In the wake of nationwide protests by the activist group Black Lives Matter, North Miami Beach police have admitted to using the mug shots of African-American teens for target practice at their shooting range, according to a recent NBC video report.
Valerie Deant, an African-American Army National Guard sergeant whose division was using the shooting range, was shocked when she saw the bullet-riddled pictures in a garbage can. Adding insult to injury, her brother’s image was one of the facial targets, his with a bullet hole in the forehead and right eye.
A teary Deant says a 14-year-old police line-up photo of her brother, who had been processed through the department in 2000 after a drag-racing accident in which two people were killed, was used. She says after serving time he turned his life around and is now a hard-working family man with a wife and children.
Further investigation revealed that all of the images she saw that day were mug shots of African-American males who had been processed through the department.
This egregious action prompts the question: Why is the Black Lives Matter movement being discounted in some quarters given the overwhelming evidence of the legitimacy of its claims?
Granted, the protest movement is not going to be right on all its picks of police shootings. But the glaring numbers require investigation.
Ohio shooting victim John Crawford III, for instance, had simply been walking through a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, contemplating the purchase of a toy gun — an air gun, similar to a BB gun — for his son when he was gunned down. In the video his back was turned as the police began to fire; he seems to have been shot additional times after he had scrambled for cover, dropping the toy gun on the floor.
In another instance, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police as he brandished a toy gun in a Cleveland, Ohio, park just two seconds after they pulled up to him.
Currently, in Minnesota, leaders of the Black Lives Matter organization have been charged with protesting without permission at the Mall of America on Dec. 20. The Bloomington city attorney’s office has filed the complaint. St. Paul NAACP President Jeff Martin, meanwhile, says his organization will send a letter to the Bloomington attorney’s office requesting that it consider options short of charging organizers.
Wherever there is injustice in a society, activists must go beyond the pale to ensure their voices are heard so justice can be meted out fairly. The Mall of America has received innumerable concessions from the public tax dole. It would be quite fitting for the MOA and the City of Bloomington to get on the right side of history by dropping the charges.
Les Lester is a freelance writer and author of the novel “The Awakening of Khufu.”
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