Why are so many Black men dying?



By Terry Yzaguirre

Guest Commentator


As I arrived at the homicide scene on 21st and Penn Avenue North in Minneapolis on August 18at about 9 am, the crime lab was still working on the bullet holes on the exterior of the home after a shooting occurred around 3 am leaving one man dead and another wounded.

Except for a group of about five people, the streets were desolate. The Black community’s radio station KMOJ located just down the street had no one present to update its listeners to the latest brother shot down. If the Black press in Minneapolis does not give a damn when a brother, sister, or our children are murdered, then why should anyone else?

As I continued to monitor the scene, two female medical examiners carrying the blue body bag of the deceased walked out the front door. I gasped out loud as to how they were handling the body. They were barely able to carry it, and it was visibly clear that they were struggling with the weight.

I thought they were going to drop him. They ended up plopping him on the boulevard like garbage until they got the gurney, placing him on it to load him into the vehicle. Witnessing this disturbed me as I felt that they could have given this homicide victim a little bit more respect on how his body was removed.

The day was not over though, as another Black man would be shot and killed. Thirteen hours later at 10 pm August 18, as the rain started falling, I headed to the next homicide scene that had just occurred an hour earlier at 9 pm in South Minneapolis at 22nd and Portland and ending up at 21st and Fifth Avenue inside of an apartment building. I wondered as I was driving how the crime lab was going to handle the scene before the blood trails would be washed away.

When I arrived at Portland and Franklin Avenue S., the street was blocked off and the apartment building on Fifth Avenue was taped off as well. Like earlier that morning, no people, no news cameras.

Why are so many Black men dying? Why are the murders in our Black community treated so silently? If anything is written, it is done with a poison pen as though they deserved the outcome of their short-lived lives.

Why is it when a drunk driver kills people, we treat it so differently than when a Black person is murdered? Drunks kill much more than Black people. The victims of drunk drivers are treated with respect, and the drunks who killed them in some cases are made out to be saints in everyday life.

When a victim of a drunk driver is killed, they do not publish a past criminal history as they do with Black people who are murdered. Quite frankly, I don’t know what the difference is, being killed by a car or a bullet. In both cases people die. The difference is that alcohol is the social drug that is accepted in society no matter how many lives it destroys.

What does it say when a cat who was tortured, burned and staked to a tree last week in South Minneapolis has a $1,000 reward issued for any information on who did this horrendous act less then 24 hours after the incident took place? Granted, an Obama sign was placed next to this poor animal, so it has turned into a possible political whodunit. Yet know one seems to ask out loud if it could be a hate crime.

We do not offer rewards that quick when someone from the Black community is killed, if one is offered at all. When three-year-old Terrell Mayes was killed inside his home by a stray bullet the day after Christmas last year, it took an uproar for the reward to be raised above $1,000 for any information on the killing of this child.

What does it say about us as a society when a cat gets more sympathy and attention then an African American life?

Maybe those who claim to care about civil rights better start stepping up. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not live and die for change so that we in 2012 could watch the hands of time turn backwards to a more silent, uglier version of what he fought so hard for.


Terry Yzaguirre lives in South Minneapolis.