Marquise Jones, 23
Antronie Scott, 36
Charles Roundtree, 18
Many of us do not know the individuals listed above. If you don’t know the above mentioned names therein is a problem. Although they were strangers to one another, they have several things in common. For starters, they are all males. They are all African American. Finally, and most importantly, each of their lives were ended at the hands of a San Antonio police officer. It is important that we remember our sons and that the memory of their lives and more importantly, their deaths, live on.
Unfortunately, there is a name that we all do know as of late and that’s Jada. I say unfortunately because our newly elected District 2 City Councilwoman has become a distraction. A distraction that has drawn our collective attention from a far bigger issue. Whether you voted for Jada or for Keith or for any one of the others, this larger issue affects you the same.
On July 18, 2019, a San Antonio grand jury decided not to indict Officer Steve Casanova, a 5-year veteran of the police department, in the shooting death of Charles Roundtree. This comes just 2 days after another high profile officer involved murder of an unarmed black man resulted in a non-indictment of the officer involved. On July 16, 2019, a federal grand jury failed to bring an indictment in the well known case of Eric Garner. Garner, an African American man, was killed in New York City, 5 years ago by an officer of the New York Police Department. As in the Charles Roundtree murder, Garner’s murder was also caught on video. He can be heard 11 times in the video saying “I can’t breath”. It should be mentioned that the coroner in the Garner case ruled his death a HOMICIDE by asphyxiation. Garner's dying words, "I can't breathe," became a national rallying cry and a flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.
San Antonio, a city that touts it’s diversity, and claims to be a city for all, seems to be following the national trend of devaluing black lives and not holding those responsible for taking that life criminally responsible. What message are we to take when law enforcement comes into our neighborhoods, kills our sons, and is not held accountable? It sure sounds like it’s open season on black people. It should chill us ALL- whether you’re white, black, Hispanic or you check the box marked “other”, that we live in a society where this is acceptable. To know that as a black man, a chance encounter with an officer could lead to death is a horrifying thought.
I’d like to be clear about something very important before we continue- the vast majority of police officers are not only good police officers, they’re good people. They’re active in church or their place of worship and they’re engaged in their own communities. When at work, they take the time to talk with the people in our community. They respect the people and the community. Most importantly, they abide by the oath they swore to and that’s to protect and serve. We love them and need those police officers and thank them for the good job that they do in protecting us. It’s that small minority of the bad ones that has us, in the black community, in fear of OUR lives. We’ve noticed an increased police presence on the eastside with random stops abound. It’s just a matter of time before we’re sending out thoughts and prayers to a family who has lost a loved one as a result of law enforcement.
Statistics say that white people are killed at the hands of police officers at a higher rate than blacks. The debate as to the underlying ways in which those statistics are gathered is for a completely different day. The general point that I’m trying to convey is that cops shouldn’t be killing ANYONE, especially unarmed black men. If white people are cool with being on the high side of that statistic and are cool with cops killing them, then ok-cool. The black community is not cool with it and demands justice. Actually, I wonder what would’ve happened had officer Casanova rolled up to Connor’s pad out in Stone Oak, knocked on his door and started blasting at Connor, Tanner, and Becky. Wonder if he would’ve gotten away with that one the way he did Charles Roundtree?
A common theme in all of these killings is that the officer “fears for their life or safety” which justifies the taking of someone else’s life. I get it. And I’m sure there are times that it is warranted. Unfortunately, these incidents are captured on body cams or other video apparatus and show a completely different scene. In the Roundtree video, the only people that looked to be in danger were the victims. I urge you to watch the video.
Every January, we get together nationally to observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his many sacrifices and accomplishments. Here in San Antonio, we boast having the nation’s largest MLK March. We get people from near and far to participate in marching for freedom, equality, and justice for all. We should be ashamed. We should be in the forefront of justice where violations of civil rights are concerned. Instead, we do nothing more than slap accountability in the face.
Shawn King, who was the keynote speaker at this years MLK March, posted the following on all of his social media platforms- in direct response to the Charles Roundtree killing:
“I’m deeply concerned and will be watching closely. I want to close this morning by talking about two horrible cases of police violence that hardly even made the news, but would’ve been the primary headlines just a few years ago. Both cases take place in Texas.
All the way back on October 17th, 2018 – in San Antonio, Texas an unarmed, non-violent teenage boy named Charles Roundtree was shot and killed by San Antonio Police while he was literally sitting on the couch watching television. We’re just now hearing about it because the body camera footage was just now released – and it’s horrible.
SAPD takes away silent protester
Police claim that they came to the house because of a complaint from outside of the house, but in the darkness of the night a police officer bangs on the door, doesn’t even identify himself, and starts yelling right away. As someone comes to the door, the officer just starts shooting through the door, and kills the teenage boy on the couch – Charles Roundtree. What’s wild is that after the shooting, the San Antonio Police released a statement saying how professional the entire ordeal was – and celebrated the actions of the police officer. They think we’re stupid, obviously. And they knew they could hide this footage for months – so whatever they said and thought would go, but later today I’ll be posting some action steps we can take together on this case on all of my social media accounts.”
Where are our elected black leaders? Hawkins, Calvert, Sullivan- WHERE ARE YOU? At what point will you pick up this cause and hold those accountable for killing us? We don’t expect you to change this trend in a day but at least speak out definitively that this is not acceptable! Be a strong voice for those that put you in office that don’t have a voice.
As a community, African Americans are resilient. We were able to survive 200 years of slavery and emerge free. When we were turned away at universities, we started our own. We aspired to become lawyers and doctors and we prospered. We even achieved the highest office in the land, courtesy of President Barack Obama, this nation’s 44th President. Our children should not fear police but should aspire to be like them. The good ones. Maybe then they can come back and police the communities in which they know and love. Come back and show them how it’s done.
As I mentioned early in this piece, this nonsense with our City Councilwoman has us not only divided but distracted as well. The issue of police killing unarmed black men and not being held to account criminally as anyone else would- is a serious one. Its one that affects every black person regardless of our political views. We’re getting caught up in our differences instead of focusing on our similarities and common ground, and most importantly the plaguing issues of our community. If we don’t, we’re just waiting for the next officer involved killing of an unarmed black man or woman so we can add them to the growing list.
I’ll leave you as I came.
Marquise Jones, 23
Antronie Scott, 36
Charles Roundtree, 18