Jonathan Ferrell: Shattered Dreams and Disposable Black People

Too often, black dreams are shattered. Too often, we are reminded that our lives are expendable and that we are disposable. The two stories below are prime examples of that harsh reality. The Huffington Post reports that:

A partial grand jury in North Carolina has decided not to indict Randall Kerrick, the officer who fatally shot Jonathan Ferrell in September 2013.


After meeting for eight hours on Tuesday, the jury reportedly submitted a document to the county clerk of the court, not only stating it would not indict the officer on the charge of voluntary manslaughter, but also attached a handwritten letter respectfully requesting the district attorney submit a bill of indictment for a lesser charge.


However, Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement that the decision was not made by a full grand jury, and that his office plans to resubmit the request as soon as possible.


“Today, our prosecutors learned that the grand jury that considered the indictment on charges of voluntary manslaughter was less than a full panel. It would be in the best interest of justice to resubmit this case to a full grand jury, which we plan to do as soon as possible,” Cooper said.


Officer Kerrick was charged after shooting Ferrell 10 times when authorities responded to a breaking and entering call. Ferrell who had been involved in an accident, was seeking help in a nearby neighborhood when a woman called the police, thinking he was a robber. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when Kerrick shot him. Ferrell died at the scene. Both the local NAACP chapter and Ferrell’s family have questioned whether race played a role in the shooting.

In a rare move, the partial grand jury decided that there was insufficient evidence to indict the officer for voluntary manslaughter. I do not understand how they could possibly reach such a decision. That officer shot Mr. Ferrell 10 times. Mr. Ferrell was unarmed.  Mr. Ferrell did not pose a threat to anyone.

Because of Mr. Ferrell’s skin color that caller wrongly assumed that he was a robber.  Because of Mr. Ferrell’s skin color that police officer probably assumed that Mr. Ferrell was dangerous.  Mr. Ferrell was merely seeking assistance after a car accident.  Because of Mr. Ferrell’s skin color that jury had no problem allowing that officer walk.

Like the Trayvon Martin case, the Amadou Diallo case, the Sean Bell case and other countless cases, we are reminded that the white man’s word is sacrosanct and black life is worthless.

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Tragically, white police officers and vigilantes are not the only people who devalue black life. Some lost brothers and sisters do not value the lives of their own people.  In another article, the Huffington Post reports that:

The shootings of two brothers within three weeks of one other has left a California mother mourning the loss of her only children.


Dinyal New, 41, admitted that she didn’t have the strength to positively identify both of her sons, instead asking relatives to do so for her, SFGate reports.


On Dec. 31, 2013, New’s younger son, 13-year-old Lee Weathersby, was shot dead while he was walking home from the Oakland Boys & Girls Club. Nineteen days later, her older son, Lamar Broussard, 19, died when the car he and a friend were in was sprayed with bullets, KGO reports.

Similar violence occurs in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and many other major inner cities around this nation. Such violence has become so routine and regular that many have accepted it as the new normal. Those endless tragedies do not receive the same level of attention as the Newtowns and Columbines.

That is yet another reminder of how insignificant black life is in this country. Instead of addressing criminogenic factors such as unemployment, poverty, inferior schools and the influx of firearms, the politicians and pundits continue to devalue black life by parroting empty slogans about personal responsibility and black pathology. As long as the underling conditions are not addressed, our cities will continue to be killing fields.


[Originally posted at New Possibilities]