Wed May 3, 2017
"It happened again, this time on a residential street in this working-class Dallas suburb. A police officer shot and killed a black teenager on Saturday night under questionable circumstances..."
On Saturday night, April 29, in Balch Springs, Texas, Jordan Edwards, a 15-year old Black freshman in high school, was shot in the head by Officer Roy Oliver as the car Jordan was riding in drove away from Oliver. Officer Oliver was responding to a 911 call from a neighbor reporting drunk teens at a party. Officer Oliver fired into a car filled with unarmed teenagers who posed no visible threat and had not been seen doing anything wrong. The official statement from the police says that the car pulled away despite verbal commands to stop. So the cop fired into the car. This is the country we live in.
Two of the other passengers in the car were Jordan's brothers, who watched him die—and were then reportedly treated like criminals by officers on the scene. Officer Oliver murdered Jordan Edwards. Officer Oliver has been fired—and now he needs to be charged and tried.
The day after the shooting, the Police Chief Jonathan Haber reported that the car was reversing down a street toward the officer in an “aggressive manner.” The next day he changed his story and said he "misspoke": the car was driving AWAY. (Aka he lied, and then realized there's dash cam footage). So there is a dead teenager, no weapon, no criminal activity, no credible threat to the officer's safety. And there's video. The most hopeful and naive among us might think "Well, THIS officer will certainly be convicted!" Right? Right...?
Yesterday brought an announcement from the federal government that should come as no surprise—but it should still make us furious. There will be no charges brought against the two white officers who killed Alton Sterling outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, LA, on July 5 2016. Despite cell phone video showing them shooting the unarmed 37 yr old man (whose crime was selling CDs and existing as a Black man) at close range, no charges will be brought. As director Ava DuVernay said on Twitter: "DOJ refusal to prosecute police who killed a black man on-camera informs other officers that you too can get away w/ murder."
Sessions and the DOJ will oversee the outcomes of a number of other cases, including those surrounding the deaths of Eric Garner and 12-year-old Tamir Rice—and any potential investigation into the shooting of Jordan Edwards and the Balch Springs PD. Jeff Sessions has made it clear that he thinks punishing entire police departments because of "one bad actor" is poor policy. Jeff Sessions has made it clear that he thinks police departments are under attack, and that all the scrutiny into their brutality, corruption, and murdering is "bad for morale." Jeff Sessions has made it clear that he is racist. THIS IS ALL REALLY F**KING DANGEROUS AND TERRIFYING.
So WHAT DO WE DO?!
1. Call/email the Balch Springs PD and demand that they launch a full investigation into the murder of Jordan Edwards.
Public Information Officer: 972-557-6012
Police Chief: firstname.lastname@example.org
"I am calling/writing because I am devastated by the shooting of Jordan Edwards by Officer Roy Oliver. The entire country--and much of the world--is now watching your department, hoping for justice. You must launch a full, transparent investigation and bring criminal charges against this officer, and you must take immediate steps to increase training in your department and to reconcile with your community, especially the young people of color who are traumatized and afraid. If you want to ever restore trust and respect, you must treat this as a the crime that it is."
2. Call/email the DOJ and let them know that they must behave like a DEPARTMENT OF ACTUAL JUSTICE
"Your failure to bring charges against the officers who murdered Alton Sterling sends a devastating message to Black and Brown Americans, and a dangerous message to police, who have yet another guarantee that they can shoot and kill innocent citizens with impunity. You MUST act to protect all Americans. You must bring charges against the officers who killed Eric Garner, and the ones who killed Tamir Rice, an innocent child. And you MUST investigate the killing of 15 year old Jordan Edwards. What kind of country allows its police to shoot and kill unarmed children? How can you call yourself a Department of Justice if you do not bring charges against these officers?"
3. Send a card of love + support to Jordan's high school, where students and staff are mourning this immense loss. Let them know that there are people out there who do care, and who will fight for #JusticeForJordan
MESQUITE HIGH SCHOOL
300 E DAVIS ST, MESQUITE, TX 75149
4. Support the family of Jordan Edwards. This is the verified GoFundMe page: https://www.youcaring.com/odellandcharmaineedwards-813738
5. Reach out to your friends and community, and talk to them about police brutality. Talk to them about what's at stake when we call 911 on someone—especially those most likely to be the targets of police violence: people of color, young people, the mentally ill. Talk to your NEIGHBORS about what to do if they see someone "suspicious"—how can communities stay safe while minimizing the potential for harm and police violence? Reach out to your friends who are the parents of young Black men and women—if you are NOT the parent of a young Black or Brown person, consider the fear and fury you feel over this, and then multiply it by 100000. If you have teens in your life, talk to them about their rights, but also talk about police protocol—what to do when confronted, how to keep yourself and others safe. Talk to white teens about being conscious of their privilege in the presence of police, and how their behaviors might impact friends of color that they're with.
There is so much more to be done—this is a start, an attempt. I welcome additional ideas, actions, suggestions in the comments.