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Justice for Brandon: Black Lives STILL Matter

Justice for Brandon: Black Lives STILL Matter

There are countless accounts of black men being shot and killed by police officers and I’m always furious when I read and hear about a murder like that. But there’s something different when it’s someone from your hometown area. It’s not like I never thought it would happen back home, simply because if you’re from there, you know what the atmosphere really is. But still, it has struck me differently. Even though I didn’t know Brandon Webster, I know people who did, and that’s enough for me.

Brandon Lovell Webster was a 28-year-old black man who was stopped by Trooper S.A. Collins at 8:55 p.m. on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, during a traffic stop on N.C. 130 in Shallotte, NC. For those of you who don’t know, this is about 35 miles south of Wilmington, NC and about 45 minutes north of Myrtle Beach, SC. Brandon was shot by the State Trooper and was pronounced dead at the hospital in Supply, NC shortly after. I didn’t know Brandon Webster like that, but from what so many people back home have been saying, he was a lovable, funny, kind-hearted, black man and father.

The initial story was that Brandon accelerated and attempted to hit Trooper S.A. Collins, and that’s when Collins opened fire into the car. Of course as soon as I read this I said NOPE. Come on now. That doesn’t even sound right. Well, correction, it does sound right because that’s exactly what racist cops and other law enforcement officials do: they shoot to kill black people. Oh and to make things even better, there is no dash cam footage. How convenient.

A newly released video shows that Trooper Collins fired his weapon AFTER Brandon Webster’s vehicle was driving off. The video shows that Brandon backed up and turned the vehicle so that he would not hit anyone or anything, PLUS Collins was on the driver’s side of the car!! The video also shows Collins yelling “Stop. I’ll shoot you **********. Stop.”

Yep. The video shows it. He fired shots because Brandon was driving off. You mean to tell me that the solution was to shoot INTO the car? No it wasn’t. Those were shots to kill.

The narrative that was put out was that Brandon put the officer’s life in danger. That’s a lie. Just because someone doesn’t listen to you at a traffic stop does not mean your life is in danger. No. No. No. Really, Brandon wasn’t bowing down to Trooper Collins and “obeying his commands”, so Trooper Collins got trigger happy to make an example out of Brandon. That’s exactly what it was.

Anytime a black person in America doesn’t “respect authority” or, to be real, doesn’t bow down to white supremacy and its many forms, then we are automatically seen as deserving of death by an officer. That’s a bunch of racist mess. You mean to tell me that the only solution this officer had was to shoot to kill? Really? If I’m walking to my mailbox and someone is coming down the neighborhood street going way too fast, do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to move out of the way. It’s not a hard concept.

State Trooper Kevin Conner was shot and killed in October 2018 in Columbus County (about 40 minutes from Shallotte; Shallotte is in Brunswick County) while conducting a traffic stop. The man who killed him was black. Many white people are still pissed about that because a black man killed a white man and anytime that happens, well you’d think white hoods and robes were going to emerge on the scene immediately. I’m serious! Trooper Collins has people backing him now because of what happened to Trooper Conner. Many see it as revenge. They may not say that out loud, but don’t for a minute think that’s not what’s going through their minds. Now that might not be going through EVERYONE’s minds, but it’s going through enough. There have been so many nasty and racist comments on social media directed toward Brandon Webster. Yea, because the narrative that Brandon was a “thug” has already allowed the wheels to start turning in the minds of people who don’t give a damn about black lives. They only care about Trooper Collins being able to go home to his family because he protected himself and “did what should’ve been done” (Yes, someone said that on Facebook).Another thing to point out is that Brandon Webster’s mugshot was put all over the news when the initial story was reported. His MUGSHOT. Typical media though. The media always wants to put a black person’s mugshot up which only reinforces the stereotypes many people hold about black men being thugs. People want to bring up a black man’s past and paint him as a criminal. This is what racism is.

We all have a past! I know people right now who sold drugs, did drugs, drank underage, and got arrested in college. Some of those people are now teachers and lawyers. And yes, those people are white. You want to know why? Because, as they say, “their past doesn’t define who they are today.” Okay so why is it the opposite for a black person? I know black people who have gone to jail for almost a year for having less than an ounce of marijuana in their possession. But America will let white officers shoot black men in the back and get away with it. America will let Brock Turners rape women and only serve two months in jail. This is America.

If it was a white person though, you best believe they would’ve found a picture of them wearing a tie and button up, smiling and laughing with friends, or a graduation picture. The white person would’ve been “deserving of a bright future”, the white person would’ve been “a good young man who was a joy to be around.” This is what racism is.

Of course the news is favoring the trooper, which I am not the least bit surprised about. I sit on the WECT News Advisory Board and we have a meeting later this week where I WILL be saying how screwed up it is that the media reported the story the way they did. They didn’t have to use his mugshot. They didn’t have to report on his criminal past. He was a black man, a son, a father. He was a black man who was shot and killed by an officer. An officer who has a past of using excessive force on black people. If we are going to have a real conversation about racial progress and change in America, the media must be included because propaganda and the news are powerful weapons. Since 2012 and the murder of Trayvon Martin, we have been saying “Black Lives Matter!” while unarmed black people are still killed while an officer’s knee is in their back on the ground. The animosity between black people and police officers is valid. If you’re going to report the news and you want to report facts, then do that, but do not present a narrative that feeds into racial stereotypes and wonder why people are angry.

“Didn’t the officer have the right to defend himself?” Ummm…and KILL SOMEONE? Hell no. What was he defending himself from, truthfully? It sure wasn’t a vehicle barreling towards him. So for the people who keep saying that Trooper Collins had the right to defend himself, tell me what the threat was. Lethal force was in no way necessary. Lethal force at a traffic stop? OH, OH, I know. (Extreme sarcasm —>) He was defending himself against skin color. Got it.

And no, not all cops and law enforcement officers are bad. Trooper S.A. Collins has a history of targeting black men, though. Too many people want to act like it’s a crime when you call out police and law enforcement when they’re being racist.

Protecting white America has always been what the system is about. As a matter of fact, the history of policing in America doesn’t begin with wanting to protect EVERYONE. No, only white America. The institution of slavery and controlling minorities helped shape early policing. Slave patrols and Night Watches became modern police departments. I mean, we have always been seen as sub-human and deserving of mistreatment.

The link between race and crime is still enduring in the twenty-first century. The condemnation of blackness has been a battle we as black people have been fighting and continue to fight. Our skin color is not a crime. Having dreads does not make us thugs. There are deeply embedded notions that black people are a dangerous race of criminals, and that too can be traced back to the “fear” white people had when it came to black people rising to power, being intelligent, getting good jobs, owning land, becoming judges, lawyers, and doctors. That’s all it was and that’s all it still is. It may be 2018 on the calendar but the ways of 1940 haven’t gone anywhere. They’ve only evolved to look a little different.

This is why we say #BlackLivesMatter. Brandon Webster’s life mattered. His name needs to be put right next to Eric Garner’s, Michael Brown’s, Philando Castile’s, Trayvon Martin’s, Emantic Bradford Jr.’s, Terrence Crutcher’s, Tamir Rice’s, and too many others. Brandon’s funeral is today and I sincerely pray for his family’s strength. Not just today, but everyday after today. I’ll continue to say black lives matter and won’t back down, ever. You can come for me if you want to, but be ready.

Sincerely,
Lettie

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