‘Why They Kill Us’

Protesting Saheed Vassell’s killing by the NYPD. (Photo by Paul Stremple via Bklyner)

“Police kill Black men at such a high rate because the value they hold on the life of a Black man is minimal.”

So writes Marlon Rice in Our Time Press, following the killing on April 4 by the NYPD of Saheed Vassell, the Crown Heights resident well known to many in his neighborhood as a disturbed though harmless man – but not, apparently, to those who called 911 complaining of a man brandishing a gun (which turned out to be a metal pipe).

Among Rice’s recommendations:

Police have to be educated and forced to be accountable for their views on race. There should be a constant psychological evaluation and profile of police officers so that those officers that exhibit racially polarizing ideals can be taken off of duties that might put them in situations where they might be compelled to draw their weapon.

Rice notes that such killings often result after the police unleash a fusillade of bullets.

Saheed was shot at 10 times. How do you fire 10 shots at a man who hasn’t fired one shot back at you? How do you decide to kill a person without being totally sure that what you see in his hands is a gun, and not some metal pipe?

At a rally following Vassell’s killing covered by Paul Stremple of Bklyner, one protestor carried a sign with the words “shoot to disarm not shoot to kill.”

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