I want to thank my Afrosphere fam, Rock, of African American Political Pundit, for hipping me to the following story. And Howard Witt, one of the best and most fearless reporters in A-merry-ca, for breaking it. (Witt was the man primarily responsible for exposing the corrupt DA in Jena)
"HOMER, La.—On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home on Adams Street in this small northern Louisiana town. Throat cancer had robbed the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker of his voice years ago, but family members said Monroe was clearly enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting around him in the dusty, grassless yard. Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family gathering to quickly fall silent.Within moments, Monroe lay dead, shot by one of the officers as his family looked on.
Now the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department are swarming over this impoverished lumber town of 3,800, drawn by the allegations of numerous witnesses that police killed an unarmed, elderly black man without justification—and then moved a gun to make it look like the man had been holding it."We are closely monitoring the events in Homer," said Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. "I understand that a number of allegations are being made that, if true, would be serious enough for us to follow up on very quickly."Yet the Feb. 20 Homer incident was not an isolated case. Across the nation, in four cases in recent months, white police officers have been accused of unprovoked shootings of African Americans in what civil rights leaders say are illustrations of the potentially deadly consequences of racial profiling by police.
In the mostly white Houston suburb of Bellaire, a 23-year-old black man sitting in his own SUV in the driveway of his parents' home was shot and wounded on New Year's Eve by police who mistakenly believed he had stolen the vehicle. The case is under investigation.In Oakland, a transit police officer has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed black man in the back while he was restrained and lying face down on a train platform on New Year's Day. In New Orleans, nine police officers are under investigation in the New Year's Day death of a 22-year-old black man who was struck by 14 bullets after an undercover team stopped his car. The police say the man raised a gun and fired at them, but the man's family disputes that."All the anecdotal information demonstrates that African Americans are the most frequent victims of zealous, inappropriate police activity that often winds up in a shooting," said Reggie Shuford, a senior attorney with the racial justice program at the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's a shoot first, ask questions later approach to policing."The evidence is not merely anecdotal. The most recent national analysis from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that blacks and Hispanics were nearly three times as likely as whites to be searched by police—and blacks were almost four times as likely as whites to be subjected to the use of force.
Psychologists are stepping up research into the implicit, unconscious racial biases that may be driving such statistics and affecting police behavior."If in fact police have implicit biases—if they automatically associate blacks with crime—then that would be relevant to an officer in a split-second, shoot-or-don't-shoot situation," said Lorie Fridell, a criminology professor at the University of South Florida who is creating a new anti-bias police training program with funding from the Justice Department. "Is the officer more inclined to believe he sees a gun in the hand of a black person, rather than a cell phone? I think that is possible."In Monroe's case, friends and family members say they still don't understand why the beloved neighborhood patriarch ended up dead. Four witnesses told the Tribune that Monroe was sitting outside his home in the late afternoon of Feb. 20, clutching a large sports-drink bottle, when two police officers pulled up and summoned Monroe's son, Shawn, for a conversation. Shawn Monroe has a long record of arrests and convictions for assault and battery, and even though he was not wanted on any current warrants, he took off running into the house. One of the officers, a new hire named Tim Cox who had been on Homer's police force for only a few weeks, chased after him, reappearing moments later in the doorway. Meanwhile, the witnesses said, the elder Monroe had started walking toward the front door, carrying only his drink bottle, to try to intervene. When Monroe got to the first step on the front porch, the witnesses said, Cox opened fire, striking him several times as adults and children stood nearby."He just shot him through the screen door," said Denise Nicholson, a family friend who said she was standing a few feet from Monroe. "After [Monroe] was on the ground, we kept asking the officer to call an ambulance, but all he did was get on his radio and say, 'Officer in distress.' "As Monroe lay dying, the witnesses said, the second police officer, who has not been publicly identified, picked up a handgun that Monroe, an avid hunter, always kept in plain sight on the porch for protection. Using a police-issue blue latex glove, the officer grasped the gun by its handle, the witnesses said, and then ordered everyone to back away from the scene. The next thing they said they saw was the gun on the ground next to Monroe's body."I saw him pick up the gun off the porch," said Marcus Frazier, another witness. "I said, 'What are you doing?' The cop told me, 'Shut the hell up, you don't know what you're talking about.' "
The Homer police maintain that Monroe was holding a loaded gun when he was shot, but they are not commenting further on the case. At least one fact surrounding the shooting is not in dispute: It took place amid long-standing tensions between Homer police and the residents of Monroe's crime-plagued black neighborhood."People here are afraid of the police," said Terry Willis, vice president of the Homer NAACP branch. "They harass black people, they stop people for no reason and rough them up without charging them with anything."'
Oh field, you are such a racism chaser. If the man's grandson wasn't such a bad ass he would be alive today. Come on field, he lived in a bad neighborhood, what are good decent law enforcement folks supposed to do? Yeah I know he was supposed to be 73, but you know how you black people always look younger than your age. What is that saying? "Black don't crack".
"If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names," said Mills, who is white. "I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested. We're not out there trying to abuse and harass people—we're trying to protect the law-abiding citizens locked behind their doors in fear."
Yeah okay there officer, if you say so. Seriously, most of you know that I defend the boyz in blue who protect honest law abiding citizens in cities like Philadelphia. To me, they are the best protection I have against the scumbags who would bring harm to me or my property. And I mourn with the rest of the community when one of them is killed in the line of duty. Most police officers are good decent people. But just like society at large, there are ignorant knuckle dragging racist in their ranks, and these individuals should be weeded out. If they are not, Howard Witt is going to be a very busy man for many years to come.