I, for one, am really glad that MLK Day is over so we can go back to being the racially insensitive we are most every day of the year. I mean, that’s who we are, right, because how else can we explain this story?
Down in Medley, Florida, the police were at the local Firearms Training Center doing a little target practice; at first, this sounds good because then, maybe, rather than shooting to kill a Black man who has his hands up, or shooting to kill a young African American boy who has a toy pistol in his hand, maybe the police can just shoot to maim; shoot to injure, and that way no one gets killed.
But, at this particular rifle range, after the North Miami Beach Police snipers had their practice, a group of National Guard troops came in for their practice and found that the police had been using photographs of real people for target practice. And all of them were "mug shots of African American men," with at least one of which belonged to a suspect that had previously been arrested by the department.
Sgt. Valerie Deant of the National Guard told a local news outlet that she was left "speechless" after finding one of the targets was her brother Woody Deant, who had been arrested and sentenced to four years of jail in 2000 for involvement with a illegal drag race that killed two people. Her brother, however, was outraged:
"Now I'm being used as a target? I'm not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a career man. I work 9-to-5."
Sickening, isn’t it? But what’s even more disgusting is the response from North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis, who said that using real faces was necessary for facial recognition drills and added that "there is no discipline forthcoming" for any officers involved.
Oh, he did say he was, ahem, “bothered” by the inclusion of an actual resident of North Miami Beach, but said that the agency used similar sheets of all-Hispanic or all-white targets. But not on that day, I guess because, maybe, maybe it was just Black People Target Practice Day for the North Miami Beach Police.
This type of behavior might be just one of the reasons why the number of Black Americans shot and killed by police is far greater than the numbers of any other race shot and killed by police. I mean, if the police are using pictures of Black men in target practice, that kind of reinforces the idea that Black men are the criminals and should be shot dead; it’s even more sickening that out of all the options available to the North Miami Beach Police — like say silhouettes of criminals — they chose to use actual photographs of real young Black men.
I don’t think is what MLK was dreaming about ….