Yesterday, I was saddened to learn about the police-involved shooting of a black male youth in Baltimore. On the one-year anniversary of the Freddie Gray riots, I was concerned that this shooting could create another uprising. Thankfully, my former home remained calm.
The youth was brandishing a BB gun, which unfortunately looked like a real gun. When police officers commanded him to stop running and to drop the gun, the youth did not respond to the commands. Ultimately, he was shot twice with non-life-threatening injuries.
This post, interestingly enough, is not about police shootings. If you follow me on Facebook, you know I am a victims’ advocate. In fact, this post isn’t really about the victim. That may be another post or article. Rather, I want to focus on the third party within this sad tale—the BB gun.
In an age where Tamir Rice was shot for playing with a toy gun—one that was even identified by a 9-1-1 caller as probably being fake. Would you allow your child to play with a gun that looks real? In fact, would you play with a BB gun in the streets? I posed this question on Facebook, and most agreed that in this climate, we are all too scared to let our children play with any type of toy guns—BB guns, water guns, or NERF guns. They could be black, yellow, orange, or green. We are all scared of how the community, and in turn, law enforcement will respond when a 9-1-1 call is received about a black boy brandishing a gun outside.
Yet, we have greater problems on our hand. How can we get back to a time when there will not be a fear about our children playing with toy guns? What can we do so that our children are not afraid of police officers? Our children should see the police as their friends and protectors. If we do not see that, how can we expect our children to believe that? We know there are many good police officers in the streets, but people like Daniel Holtzclaw, Brian Encina, George Zimmerman, and Daniel Pantaleo have tainted the profession.
There is no immediate solution. Rather, we must all work together. The community, the schools, the police, and our government officials have to change the underlying tones that are running rampant throughout our cities and suburbs. Until then, I am fearful that we will be sharing many more stories about ending toy gun violence.
Idea for featured image from publichealthwatch