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Police Brutality, Racism and Loss of Black Lives

Botham Shem Jean and Joshua Brown were neighbors and briefly met before Jean’s untimely death Sept. 6, 2018. Jean was an active church member and Borwn was “studying interdisciplinary science at the University of South Florida,” as stated on CNN report. (L) Photo of Jean from The New York Times. (R) Photo of Joshua Brown from WUSF News Public Media.

Botham Shem Jean was an avid churchgoer and a 26-year-old accountant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. According to CBS 11 News, he was a church singer and beloved church member at Dallas West Church of Christ.

Only a few weeks shy of his 27th birthday, Jean was murdered while eating ice cream on his couch Sept. 6, 2018. A White female ex-cop and convicted murder, Amber Guyger, 31, entered Jean’s apartment and fatally shot him in the chest.

The Washington Post reported, “Guyger claimed she thought she was entering her own third-floor apartment that night. She said she mistook Jean for a burglar and shot him, fearing for her life.”

Over one year later, Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison Oct. 2, but originally faced up to 99 years, according to ABC News. After the sentence, many media outlets (ABC News, NPR, The Guardian, CNN and USA Today) reported Guyger received a hug from Brandt Jean, 18, Botham’s brother. The young man also forgave Guyger for murdering his brother. Then Judge Tammy Kemp embraced Guyger and gave her a Bible. This sparked debate and outrage.

For many, Amber Guyger’s sentence did not equate for taking a life. Even the after Jean’s brother and Judge Kemp forgave her, it seemed like an additional insult to the Black community and the daily racial struggles they experience. Then the judge brushed off the complaints and said it was the Christian thing to do; but as stated in The Root, “Critics said the hug diminished the gravity of Guyger’s crime, that of the murder of an unarmed black man by a law enforcement officer.

This is a common reality for Blacks in America, who may be in constant fear of being murder during something as simple as a traffic stop. Hugs and forgiveness will not stop police brutality and the concept of racism is endemic to society. Issac Bailey, a journalist from South Carolina and the Batten Professor for Communication Studies at Davidson College, wrote an opinion piece if the racial roles were switched:

Had a young black man with a history of saying racist things about white people shot and killed a white police officer in her own home, he likely would not have gotten hugs from a white judge, a hair rub from a white police officer in the courtroom and been granted a kind of absolution by the white cop’s brother. Instead of being sentenced to 10 years, he would have likely been sent to prison for the rest of his life, if not to death row.

Given the racial history of police brutality the U.S., it is likely this scenario would occur. America has a notorious history of showing a lack of empathy for Blacks and all racially marginalized groups, whether they are the victim or perpetrator. For example, CBS News reported Marissa Alexander, a Florida mom, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband. According to her website, Alexander spent three years in prison and 65 days in Duval County Jail. She was officially released in January 2017.

Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones and many more have been victims of police brutality as well, with minimal to zero punishments for the perpetrators, which were White police officers. One name was added to this rapidly growing list of unarmed Blacks being murdered by the police, Botham Shem Jean.

Unfortunately, tragedy did not stop there. Ten days later, Joshua Brown, a witness in the murder trial of Amber Guyger, was murdered. According to a CNN report, Dallas police officers were called around 10:30 p.m. Oct. 4. He was a key witness in the trial because his apartment was across from Jean. In his testimony, Brown arrived and saw Guyger enter the hallway after shooting Jean. He discussed her phone conversation that followed the murder.

Later, Brown tearfully stated Jean “could have been him.” Brown “lived in constant fear of gun violence, and that’s why he was emotional on the witness stand during the trial.” At the time of his death, Brown was found about 4 miles from his apartment with multiple gunshot wounds in a parking lot and pronounce dead at a local hospital.

The post volume revolving around Brown’s murder was 142,000 on Oct. 8. Photos from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media Studio.

Unfortunately, Brown’s fear became a reality on Oct. 4 when he was murdered 10 days after his testimony. The post volume surround Brown’s murder was 142,000 with 61.9 percent of posts from the U.S. There was a negative 97.4 percent sentiment score.

According to NBC News, Dallas police arrested Jacquerious Mitchell, 20, Michael Mitchell, 32, and Thaddeous Green, 22 Oct. 8 for the murder of Brown. Apparently, the three men drove from Alexandria, Louisiana purchasing drugs from Brown.

However, some speculate Brown’s murder may be connected with his testimony since his death occurred two days after Guyger sentence.

Many social media users speculated Brown’s death was connected to his testimony in Guyger’s trial. The words “foul,” mysteriously,” “known” and “enemies” were trending most in relation to Brown’s death. Both photos from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media Studio.