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Black Lives Matter, And The Fact We Have To Keep Reminding You Of This Is Some Bullsh*t

By Brian Richards | News Stories | April 17, 2018 |

By Brian Richards | News Stories | April 17, 2018 |


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Last Thursday in the Michigan area, Jeff Zeigler, a 53-year-old retired firefighter, heard his wife yelling at the front door of their home as she demanded to know who was attempting to break in. Upon hearing this, Jeff immediately responded by retrieving his shotgun and heading downstairs to the front door to fire a gunshot in the direction of the supposed intruder.

The person who was supposedly breaking into the home of Jeff Zeigler and his wife? The person who had the two of them fearing for their lives as if Jack Torrance was taking an ax to their front door with every intention of using it to chop them both into pieces?

That person was Brennan Walker, a fourteen-year-old African-American student at Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

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The only thing that Brennan had actually done to terrify and infuriate Zeigler and his wife was knock on their door and ask for directions on how to get to his school because he had missed his bus and his cell phone had been confiscated by his mother. From Buzzfeed News:

…After [Brennan] knocked on the door, the woman began yelling at him and accusing him of breaking into her house before he could say anything.

“I was trying to explain to her that I wanted to get directions to go to my school,” Brennan said. “I told her, ‘No, I go to Rochester High, I’m just looking for directions to Rochester High.’”

Brennan said he put his hands up and began to run after he saw the man in the house holding a shotgun.

“I looked back behind me, I saw him aiming at me, and I turned back. I turned back and I heard the gunshot. And I tried to run faster,” the teen told WXYZ.

Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright, told local TV stations that a security video at the suspect’s house recorded the interaction between her son and the homeowners. She said that the woman in the video could be heard saying, “Why did these people choose my house?”

“After watching the video and hearing the wife say, ‘Why did these people choose my house,’ I knew it was racially motivated,” Wright told WXYZ. She also described it as a hate crime.

Prosecutors said Friday that the home security video supported Walker’s version of events.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard called the incident “unacceptable on every level.”

“It is just absurd that this happened,” Bouchard told Fox 2 News. “I feel terrible for the young man; I feel terrible for the mom and the anxiety that they had to go through. We are going to ask for every charge permissible for this guy, who stepped up and fired a shotgun because someone knocked on his door.”

From Huffington Post Black Voices:

“My mom says that black boys get shot because sometimes they don’t look their age, and I don’t look my age. I’m 14, but I don’t look 14. I’m kind of happy that, like, I didn’t become a statistic,” said Brennan.

Zeigler was arrested and taken into custody at Oakland County Jail, where bail was set at $50,000. Despite being placed on GPS monitoring and forbidden from being within ten miles of Brennan and his family, he remained insistent that he was in the right for how he responded. Said Zeigler to the court during his arraignment:

“…[There’s] a lot more to this story than what’s being told…I believe that will come out in court.”

If the details in this story about what happened to Brennan Walker and how he nearly lost his life all because he had the audacity to ask someone in his neighborhood for help sound both awful and awfully familiar, it’s probably because a similar situation happened not too long ago that ended a lot more horribly.

On November 2, 2013, a 19-year-old African-American woman named Renisha McBride was driving through the predominantly White and middle-class Detroit neighborhood of Dearborn Heights at around 4 AM and ended up crashing her car. When she exited her vehicle, Renisha approached the home of Theodore Wafer, a 54-year-old White airport maintenance worker, and knocked on his front door to request some assistance. Wafer, believing that Renisha was trying to break into his home, took his 12-gauge shotgun and fired at her through the screen door, killing her with a single shot to the face, though he would later claim that the shooting was accidental. Wafer would then go on to be prosecuted for second-degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The following year, he was found guilty of all three charges and Wafer was sentenced to seventeen to thirty-two years in prison, fifteen to thirty years for second-degree murder, and two years for the felony firearms charge.

This is a fate that could have easily befallen Brennan Walker as well. All because he missed his bus to school and knocked on someone’s door to ask for help.

