On April 1, a video surfaced on Instagram that showed a 21-year-old male by the name of Samir Hill dominating a pair of on-duty Philadelphia police officers in a game of pick-up basketball.
While the officers were embarrassed by the former Overbook High School point guard, their participation in the feel-good video helped deliver the message to the millions that viewed it across social media that “not all cops are evil.” Although that message possessed complete accuracy, another video was posted just three days later, going against that idea and reminding everyone of the issue of police brutality that took center stage in 2014 and has dominated the news ever since.
The video that surfaced on April 4 shows the final moments of what started off as a routine traffic stop turned tragedy in North Charleston, S.C., in which 33-year-old police officer, Michael Slager, a white man, shot and killed 50-year-old Walter Scott, a black man. According to numerous reports, this incident started when Slager pulled over Scott for driving his Mercedes-Benz with a broken tailight. This escalated to Scott fleeing on foot out of fear he would be arrested, only to have Slager chase after him.
The two engaged in a scuffle where Slager tried his stun gun to subdue Scott but to little effect. The video begins near the end of the exchange, in which Scott breaks away from Slager, who draws his gun and fires eight shots. Scott falls after the final shot. Slager proceeded to call in the shooting, cuff Scott and seemingly place an object (believed to be his stun gun) next to Scott’s lifeless body, who remained face down on the ground.
Not only does this incident force the topic of police brutality to reemerge, but also inherits the backlash from similar events that have occurred within the last year, namely in Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland, Ohio and Staten Island, N.Y. Most Americans have grown accustomed to hearing about these incidents since Michael Brown was lying face down on a Ferguson street last August.
Scott’s name is the latest on a long list of unfortunate black men who had their lives taken from them at the hands of the same people that took an oath to protect and serve them. It is due to these events that the movement “Black Lives Matter” has been working overtime to drive home the fact to everyone that at the end of the day, black people are still human beings and deserve to be treated as such, not like animals.
Commenting on this topic has become increasingly difficult. This is because it has been lingering in the air like a horrible odor for just over eight months. Yet, despite how many times we may try to cover the odor with videos like Hill crossing up a pair of Philadelphia patrolmen, it shows no signs of going away. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk about kids like Hill playing basketball against some local officers instead of talking about more videos of local patrolmen taking the lives of kids like Hill? What is the need for officers to pull out their guns so quickly on people of color? Do they not consider that people like Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and Walter Scott have families they go home to? Jobs they work? People that will miss them? Do their lives matter at all?
The two Philadelphia police officers who attempted to guard Hill are prime examples that not all officers are evil. In fact, a large majority of cops have nothing but good intentions. However, what everyone else needs to understand is that same sentiment applies to black people. Once that is understood, we might finally be able to put this irritating topic to rest, instead of people like Walter Scott.