In the middle of a pandemic, the Black community mourns two-fold regarding the disproportionate ways the coronavirus permeated our neighborhoods and homes, while also grappling with the real-life terror of police brutality and vigilante violence.
These events continue to distress our emotional sensibilities as Black people in America, a senseless cycle which erodes over and over again.
On Tuesday we watched the violent death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was killed on February 23 while taking a jog in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood. On Wednesday, a 21-year-old Black man named Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, 21, was shot by police while his last moments streamed over Facebook Live in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In a tweet, a man who claimed to be Reed’s friend described him as “a father, son, brother, and a U.S. veteran.”
According to the Indianapolis Star, Reed was shot after officers pursued his vehicle while he was driving 90 miles per hour on Wednesday evening, coming to a halt in a neighborhood located on the city’s northwest side. Authorities say they stopped chasing Reed’s car at one point due to the high speeds, so the timeline regarding his death seems muddled.
Reed reportedly parked the vehicle and ran while being pursued on foot, which was captured on the broadcast.
A spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department claims officers attempted to avoid lethal force, but deployed a taser and fired at Reed. Reed’s live caught his last moments as someone uttered the phrase, “It’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” over his lifeless body.
“He was sweet. Lovable. Always smiling,” said Reed’s father, Jamie Reed in a separate interview with the Indianapolis Star. “Always up and moving around. Always keeping everyone’s spirits up.”
“It just shows me that we’re not really being protected and served,” he continued in reference to the offhanded comment about the casket. “We’re being hunted. My son was a great son. I love him to death. He was just a typical young adult like anybody else. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor called the casket comment “inappropriate.” “Let me be clear,” he said. “These comments are unacceptable and unbecoming of our police department.”
Community leaders, activists and participants held peaceful demonstrations on Wednesday evening in hopes of putting pressure on local law enforcement to launch an investigation into his death.
The past week’s events ring to the July 2016 police shootings of Alton Sterling, 37, and Philando Castile, 32, whose lives were taken just 24 hours apart— Sterling for selling CD’s and Castile for complying with officers during a local traffic stop.
Like Sterling, Arbery was enjoying an everyday mundane effort, and like Castile, Reed’s death was streamed on Facebook for the world to witness. Reed and Castile’s death will continue to uncover how Black civilians are treated in the Midwest, our stories oftentimes only focused on the murderous rampage our ancestors endured in the American South.
Though Arbery and Reed’s murders happened months apart, the media attention circulating the men’s deaths during an era where racial tensions continue to arise, is striking.
Black bodies should not continue to remain a spectacle. In 2016, tAmerica as we knew it was preparing a slow death, coupled with a simultaneous, striking revival of violence against bodies incessantly plastered on our social media timelines. We ask ourselves will the media attention bring justice? Will our discussions warrant the understanding that our humanity matters? We have been down these worn roads too many times to count.
Four years later, not much has changed, but the deaths of Arbery and Reed are compounded under a fast moving pandemic. Though we have yet to discover what life will require as we try to acclimate into our daily routines, the one thing that remains consistent is that America consistently aids and abets violence against Black bodies.