In 2014, John Crawford III was at an Ohio Wal-Mart, buying whatever one buys at that store, when he happened upon a pellet gun.
On surveillance video, Crawford is seen holding the gun, which was not packaged, while talking on his cell phone, allegedly to the mother of his two children; perhaps was asking if he could buy it …
At the same time, another man, Ronald Ritchie, was on his cellphone, calling 911 to say that that there “was a gentleman walking around with a gun in the store” and that “he’s like pointing it at people” and “waving it back and forth.”
The video shows Crawford continuing through the store, looking at this and that, and appearing to still be on his phone. The gun is pointed at the ground and several people pass him by, seemingly unconcerned.
Then, police enter the frame to his side and Crawford turns his head, falls to the ground, scrambles in the other direction, then turns back around before ultimately falling again to the ground.
It’s unclear whether he dropped the gun before being shot or after. What is sure is that he was killed for being a black man in a Wal-Mart with a BB gun.
Now, I get it that he was a man with a gun, I get it that police officers have to be cautious, and I get it that they were responding to a call from Ronald Ritchie saying Crawford was waving the gun around and pointing it at people.
The trouble is, once the surveillance footage was released, Ronald Ritchie changed his story and said Crawford never pointed the gun at anybody.
Too late, though, because James Crawford III was shot to death, because a white man feared the image of a black man with a gun; and police officers didn’t take two seconds to ascertain what kind of gun Crawford had and what he was doing with it.
And, to be clear, I know, I know, that, had it been me, or any other white guy, this would have ended quite differently.
Still, there was a trial, like there was a trial in the Emmett Till murder. After a grand jury watched hours of video, listened to audio recording and heard the testimony from 18 witnesses, they decided, after three days. that the officers were justified in the shooting.
Ronald Ritchie is 2018’s Carolyn Bryant and James Crawford III is 2018’s Emmett Till.
Two black men were murdered after being wrongfully accused by white people.
It isn’t over; I don’t know if it will ever be over, but I do know that we all need to speak up when we see racists in action, when we hear racists in action, when we realize that a racist is sitting in the Oval Office.