By: David A. Love/The Grio
Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, was shot to death like a dog by the Tulsa police last Friday. But in America, not even dogs are treated the way black people are these days.
On Sept. 16, Crutcher, 40, was on the road with his stranded SUV. After police responded to a 911 call concerning his car, Crutcher was gunned down.
They claimed he was armed, but there was no weapon. Someone in the helicopter taking the video is even heard saying, “That looks like a bad dude too. He might be on something.”
One officer, Tyler Turnbough, tasered the poor man, while the officer who took his life, Betty Shelby (who should be in jail), said Crutcher was not cooperating with police. And yet the video shows he had his hands up.
The man needed help, and yet he found himself in a great deal of trouble not of his own doing. They shot him, and then they left him there on the ground — like a dog, or worse than a dog — the way they always leave us when they seek to take us out of this world.
Tulsa police chief Chuck Jordan called the video disturbing and asked the Justice Department to review the case. And we know how that usually turns out.
Meanwhile, had these cops put down a dog the way they killed Terence Crutcher, there would be national outrage and a call for these officers’ heads on a platter. Actually, there wouldn’t have been time for that, because those cops — most certainly Officer Shelby — would have been under the jail. Because Americans love their dogs, but do not love black people. And certainly, many of the Blue Lives Matter, White Lives Matter and All Lives Matter crowd would be participating on the frontlines of the protests, because while they believe black people are animals, dogs are their best friends.
Everybody loves dogs. Dogs are very helpful and loving pets that provide companionship. Dogs were also used to hunt down slaves in this country, and during Jim Crow, the police unleashed dogs on protesters to tear into their flesh. That is, two-legged dogs, as Malcolm X called them, sicked four-legged dogs on peaceful civil rights protesters. So they served a useful purpose.
Meanwhile, let us not forget about the city of Tulsa, the place where Terence Crutcher’s murder took place.
Tulsa was the home of Black Wall Street, the thriving African-American community of Greenwood. On May 31, 1921, a white mob decimated Tulsa’s black community on the ground, while staging an aerial bombing, burning down nearly every last home and business. Hundreds were lynched, and thousands were left homeless. Tulsa still has not come to terms with its sins — the wholesale slaughter of its black residents 95 years ago — and it remains the single largest massacre of black people in the U.S.
This is a society conditioned to accept, even embrace the genocide of black people. Could anyone imagine the slaughter of hundreds of dogs? Of course not. But black people are another story. After all, we are dangerous criminals and thugs, so they tell us.
Cops took us out on the slave plantation with reckless abandon and with the protection of the law, and today it is no different. They tell us we’re always up to something, unworthy of empathy, even our babies. Besides, no one understands the challenges police officers face on a daily basis, so they say.
And with no police officers in jail for murdering Mr. Crutcher, we must ask what it would take to hold cops accountable for taking our lives. This is a nation that will suspend a black football player for protesting racist police violence before it suspends a cop — much less arrests or indicts her — for the murder of a black man, woman or child.
When you ask how Terence Crutcher — like so many other black souls — can meet such a horrible fate without any consequences, remember that while dogs are “just like people,” black folks are regarded as less than human.
We always were, and no video will change that.