Straight Talk with Ed Gray
During the recent six years, Dallasites have had the opportunity to witness firsthand social justice battles throughout the city involving police interactions. Most of these interactions have had tragic endings where innocents have been harmed.
Whether it was harmful, such as the body-slamming of teenaged girls by the McKinney Police Department, or life-ending as in the Jordan Edwards killing by Balch Springs Police Department, we as black people have exercised our constitutional rights as Americans, and the state has exercised its right to police. This policing sometimes is to our detriment, the police seem more interested in policing than serving when it comes to African-Americans.
For Botham Jean, it was not the right to assemble publicly, it was his right to live and enjoy a peaceful quiet night at home. Suddenly he was surprised by someone at his door. The visitor was in the guise of justice, a police officer in uniform. An all too short fatal encounter occurred, leaving another dead body.
These police actions generally have resulted in “not guilty” verdicts, except for Roy Oliver who received 15 years in the shooting death of Jordan Edwards. However, one act of justice cannot even the playing field. Amber Guyger will now exercise her privilege and protection as a former police officer. This protection has resulted in numerous “no bills” or “not guilty.”
Fired Police Officer Guyger has leaned on the shield as a symbol of police privilege. This is more than the occasional free coffee and donut. It is a pass to kill with no consequence. This privilege generally protects and shields police officers while exposing others. The attempts to demonize young Jordan Edwards and Botham Jean failed as they were above reproach.
Jordan Edwards and Botham Jean are symbolic of “Black excellence.” Many activists, recall the failed attempt to besmirch, Edwards character based on errant, misleading, nonfactual, police representation. Botham Jean likewise became a victim as well of police inspired media spin. Initial media reports did not portray him as what we all know him to be now.
Botham was an innocent man, resting in his living room, enjoying what he did not know was the last moments of his life. The police officer’s confused, and chaotic behavior is symbolic of police privilege. Perhaps Amber Guyger is not guilty of anything insidious. However, this non-consequential behavior, of which police do not answer, is not justice.
Sooner or later, we all must answer the door to the knock of justice. When the police came to the door of Botham Jean, they killed him. Justice should be administered equally, regardless of who is on either side of the door.
I am Ed Gray, and this is Straight Talk.
Ed Gray is a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on FBRN.net, can be reached at email@example.com. NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column.