By Sandhya Bhaskar, freshman communications study major
Just one day after Donald Trump threateningly called for “law and order” in response to the current racial divide, Alfred Olango became the 200th black American to be shot and killed by the police in 2016 as of Oct. 2, according to The Guardian. Olango was a refugee from Uganda who had survived a childhood of hunger and war, according to African news outlet, Quartz. He was shot in the suburbs of San Diego while unarmed and having a seizure.
The news of Olango’s death brought me back to the jarring image of Trump at the debate on Monday, pointing to the camera and repeating his desire for the police to “be strong”
Is “law and order” gunning down unarmed, epileptic men like Olango? Or is it re-implementing a racist, classist procedure like stop-and-frisk? When Trump’s rhetoric is broken down, it becomes clear that he wants a militarized police force that caters to some of his supporters’ aversion to black people. Though Trump-esque words have been repeatedly plastered to headlines and overexposed throughout this election cycle, racial bias has always been prominent in media when reporting on the black victims of our failing police system.
After unarmed Michael Brown was shot multiple times by a white police officer in Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2014, headlines proclaimed that Brown was “no angel,” because he smoked, drank, stole and was a rapper. When Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by watchman George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, Fox reporter Geraldo Rivera blatantly stated that Martin’s attire (his hoodie) was “as much responsible for his death as George Zimmerman,” and that it is “common sense for minorities to avoid wearing hoodies.” When 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot down in a park in 2014, the justification for his death was “his appearance as an adult” and “threatening stature.”
Cedrick Chatman, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile … the list is massive. Trump’s intentions to bring back a nationwide stop-and-frisk program that targets people of color won’t end this epidemic. He encourages police aggression under the semblance of protection, making Olango another hashtag among the hundreds that already exist.
Olango’s death made it clear that America is nowhere near the path to progress. If we are going to begin to fix a system that is steeped in racial prejudice, we must begin to hold police accountable for their actions. With someone like Trump having a very real possibility of becoming president, we may never get there.