By Southwester Staff
“The Southwester” prides itself as being a voice in the Southwest community – “Serving the Waterfront Communities of Southwest and Navy Yard,” and due to the events of the past two weeks, we must formally speak out.
Last week, the nation watched in horror as a white police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. His fellow officers either assisted or stood by indifferently and did nothing. Floyd was handcuffed and pinned down on the cement while he pleaded for his life, for his deceased mother, and while witnesses to his murder pleaded with officers. Those cries for mercy fell on deaf ears until he died at the hands of the officers.
In the days that followed, the nation, and world, erupted into protests in defiance of such a blatant act of police brutality, and the underlying system of silence and racism that fosters it.
But, this wasn’t the first time America has been here.
In 2014, the nation watched in horror and shock, again and again, as police officers violently attacked Eric Garner and choked him to death using an illegal choke hold. The officer who killed him would remain on the force for five more years until finally being fired. For killing an unarmed man with an illegal choke hold, Officer Pantaleo was merely fired.
Garner repeatedly pleaded with police, saying, “I can’t breathe.”
In that same year, Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy, was playing in a park when Cleveland police recklessly drove through the park in their cruiser and opened fire before even getting out of the squad car. He was a little black boy killed for playing in a park.
Again in 2014, John Crawford III was shopping in a Walmart and talking on the phone, unaware of what was going on around him. In a 911 call, a store employee claimed he was pointing the gun at customers. That he had loaded it. None of it was true. He was just a black man out shopping in America.
In 2016, Philando Castile was sitting in his car when a police officer shot him seven times at close range. Castile’s girlfriend and four year old daughter were in the car at the time. The officer was acquitted of all charges.
In 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down by three white men in a modern day lynching, and was killed for being black while he was jogging.
A few weeks later, Breonna Taylor was killed inside her own house in an unannounced, botched raid.
The countless deaths of black Americans at the hands of police are not the result of a few bad apples. It is the end result of a deeply racist system that streches all the way back to slavery and traces its path through Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, the war on drugs, to modern policing, to a 21st century white America that largely refuses to acknowledge, or is ignorant of, how this past is still our present.
Objectivity is an ideal that we often point to in journalism but none of us are objective, and we should all play a role in exposing racism and rooting it out. “All journalism, whether you realize it or not, involves choosing sides. We believe in choosing the side of justice, of skepticism at the state and police and others in power. We understand if this makes you uncomfortable, but we’d also ask you to [examine] why it makes you uncomfortable, and who you are helping if you remain ‘objective’ (Street Justice News).”
As a media organization,”The Southwester” strives to inform the community – to tell its story, but we are not objective when it comes to justice. In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates says, “I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.” In this, we will continue to inform our community and give them the tools to be conscious citizens.
“The Southwester” unequivocally stands in solidarity with the black community in SW and the nation. We stand in solidarity with everyone fighting for justice in the streets. We condemn all forms of prejudice, racism, and oppression. Black Lives Matter until justice is truly and forever blind.
The Volunteer Staff of “The Southwester”