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Brandishing? Watch Your Language in Salem 2014

The Cleveland Blaze: ‘A 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be a replica gun died Sunday after he was shot by a …’

Another child was murdered senselessly. If the media and authorities can call holding a toy gun in a store “brandishing,” I can call responding to unsubstantiated claims with gunfire “murder.” The word brandishing signals an aggressive act, by its very definition.


The 12-year-old young Cleveland, Ohio boy, Tamir Rice, was playing with a toy with other boys. A 911-caller clarified that he was reporting a situation about a child and suggested that the gun that scared him was possibly a toy, most likely hoping to avoid a situation like another recent murder, the case of 22-year-old John Crawford. It didn’t work.

These frantic callers bring to mind the accusers of 322 years ago in Salem, Massachusetts. Over 150 people were tried for and/or accused of witchcraft; 18 were hanged (murdered.) Eyewitness testimony, then, confirmed the fits and spells of these people in the same way that today’s witnesses identify young men and women as violent. Remember Trayvon? The Robert Zimmerman 911-call had the same pattern of accusation and paranoia as the Salem witch hunters had.

The caller’s accusations should be vetted carefully before being passed on to the police. U.S. citizens are told that the authorities are professionals who are prepared to handle such situations. Citizens are assured that the police are trained effectively to protect and serve. More and more, we hear that these professionals are frightened and worried. They’re fearing unarmed citizens because they, too, see view the accused as violent and dangerous – even at 12 years old.

Thus, in this case, instead of identifying the child as a victim, young Tamir is the subject in most of the headlines that all use that word brandishing, signalling antagonistic actions.

Q13 FOX: ‘Authorities identify 12-year-old shot and killed by police after brandishing fake gun….’ ’12-year-old brandishing fake gun is shot and killed by Cleveland police officer….’

Each of those stories begins with the 12-year-old, as if he were an instigator; only the Cleveland Blaze refers to him as a boy. Yet, by all reports, the toy gun was in the young boy’s waistband. It’s doubtful that he expected a rookie cop to approach him and shoot him twice in the torso. It’s more likely that he was afraid.

According to the police report,

Tomba said one officer fired twice after the boy pulled the fake weapon from his waistband but had not pointed it at police. The boy did not make any verbal threats, but he grabbed the replica handgun after being told to raise his hands, Tomba said.

USA Today

Video in both Rice’s and Crawford’s case shows that neither the young boy nor the young man walked around intentionally scaring or hurting other shoppers. They couldn’t fire these guns (obviously, they were toys.) But the more the images of the scary, violent black men saturate the media and the more they are designated the offender even when they’re going to get Skittles or play with friends at a community center, the more eyewitnesses will call with accusations, certain of fits and spells. For those who believe that language doesn’t matter, just turn the statement around. “Armed police shoot and kill unarmed 12-year-old playing with toy.”




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This entry was posted on 11/24/2014 by in Cup of Coffee and tagged , , , .


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