The Atlanta Killing of a Black Man. The Failure of Imagination.

Rayshard Brooks was shot Friday night (6/12/20) outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta.

Yes, he had a Taser gun in his hands,

Yes, he had fought with the police moments before,

Yes, he should not have.

But Rayshard Brooks was running away from the officers when he was shot.

He was not a threat to them.

Why did the two white officers,

As they approached Rayshard Brooks in his car where he had fallen asleep And where he sat intoxicated with alcohol (he failed a sobriety test),

Not say, to themselves, under their breaths,

‘Let us not kill a black man today.’

Why did the two white officers not say,

‘Let us consider the offense as we approach this man asleep in his car,

Let us consider the offense before we react.’

Why did the two police officers not say,

To themselves, not to anyone, just to themselves,

‘Let us not kill a black man today.’

They could have said it,

And if they had, maybe Rayshard Brooks might be alive today.

There was a failure of imagination in the police department in Atlanta.

A profound failure.

When the entire force gathered at their stations before going out on their shift,

Those in charge should have said to the officers,

‘Our reason for being is to protect the lives and property of the city of Atlanta,

But let us not kill a black man today.

Please, not again.

Let us think before we use our weapons,

Let us ask ourselves, are we really in danger?

Let us not overreact because our pride has been hurt,

And let us never forget that a man running away is not a threat to us.

So please,

Let us not kill a black man today.’

There was and is a failure of imagination in the police department of the city of Atlanta,

A failure of imagination that led to the excessive use of force,

A failure of imagination that didn’t allow the officers confronting Rayshard Brooks,

To ask themselves,’ now why would a man be asleep in his car, drunk, and blocking the drive thru lane? What could possibly be happening in the life of this man?’

If there had been imagination in the police department of the city of Atlanta,

Then maybe the officers approaching Rayshard Brooks might have said to him,

‘Say young man, good evening, you have fallen asleep at the wheel,

And you’re blocking the lane,

Seems like you’re needing some help.’

Rayshard Brooks was not hurting anyone, but himself,

And who knows what pressures he was under that he had taken to overdrinking.

Imagination opens the door to compassion,

And we all need a little of that, don’t we?

Even the two officers who approached Rayshard Brooks.

Imagination and compassion.

And let us not kill a Black man today.

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