and immediate threat of danger.
Even though many blacks who have been killed were found unarmed at the time of their murder, the law permits an officer to kill with no repercussions.
America needs a brand-new system that honestly serves its constitutional principles of treating everyone as equal, no matter a person’s skin color or socioeconomic measure.
Alton Pitre is a 23-year-old native of Los Angeles. Overcoming the streets and incarceration as a youth, he now serves as an ambassador for juvenile justice. Pitre currently is studying sociology at Morehouse College in Atlanta.