Korryn Gaines becomes another victim and hashtag in the movement for Black Lives.
Yesterday, I reported on a case of police brutality coming out of San Francisco involving BART police. The incident occurred this past Sunday. The victim in question is said to have warranted the brutal tactics inflicted on him — wrestled to the ground and kneed in the back — because he was an alleged robber.
It was a clear case of excessive force. He was humiliated. He was physically abused. But, thankfully and luckily, he lived.
Baltimore resident Korryn Gaines wasn’t so lucky. On Monday, the 23-year-old black mother and cosmetologist was killed by Baltimore police in front of her 5-year-old son after an hours-long standoff. The names of the officers who pulled the trigger have not been released. And, as of yet, there is no video footage to corroborate the police department’s official story.
The events preceding the shooting are even more troublesome. Based on reports, at 9:20 a.m. Monday, three officers approached served Gaines an arrest warrant for minor traffic violations and misdemeanors.
The situation quickly escalated from there.
According to Vox, police claimed that:
“Gaines barricaded herself with a shotgun at an apartment. For hours, police said they tried to talk her down. But, they said, Gaines repeatedly threatened the police and aimed her gun at them. At around 3 p.m., she allegedly said, ‘If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.'”
What happened at that point?
One officer discharged his weapon. Gaines followed in kind. This led police to open fire on Gaines.
What’s clear is that it was the officers who fired first. Equally clear is that, at the end of it all, a mother is dead and her 5-year-old son is motherless and hospitalized after being shot in the leg in the crossfire.
What follows next is the standard fare of the times and the underlining motivation behind the outrage felt and expressed and hammered home by Black people in every state of the country.
The Baltimore Police Department will place the accused officer on administrative leave and open an investigation. BPD will rationalize away the shooting as “justifiable homicide” and say the officer’s life was threatened. Since we have no video footage of the incident to show what occurred, it’s highly unlikely the officer will be charged and prosecuted.
There will be no conviction. There will be no justice. There will be no peace.
Still, some of you will say she deserved it. Some of you will say she had no business pointing her shotgun at police. Some of you will say she should have known better than to square off with officers.
None of those reasons align with Black history, or with what the numbers tell us about the facts of the contemporary moment.
The highest percentage of suspects killed are unarmed Black people. And, the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile prove that even in open-carry states like Lousiana and Minnesota Black people are still likely to be killed.
If you’re still left unconvinced by these facts, consider that white suspects, as recently as last month, have pointed guns at police officers and lived to tell the tale. I reported on one such case here, of one William Bruce Ray, who shot at officers but was apprehended by said officers without so much as one officer returning fire at him or without so much as accruing one scratch.
When all this information is factored in, claiming that Korryn Gaines deserved to die or should have known better is as nonsensical and hypocritical as it is cold-blooded. Such statements have white privilege written all over them.
Korryn Gaines didn’t deserve to die. She didn’t deserve to witness a squad of officers converging on her door over a warrant for petty criminal offenses. She deserved the same compassion and heartfelt attempts to help her as all the white men still standing following similar standoffs.