After the uproar Dylann Roof created with his unspeakable actions of slaughtering a room full of Black churchgoers after praying with them during bible study, the nation has been once again divided on issues dealing with race relations. If a positive could be mustered through the midst of this tragedy, its only upside could be the forced conversations about racism being institutional or fringe, the flying of the confederate flag, and the possibility of White privilege being at play during Roof’s arrest.
In the latter, White privilege was given as the reason for Dylann Roof being calmly escorted without handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest.
This idea was shared multiple times and many people could not believe his treatment in a time where Black suspects have been killed during arrest attempts, even for minor offenses of selling loose cigarettes (Eric Garner) or for literally doing nothing but shopping at Walmart (Jamal Crawford III).
But the outrage at this picture was later explained. We noticed that the assumed left hand of Roof seen in the picture was actually the left hand of the man standing behind him, which made it appear that he was not handcuffed. And later, another picture surfaced showing how a Black man in 2002 was given a vest and handcuffed just the same as Roof.
This picture, showing the similarity in the treatment of Dylann Roof and Lee Boyd Malvo (DC Sniper), laid some of the White Privilege assumptions to rest. At this point, I will resist the urge to explain why these two pictures are not as close in comparison as it may appear (Dylann captured 13 hours later with half the nation still unaware vs Malvo being a notorious sniper of a 23-day massacre).
But the bigger point that was being made when people recognized Dylann being calmly escorted in a bullet-proof vest was how Walter Scott, John Crawford III, Mike Brown, Ezel Ford, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Briston, Jereme Reid, Tony Robinson, and Eric Harris were all shot and killed by police in the past year alone, not given their day in court or a bullet proof vest. Bullets vs Bullet-proof vests.
And now, this video emerges of the peaceful arrest. When clicking on the video, I think many people were expecting the usual, “GET YOUR HANDS UP! GET ON THE FUCKING GROUND! NOW!” screams from police officers. But that didn’t happen. In fact, only two of the four arresting officers had their guns drawn when approaching the vehicle, and one was holstered by the time contact was made. Even stranger, ALL guns were holstered during the pat down of Roof, before he was even put into handcuffs. One of the calmest take downs of a murder suspect who police stated “should be considered armed and dangerous” in the past 10 years. It is certainly a puzzling set of actions.
Especially because different, and much more violent, take down tactics have recently been used to apprehend other peaceful people in very recent history.
Like this unarmed man in the streets who was pepper-sprayed and then, when backing away from the officers, thrown to the grown by his hair:
Or this peaceful 57-year-old man who was put in a choke-hold, hit 16 times, and tasered 3 times:
Or this peaceful man walking down the street when approached by police who, after putting his hands up and attempting to “get on the ground” as requested, was kicked in the face and knocked unconscious:
Or maybe the worst one. A suspect who, after being tased unconscious, was kicked and stomped on repeatedly by angry officers:
I think the point is made. When suspects of very minor crimes can be treated with such hostility, why is it that a suspected mass murderer who was said to be armed and dangerous was treated with such calm civility?
Keep in mind, we are not asking that Roof be treated with anger and aggression. We are saying that ALL ARRESTS of suspects should look like this. But, they aren’t.