The Shooting of Jacob Blake. Kenosha,Wisconsin. Sunday 8/23/2020

Why didn’t you stop?

I watched the video recorded by a neighbor from across the street.

At first you’re behind the parked vehicle. Can’t see what is happening but you’re interacting with the police. Don’t know what was said but the police draw their guns.

Then you pull away, even as the policemen, their guns pointed at you, follow.

Why didn’t you stop?

Most of us would. Most of us would say to ourselves, ‘they’re pointing a gun at me, they can fire at any moment, they’re asking me to stop. So I stop.’

But you didn’t.


When the video recorder widens the angle I get to see there were neighbors standing by, looking on.  

You pull away from the police, go around the front of the vehicle, the police close behind pressing you to stop. Why didn’t you?

Where the officers scared of you? Did you think that? Scared of taking you on in a physical fight?

I thought they were scared but you’re a big fellow. And they have the weapons. You don’t.

Why didn’t you stop?

Did you not value your life?

One policeman pulls at your undershirt but you keep on moving away.

And then you open the door to your vehicle, your back to them, who knows what you were looking for, and they shoot you in the back.

Why didn’t you stop!?

Could they have tackled you, physically, as you moved away from them defiantly?

Yes, but maybe they were just too scared that you might overcome them, the whole lot of them, and hurt and embarrass them.

Don’t know yet what role you played in the original dispute that prompted the call to the police. But when a gun is pointed at you, you have to stop.

Did you not value your life?

I do not agree with the police shooting you in the back.

But it would’ve taken a courageous and enlightened officer to say to himself or herself,, ‘I will restrain this man who’s not heeding my command, I will restrain him physically with all my might, at the risk of me suffering an injury, and I will do that because these are not normal times and because we, the police, are on the spotlight for having used excessive force with African Americans in particular.’

I do not agree with the police shooting you in the back.

But it would’ve taken a courageous and imaginative officer to say to himself, ‘this person I’m dealing with, who’s walking away from me even as I point my gun at him and command him to stop, does not seem to value his life, so I will tackle him physically, even at the risk of my suffering an injury since he is a big and strong fellow, but I will tackle him physically anyway, because these are not normal times and we, the police force of this country, have abused our power too often with African Americans in particular.

But that kind of policeman didn’t show up on that call on Sunday.

And you got shot instead.

It is very sad.

Why did they have to shoot? Seven times!

Why didn’t you stop?

Madness. Madness. Madness.

It has got to stop.

Leaders from all sectors have been stepping up in the wake of ongoing police brutality. Leaders of the African American community in particular, must now step out to say, ‘we are working together to remedy long standing grievances and we will overcome but, please, when a gun is pointed at you and you’re asked to stop, please stop. Value your life.’

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.

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