port of harlem magazine
Theo Hodge, Jr. M.D.
Carrying While Black (Part 3 of 3): Even When Exercising Your Right, You May Still be Viewed as Wrong
Jul 01 – Jul 14, 2021

Jemel Roberson was only 26 when on a November night in 2018 a police officer from south suburban Midlothian mistook Roberson, who was working as an armed security guard, for a criminal, and shot him four times in the back, killing him.

Marcus Allen Weldon was the same age when police in Detroit arrested him and he was charged with six felonies, after exchanging gunfire with two men who were threatening and then began assaulting Weldon, who was protecting a female co-worker from unwanted sexual advances from the men.

Philando Castile was 32 when a police officer in suburban Minneapolis shot and killed him as he reached to present his driver’s license to the officer who pulled him over, incorrectly thinking he was an armed robbery suspect.

Tamir Rice, 12, was playing with a toy gun on a public playground when a Cleveland officer shot him dead.

What do all of these sad cases have in common? They are all cases of Black males who were doing nothing illegal at the time they were shot. They were working, protecting vulnerable citizens and themselves, driving a car and playing on a playground when their lives were either taken from them or turned completely upside down.

“From the seventeenth century, when it was encoded into law that the enslaved could not own, carry, or use a firearm whatsoever, until today, with measures to expand and curtail gun ownership aimed disproportionately at the African American population, the right to bear arms has been consistently used as a weapon to keep African Americans powerless—revealing that armed or unarmed, Blackness, it would seem, is the threat that must be neutralized and punished,” writes Emory University Professor Carol Anderson, author of “The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America,” which will be released on June 1.

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