People are saddened and frustrated by this week’s shooting of Charles Kinsey, a caretaker based in Miami, by a police officer. Kinsey followed a patient at the mental health center where he works, as the patient had wandered outside.
Once outside, the pair sat on the ground, Kinsey watching as the patient played with a toy truck. The next thing he knew, he was shot. He and his patient were being patted down by cops. Kinsey was flipped over and handcuffed. No weapon was found on the scene.More: Why the Dallas police chief’s speech is making people of color cringe
It’s completely apparent from the released cellphone video that Kinsey was unarmed and nonthreatening, and yet he was still shot by one of the cop’s three fired bullets. Many, including Kinsey’s wife, Joyce, are relieved that Kinsey lived to tell the tale but remain disillusioned by the continued shooting of black people by law enforcement.
You would think that by now we would have a solution to these shootings. Time after time, we see people of color, specifically black people, shot one or dozens of times by cops who often claim they “feared for their lives.” But what is so inherently scary about black people that even if there is no weapon in sight, they still end up being shot and, sometimes, killed? It’s so hard to not question the role of law enforcement as it currently is in our society, especially when the people who are supposed to be protecting all of us seem to be really struggling to do their jobs.More: The problem with Melania Trump’s RNC speech no one is talking about
Despite being shot, Kinsey even said he was more worried about his patient than he was about himself. And can you blame him? The brave man was just doing his job, and he was shot. When you take into account the way people with mental illnesses and disabilities are treated by law enforcement, it becomes clear that there is an increased likelihood of violence on behalf of cops when mental illness comes into play, as people with mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. So naturally he was really freaked out for his autistic patient, the man he was responsible for caring for, even as he was handcuffed.When Kinsey asked the officer why he was shot, the cop responded that he didn’t know.
This simple response has many people absolutely horrified today, as we wonder what in the world could push a cop — a trained, supposed-to-protect-and-serve cop — to shoot a man without even knowing why. But we know, don’t we? Because institutionalized racism is real, and like it or not, it’s time to push for a change.
We all have the right to live our lives without being in fear of the people who are supposed to protect us, and Kinsey becomes yet another example of the fact that many in our society live very much in fear of being shot without reason.
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