Cry “racial injustice” even when none exists. That might be the motto of protesters who marched in Detroit on Saturday, outraged over the latest death of a black man at the hands of police the day before. The brother of the shooting victim has demanded a meeting with chief of police and mayor while a group that calls itself Detroit Will Breathe is planing more protests even though police brutality and excessive force were not present in this incident.
Here is what went down Friday. Police were arresting an unidentified individual suspected of being involved in a Fourth of July shooting that left five people hurt and three others dead when 19-year-old Hakim Littleton opened fire on them. It’s unclear whether Littleton was involved with the suspect, though it seems unlikely since if he were the arresting officers would have frisked him and discovered his weapon. In any case police returned fire, killing Littleton.
The dash cam video, which appears below, clearly shows Littleton, wearing a red shirt, lift and fire his weapon at police. (Warning: Graphic conent)
Littleton’s older brother, Rashad Littleton-Shafer, is quoted by The Detroit News as having said, “My brother was a good, good man.” But “good, good men” don’t shoot at police for doing the job they are paid to do. Nakia Renne Wallace, an organizer of Detroit Will Breathe, issued a statement accusing Detroit Police of not having released dash and bodycam footage of the shooting in a timely enough manner. But the surveillance video was made available within 24 hours!
Wallace also complained that “instead of engaging with the crowd by sending someone to talk to people … DPD sent police in riot gear marching through the neighborhood to intimidate the crowd, ram them with shields, beat them with batons, and blind them with pepper spray.” What she failed to mention is that the only push-back by the police occurred on Friday after some 300 protesters who had gathered for an impromptu protest threw bottles, bricks, and other projectiles at officers.
Is there racism in this country? Yes. Are some police killings unjustified? Yes. But automatically ascribing racism as the motivation for the death of a black person at the hands of police is madness. Unless the nation can get past that knee-jerk reaction, we are in for a long, hot summer.