Once again, another unarmed Black man was shot and killed by the police. His crime? Running away. As articulated by The Washington Post:
A Pennsylvania police officer’s fatal shooting of a 17-year-old who police said had fled a car that the officer had pulled over Tuesday night in East Pittsburgh is drawing wide outcry, as video circulated showing the teenager gunned down as he appeared to run with his back to the officer.
As I watched the video, it reminded me of a hunter killing his prey. Although you are not supposed to run from the police, doing so should not result in your demise. Blacks oftentimes run from the police because we are scared, terrified for our lives. Historically, the police have not been there to protect and serve our communities, but rather to control. Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the tragic events that happened in East Pittsburgh. The sad reality is that Black lives appear not to matter. This is evidenced by the routine killing of unarmed persons of color.
What will it take for it to stop? We need to demand accountability and transparency in all facets of our criminal justice system. Contact your legislators, volunteer in your community, and spread the word about your efforts to effectuate change. Above all, never stop fighting for justice.
Melanie Bates is an attorney based in Washington, D.C. She has a passion for criminal justice reform and believes that poverty, lack of education, and other social issues should not feed the pipeline to prison. Through consistent advocacy, she desires to alleviate the factors that force many people to become a part of the criminal justice system. The views expressed here are her own.