The recent killing of Terrence Franklin by Minneapolis police by shooting him in the back of the head five times and in the back twice fits the pattern of police abuse of their powers. Those of us who have been around or haven’t been lulled to sleep by talk of color blindness in our society know in our hearts that on occasion the cops abuse Black people in general and people of color in specific.
We don’t know exactly what happened in that South Minneapolis basement, but I do know that the story the cops slipped to the Minneapolis Star Tribune does not make sense. It’s one of the most contrived and imaginative of all the grand and tall tales cops have spun to try to make their crimes sound reasonable.
In other words, they are lying! Their story does not explain how Terrance wound up with five bullet holes in the back of the head and two in his back and one under his arm.
Yes, young Terrance was shot in the back. His being shot does not match the cops’ inventive story of him grabbing the cop’s submachine gun and definitely doesn’t match Officer Lucas Petterson saying he jumped in front of Terrance and took a bullet and then shot Terrance.
Again, to be clear, it doesn’t make sense because it’s not the truth. We may never know the absolute, full truth. But we do know Terrance was hiding in a basement without a gun or weapon of any kind (even the cops have admitted this), and the police went in after him.
They came out alive and he wound up dead, shot in his back and in the back of the head. And as the lawyer for the family has said, the police are trying to put the responsibility of his death on the dead victim, who can’t tell his side of the story.
And not only are the cops lying — they have committed a crime. That’s right. This was a crime.
We live in a supposed nation of laws. We respect the rule of law. The Constitution acknowledges that, as citizens and human beings, we are” endowed with certain unalienable rights” that include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That is why vigilantism is outlawed and frowned upon. The law does not allow those in uniform or out of uniform or regular citizens to kill or brutalize or attack citizens for that reason.
Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the U.S. guarantees us “equal protection under the law.” What that means is that the State, that is the nation, this nation, has said that it has an obligation to protect you from vigilantism and from those who would do you bodily harm or violate your person or property in any way.
Therefore, even if the police kill you, they have violated your rights. And the State has an obligation to enforce the law and bring them to justice.
But on occasion the police take the law into their own hands because they understand that at bottom their job is to remind us of our place in society. They hit us with their sticks and sometimes shoot us with their guns, and they sometimes kill us. Because their real reason for their existence is to protect and serve the rich, the propertied, to reinforce the unequal relations and inequities of our society.
This is why they beat and are unfriendly to striking workers, because they are on the side of the bosses. This is why they beat up on and harass Black people, to reinforce the so-called second-class status of Black people.
It’s why they beat women on occasion to keep them in their place, so to speak. It’s why they beat up immigrants and harass them. It’s also why they beat up and hassled and sprayed mace in the face of young Whites who took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests last year. It’s why they took the side of the big banks when young activists tried to defend homeowners from unlawful, illegal and immoral foreclosures.
Officer Friendly is an aberration, a smokescreen to hide the real role of the police. And yes, there are nice people in uniform, but they are part of an organization and institution that at bottom has a foul purpose.
In the Trayvon Martin case, the State has an obligation to investigate how he was killed, and if he was murdered they have an obligation to bring his murderer to justice. Terrance’s case is similar because the onus is on the State to satisfy the needs of the people for justice.
Clearly Terrance’s right to life was violated in that basement. The cops not only violated the laws of the land with their vigilantism (the law says we are all innocent until proven guilty and that we have a right to a trial by jury); they also violated the laws of God, Who grants us ultimately the right to life.
Justice and righteousness demand that all well-meaning citizens of the Twin Cities stand with those who are demanding that the police who killed Terrance Franklin be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law! Join us Thursday, June 13 at 6 pm on the steps of Minneapolis City Hall.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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