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Black Blood in the Streets

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It’s July of 2016, and black men are being killed because they threaten the fundamental bedrock of the modern authoritarian racial hegemony in the US: Only whites may be armed, only whites may have authority in society.

Any threat to that shaky premise must be swiftly dealt with. Early on the morning of July 4, an off-duty NYPD officer killed a black man in his car with his family after a road rage incident. Delrawn Small  struck the off duty officer during the conflict and the policeman retaliated by shooting him to death. Even off-duty, the policeman refused to accept a threat to white police authority and responded with murder.

In the early hours of July 5, Alton Sterling was confronted by two policemen outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge. Video from the incident shows the two officers bringing Sterling to the ground, fully restrained, and then emptying six rounds into his chest and back. Sterling was carrying a firearm, but he was empty-handed and incapacitated when he was murdered.

36 hours later, on the evening of July 6, police pulled over a car containing Philando Castile, his girlfriend, and their child. Castile had a firearm he was licensed to carry. He alerted the police to the fact that he was armed as he reached for his ID. Castile was shot four times in the chest when he reached for his wallet. He was killed within seconds of the police approaching his vehicle. A video posted on Facebook Live by his girlfriend in the immediate aftermath of the shooting showed the young man dying from his wounds.

What did these men have in common? They each challenged white supremacy, either by action or in the imagination of the police. Small fought back in a road rage incident. Sterling was simply “there.” Castile had a legal weapon.

It’s obvious the criminality is in the eye of the beholder. Almost 75 percent of all police officers in America are white. Is it any wonder that the majority of police shootings victimize people of color? Is it any wonder that a full 40 percent of the 1000 fatality victims of police violence in 2015 were specifically black men?

The police are the last vanguard of white supremacy against a demographic chapter in American history that won’t benefit whites. The election of Barack Obama began this realization of the future for many white Americans. Hate groups have been on a steady rise in popularity and membership since 2008.

The change in racial statistics won’t arrive without a fight. The victims will be men like Sterling, Small, and Castile, murdered for representing the march of demography. Their killers will be white men in blue uniforms, acting to preserve the impotent power of the American white.

The future can’t get here soon enough.

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Eoin Higgins has a master’s degree in history from Fordham University. He lives in New York.

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