Naturally, once the news broke on social media, there was no holding back on how furious so many people were about this:

As if that particular catastrofuck wasn’t enough to make Black people fear for their safety and their lives (more so than usual, anyway) as well as feel infuriated for having to feel this way in the first place, another incident recently occurred that grabbed everyone’s attention once it was posted on social media:

The two African-American men who were placed under arrest and removed from that Starbucks were waiting for their friend/business associate to arrive and meet up with them. But because they hadn’t ordered anything and were simply sitting in that Starbucks, the manager wanted them to leave and contacted actual police officers to make that happen. Despite the fact that the two African-American men had neither said anything or did anything disruptive to merit such a response from the manager. Despite the fact that it’s a well-known fact that in almost any Starbucks you walk into, the majority of people seated inside that Starbucks aren’t doing anything and haven’t ordered anything from the Starbucks employees to eat or drink. Despite the fact that such behavior from “customers” at Starbucks (and most other coffee shops) merited this article to be written and published by the New York Times earlier this year. Despite the fact that such behavior in Starbucks has become so notorious and widespread that even Family Guy touched upon it back in 2007 with this scene here:

It didn’t take very long for Starbucks to try and put this particular fire out…

…Even though they weren’t very successful in doing so and simply reminded many people why their business wasn’t worth frequenting in the first place, resulting in the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks being put to use by Twitter, as well as people suggesting other and better alternatives for coffee shops and cafes far more deserving of business and support.

This particular tweet came from Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in Hamilton, and who knows a little something about being a Black man who has to publicly deal with questionable behavior from others:

As the protests against Starbucks, and against this specific Starbucks in the Philadelphia area where the arrests took place, grew in numbers as well as volume…

…it became even more clear that something had to be done to keep Starbucks from losing further profits to bring calm to the African-American community in Philadelphia. Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks announced that he had arranged a meeting with the two men who were arrested so that they could sit down and discuss their thoughts with one another in further detail.

He also appeared on Good Morning America for an interview with Robin Roberts in which he apologized for everything that had happened:

And then the news broke that the manager of that Starbucks who had originally contacted the police to have the two men removed from the store and taken into custody was no longer employed at that store. Though, there were some protesters who had questioned as to whether the manager’s employment was terminated entirely or whether she was simply transferred to another location.

As horrible as both of these incidents are, it says a lot that we have to breathe a sigh of relief over the fact that neither of them escalated and ended with either Brennan Walker or the two African-American men losing their lives as a result of what happened to them. That Ziegler’s shot didn’t connect and that the two men in Philadelphia didn’t end up being killed while taken into police custody. Because situations just like these have ended just like that, or even worse. And the names end up becoming hashtags, and numerous articles end up being written about them, and some of the people who write such articles can’t be bothered to recognize the humanity in who they write about, and would rather point out that the recently deceased was “no angel” and that we should side with those who give us yet another reason on an increasingly long list of reasons to say that Black Lives Matter.

Because Black lives do matter. They always have. They always will. And as much as we can breathe a sigh of relief over the fact that Brennan Walker and the two African-American men in Philadelphia are still alive, it doesn’t change the fact that reminding the rest of the world (even with another post like this, as this is not the first time I’ve written about it and I unfortunately suspect it won’t be the last) that Black Lives Matter has become an absolute necessity. Because of Renisha McBride. Because of Alton Sterling. Because of Philando Castile. Because of Sandra Bland. Because of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Because of Freddie Gray. Because of Michael Brown. Because of Korryn Gaines. Because of Rekia Boyd. Because of Walter Scott. Because of Tamir Rice. Because of Tanisha Anderson. Because of Eric Garner. Because of John Crawford III. Because of Stephon Clark. And because of the countless others whose names and stories we don’t know anything about.

Because when stories such as these about Black people become public knowledge, there are too many people who immediately feel the need to ask what these Black people did to deserve death and mistreatment, and immediately feel the need to assume that they could’ve and should’ve done more to avoid such a fate.

When your first response to such stories is to ask questions and make assumptions such as those, you’re saying to the rest of the world that you don’t think that Black lives actually do matter. Not as much as your life and the lives of those who look like you. And you’re saying it to others who are willing to prove, in both word and deed, that they completely agree with you.

The fact that we still have to tell these people and tell the rest of the world over and over and over again that they’re wrong, and that Black lives do matter, whether they want to hear it or not?

That really is some bullshit.



Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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