"Shem Walker? Who the heck is Shem Walker?"
That was the response a friend had when I brought up the name of the recently murdered Brooklynite. I will admit that I would have LOVED to stand on my higher-than-thou step stool and wag my finger at him; I'd love to point out his blatant ignorance of such horrendous cases of police brutality in Black America. (We're Black, we're supposed to just feel police bruality, like a spider-sense, but with more drum and bass.) Truth be told, I had a similar reaction a mere twenty-four hours earlier. I was enlightened by the story of Shem Walker on a brunch outing with a group I affectionately refer to as the ''Black Justice League'' (Batman/Wonder Woman-type justice, not MLK/Malcolm X-type justice). Little did I know that this innocent jovial outing would actually point out an injustice that I was sincerely unaware of.
I was struck when my friend was so dumbfounded by the name Shem Walker. Had I asked him about Dr. Henry Louis Gates he would have been quite familiar with HIM and all aspects of that incident, right down to the 911 call placed by a white woman, who did not mention race. Every known media outlet in America covered the allegedly biased arrest of the noted scholar and the following hailstorm of controversy that resulted. (Perhaps it was all a product of a little bit of Harvard lawyering, a little bit of presidential commentary, and a little bit of post-racial America's slip showing.) The murder of a man on the stoop of his own home by a police officer seems to have had the same impact as Americans calling for health-care reform. Meaning none. No impact whatsoever. Congress will go on vacation and people will continue not knowing the name Shem Walker. Unlike the Gates case, it seems that the facts here are fairly clear.
An undercover police officer sat on Walker's family stoop and so Walker requested the trespasser leave. The officer, who had headphones on, did not hear the request. Walker then went to remove the undercover officer from his stoop by force and a fight ensued. After yelling "freeze" Walker was then shot and killed.(A nearby police officer claims the undercover officer said "Police. Freeze." Yes, there was a nearby officer and with this officer nearby the undercover officer still pulled a gun.)
Walker was described various ways: handyman, ex-con, dude on probation for drug charges, and an American veteran. In all honesty, it doesn't matter if he was fresh out of jail for murder. Keeping somone off of your family's stoop isn't wrong. A man is now DEAD because of trying to keep his portion of the neighborhood clear of hoodlums and drug dealers.
Ironic really. The officer was posed as a drug dealer and he was treated like one.
Shem Walker, now dead due to excessive force (Yes, EXCESSIVE. Walker didn't pull a gun or a knife), and yet the news preferred a "shot from the hip" comment from our president about Gates as opposed to a "shot dead on his front stoop" story, giving yet another example of a Black man's life being thrown away in a heartbeat. We're so past race that a comment about race saturated the media for days. An unnecessary loss of life on the streets of Brooklyn barely raised a blip on the radar.
Hey CNN? MSNBC? FOX News? (I apologize. Me mentioning Fox implies that they are an actual news source. That was a regretable implication.) Where's my endless coverage of this? Why don't I know every aspect of every detail? Why haven't the neighbors who live seventeen doors down been on CNN to explain their minimal connection to this event? Why do I sound like a Jadakiss song? These are all questions that should be answered.
But they won't be. If not for a few voices speaking up (shoutout to Ta-Nehisi Coates), I probably wouldn't have heard about it. My hope is not to be a wall for this to bounce off of. I pass it to you. What will YOU do?
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