Day 4 - Last Words: John Crawford III

Day 4 - Last Words: John Crawford III

"It's not real."

John Crawford III, 1992-2014

On August 5, 2014 Ronald Ritchie placed a call from Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio to report "a gentleman walking around with a gun in the store ... He just pointed it at, like, two children." Two Beavercreek police officers arrived to the store and Officer Sean Williams shot John Crawford III, then restrained him.

LeeCee Johnson, mother of Crawford's two young children, was on the phone with him at the time and heard him say to police, "It's not real." Crawford was transported to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH, where he was pronounced dead. 

The 911 caller later stated that "At no point did [Crawford] shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody." Beavercreek police later stated that Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to drop the weapon and lie on the ground. Surveillance tapes from the store show the officers shouting and shooting within the span of a few seconds. The gun was an unloaded toy BB air rifle gun, which is sold in Wal-Mart stores nationwide. Ohio is an "open carry" state, where open carry of firearms is legal with or without a license. 

Sources: Washington Post, Democracy Now

Parnell: You loved him.
Juanita: Yes.
Parnell: I didn’t know.
Juanita: Ah, you’re so lucky, Parnell. I know you didn’t know. Tell me, where do you live, Parnell? How can you not know all the things you do not know?
— James Baldwin, Blues for Mister Charlie, 1964

What an effort it takes not to know: Not to know that the gun Crawford was holding was a toy. Not to know that it was sold in the store. Not to know that Ohio is an open carry state. Not to know that the 911 caller lied about Crawford pointing the gun at children. Not to know that you are calling in a lie to 911. Not to know how long to wait before shooting. Not to know that the surveillance tapes will show just how trigger-happy you were. Not to know that you are restraining a man that you have already put on the road to death. Not to know that the mother of his children will hear him die. Not to know that we will hear him, too. How can we not know all the things we do not know?

God, open the eyes of those who claim not to see what is happening in front of them, because black lives are in their hands. Unstop the ears of those who claim they do not hear the sound of injustice ringing, because their bullets take black bodies down one by one. Unlock the minds of those who claim they do not know why black lives should matter, do not know what difference gun control will make, and do not know why police are so distrusted.

Open my eyes, unstop my ears, unlock my mind, that I may know your truth, and be set free. Amen.
Day 5 - First Steps: Attend

Day 5 - First Steps: Attend

Day 3 - First Steps: Learn

Day 3 - First Steps: Learn