What If…

By SEBASTIAN SANCHEZ

The same police sirens blare out into the air. The same, yellow crime tape is placed around the scene, marking yet another tragedy in American society. The media picks up the same stories.

But that is often where the similarities end.

Police officers seem to have preconceived notions as black and brown people are villainized in the media. Their lives are expendable. My life, in a sense, seems less important than my white counterparts. Here’s how…

On February 14th — Valentine’s day, an international day of love and affection — a school in Florida was the target of a gruesome, deadly and senseless attack.

It was a safe haven for students, a place to master the disciplines of science and math, English and history; a place they came to develop relationships and one day, hopefully, go to college.

17 students were not going to college; 15 were wounded, left with physical and physiological scars. A community destroyed in a matter of minutes by the hailing bullets of Nikolas Cruz’s AR-15.

The details trickled out.

The FBI received a tip last year about a YouTube comment that could have linked suspicious activity to Nikolas Cruz. No actions were taken.

The security guard, trained and armed to respond to this kind of attack, never entered the building to stop the massacre. Instead, he sought cover outside as young teenagers lost their lives.

After leaving a trail of blood and bodies, Cruz discarded his rifle, camouflaging with fleeing students and got away. After escaping, he walked to Walmart, bought a drink at Subway and even stopped at a McDonalds.

He was arrested at 3:41pm, an hour and thirty minutes after his mass murder  — one of the deadliest in American history.

Two seconds is how long police officers took to fire on Tamir Rice, a 12-year playing with a toy gun, when they arrived on the scene.

The officer who shot Laquan McDonald 14 times was on the scene less than 30 seconds before opening fire on the young teenger.

After Parkland, the President of the United States said he would work with the nation’s governor, tweeting he would “Help secure our schools and [tackle] the difficult issue of mental health…” He made no mention of gun violence.

The same President sits in his oval office twitter fingers twitching, screaming to his followers after a raid on his personal lawyer’s office:

“It’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

Mr. President, what the actual f*** are you talking about?

Where was your denunciation of Nikolas Cruz and his disgraceful attack against his fellow classmates with an AR-15 that left 17 dead?

Here’s another scenario.

Three years ago Dylan Roof opened fire on a historical all-black church in South Carolina. He killed nine in cold-blood. At 9:30pm on June 17th, he walked away from the massacre.

He told authorities that he “had to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go.” He wanted to start a race war. After killing the black church-goers, he calmly walks from the scene.

He was arrested by authorities at a stop light at 10:44 am on June 18th, 245 miles from the scene. No shots were fired. A .45 caliber was found in the car. He was given a bulletproof vest, for his safety. According to several sources, an officer bought him a hamburger because he was hungry.

Looking at these scenarios, I can’t help but think of all the black men and women who have died at the hands of police, many of them in custody, while these two criminals continue to live. While they are behind bars, they have the luxury of breathing, eating and sleeping.

If either one of these men were black, Muslim or Latino, they would have been killed instantly. Arresting him “nicely?” That option would never exist. If they were hungry, officers would most certainly not buy them a cheeseburger.

They would be labeled thugs and criminals. Rapists. Bad hombres. Terrorists unfit for American society.

But why?

Well, it’s simple.

The treatment of the white body in custody is astonishingly lenient, and in comparison to the treatment of the black of body in custody, it is treated royally. They are two bodies in the same space, with totally different treatment.

If Dylan Roof had been black, he’d probably be gunned down on sight. If Nikolas Cruz was a shade darker, the security guard may have shot him right away. Neither would have been spared, I guarantee you that — police officers have proved my hypothesis correct.

On March 18th, Stephon Clark was not spared.

Calls went out to the Sacramento Police department that someone was breaking windows in the Meadowview neighborhood. Clark, a 22-year old African American man stood in his grandmother’s backyard, heading home to his daughters.

Officers emerged unannounced from the depths of darkness. Clark started running. Maybe out of fear.

Police chased him. He turned, hands outstretched. Fearing for their safety, police opened fire. They had been on the scene for less than 20 seconds.

They shot him twenty times.

Twenty Times.

A 21st century execution.

No CPR was administered. For five minutes, he lay on the ground bleeding from eight gunshots wounds. As the life seeped out of him, officers screamed to see his hands. They eventually handcuffed him.

He probably had a weapon on him right?

He did not.

His only “weapon,”a cell phone.

Why couldn’t they use a taser? What if they fired once? How about warning shots?

These officers should try to learn from their European counterparts. Most officers across The Pond carry out their duties without a gun. They rely on things that can still subdue a suspect — mace, batons and the occupational Tasers. I even read at times they will throw heavy fishing nets to overpower suspects. Can America’s police force control its trigger fingers?

When it comes to black and brown people in America, police officers shoot to kill.

Dylan Roof, who had killed nine people out of hatred and Nikolas Cruz, who opened fire on his classmates, killing 17, were not fired upon once. Both are white.

If he was white, Stephon Clark would likely still be alive. Officers would have asked to see his hands, “slowly get on the ground.” If he was white, his daughters would wake up to see him. Instead they are attending his funeral.

If Tamir Rice was white, the police officers would have coaxed the toy gun from his tiny 12-year old hands as he played with it on that wintry, Cleveland day.

If Philando Castile, who was exercising his Second Amendment right, was white, the officer would have respected his right to carry. Castile, explicitly said, “I have a firearm in the glove compartment,” and was shot anyways. His girlfriend and her daughter were witnesses of his murder.

If Laquan McDonald was white he almost surely would have been subdued by police officers carefully. Not a single round would have been fired. They’d calmly ask him to the concrete sidewalk. Instead he was shot sixteen times, several bullets penetrating his body as he lay on the ground, the life seeping out of him.

Freddie Gray in 2015 was arrested and placed into custody on a Baltimore street corner. So of course he was treated the same as Dylan Roof and Nikolas Cruz, right?

No. Instead of a safety vest, Freddie Gray was given a broken spinal cord on the way to the police station. He fell into a coma and later died from his injuries.

This piece originally appeared in the online publication Blurring Boundaries.

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