Renisha McBride was her daddy’s little baby. The 19-year-old was the younger of the two inseparable McBride sisters. Ne-Ne – as her friends and family knew her – was a 5-foot-4 bundle of energy, a cheerleader who had a knack of getting you to laugh even when you were mad at her. She’d figured out how to wrap her father around her finger early on, and she’d been able to convince him to buy her two cars (the second a replacement for the first, which she totaled). She was a doting auntie to her nephew, and had dreams of becoming a police officer one day.
Renisha McBride was murdered on November 2, 2013, for asking for help. She had been at a party when she got into a fight with a friend and left early. Driving with her blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, she collided with a parked car around 1 AM. Renisha called a friend, telling her that she had been in an accident, but was lost, confused, and her face was bleeding; her phone battery died shortly after. A witness called 9-1-1 to report the crash, and noted the driver seemed “discombobulated” and in a “confused state.” The police marked this a low priority incident, and cops did not show up for forty minutes, and by then Renisha was gone. She wandered off for three hours, knocking on doors and looking for help. Around 3:40, her banging on a door of a tidy brick house awoke its single homeowner, a 54-year-old white man. He opened the door and shot her in the face with a shotgun through his screen. He was convicted of second-degree murder.
Black lives matter.
Laquan McDonald was resilient. Born to a single 14-year-old mother in Chicago’s dangerous West Side, he and his younger sister were second-generation wards of the state. They were shuttled in and out of foster homes, suffering from neglect, abuse, and sexual assault, all before the age of 6. Laquan eventually found a stable home living with his great-grandmother. He was a hugger and extremely protective of his sister; but he was also traumatized by his childhood, alternatively skittish and angry. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Over time, his replaced his PTSD meds with marijuana and other drugs. He spent much of his teens in and out of juvie for fighting and minor drug offenses. But he kept striving to be better: the word his teachers, therapists, and even judges most often used to describe him, again and again, was “resilient.” He was a jovial and hardworking student and had earned a scholarship for his work in an after-school youth advocacy program. He had learned to install and paint drywall, and was hoping to turn his part-time apprenticeship into a full time career.
Laquan McDonald was murdered by police on October 20, 2014 for carrying a knife. Responding to 9-1-1 calls about a man breaking into vehicles, cops confronted Laquan, who was carrying a 3-inch knife. Laquan slashed the tires of the cruiser and ran off, but more cops quickly caught up and lined the street. Laquan continued walking, moving away from the police cars. As cops discussed Tasing him, one cop instead simply walked forward and opened fire on Laquan as he walked by, unloading 16 rounds in 15 seconds, most striking the boy after he had already collapsed. The department attempted to hide the dash-cam footage and falsified the official report to claim the cop had given Laquan ample warning, and that kid had charged cops with the knife. When the dash-cam footage was released, the Department of Justice implicated the department in a cover-up. The shooter was convicted of murder, but the cops implicated in the cover-up were acquitted.
Black lives matter.
Pamela Turner liked to help out. The 44-year-old Baytown, Texas, resident was the mother of two children, and a brand-new grandmother. She was a sweet and caring, the kind of person who made friends quickly. (She was also loved to cook for folks, which also probably helped with making friends!) She had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2005, and several episodes over the years with ended in police custody, but Pamela was never violent. Instead, liked to help beautify her community by picking up trash around the neighborhood, or taking her dog Chi-chi out for walks.
Pamela Turner was murdered by police on May 13, 2019, while picking up trash. A cop who lived in the same apartment complex approached her over outstanding warrants for “criminal mischief.” Pamela, who had been hassled more than 10 times by this same cop over the previous 4 months after a bad encounter with the apartment manager, moved away from the cop, shouting “I walking to my house!” The cop shot her with an X26P Taser, sending her to the curb. The cop attempted to handcuff Pamela, but she struggled to get free, crying “I’m pregnant!” She grabbed the X26P, a Taser that required manually loading each round and was, therefore, incapable of firing. The cop fired 5 shots at point blank range, including one shot to her face. The cop still has not been charged with any crime, nor has his bodycam footage been released.
Black lives matter.
Joseph Mann was an ambitious guy with a thousand-watt smile. The 51-year-old was youngest of 5 children, and spent most of his life in and around Sacramento, California. Joe was an underground DJ in college, spinning an eclectic mix of jazz, rock, and classical. He also earned a degree in Business and Communications, and worked as a technician for the California Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, he fell in love with a drug addict and spiraled into her world, eventually losing his car, his job, and his home. Lost, Joe returned to live with his mother for support and to rebuild, but she was in ill health and died less than a year later. The loss of his mother sent Joe adrift. He would disappear for months at a time, homeless, purposeless, penniless. His oldest sister kept his belongings in a suitcase in a make-shift room for him in her garage, and Joe would materialize from time to time to tell her he was okay, and to look through his photos in the suitcase to remind him of who he once was.
Joseph Mann was murdered by police on July 11, 2016, for throwing a thermos. He had been reported walking down a street doing karate moves with a 4-inch blade and shouting. Two cops arrived, and told Joe to drop the knife and get on the ground; he threw his thermos at them and continued shouting. A second pair of cops arrived, and the driver declared: “Fuck this guy, I’m going to hit him.” He attempted to run over Joe… twice… with his cruiser, but Joe avoided being hit and bolted across the median and attempted to run away. The two cops exited the cruiser and shot him 14 times in the back as he fled. Neither cop was charged with a crime.
Black lives matter.
The South Dakota School of Motoring and Transportation (SDSMT) recommends that all drivers
– Pass a driver’s test before driving this fall.
– Maintain a safe following distance between drivers.
– Not drive if they feel ill.
– Wear their seat-belt while driving.
– Work with traffic investigators in the event of an accident.
“Disappointing! Don’t you want drivers to think for themselves, not just putter around like sheep? Pledge to take a driving test AND have my data mined by the cops at an accident scene? This goes too far!”
“I’d let my 6-year-old go driving on the highway RIGHT NOW if you’d let him.”
“If seat-belts work so well, what are YOU worried about?”
“I believe our bodies take care of driving themselves given the proper appendages – my hands can work the wheel and my feet can work the pedals. That is my right.”
“Roadside death stats mean nothing as they are funded by Big Seat-belt. Don’t push your ideals on me, buddy.”
“I believe in science… the science of building crash immunity. If enough drivers survive their crashes, we’ll ALL be fine.”
“CARVID-19 is a political hoax.”
“With all due respect, not everyone can wear a seat-belt for health reasons. And I really hope that seat-belt shaming them isn’t going to be the new norm at SDSMT.”
“I’ve never taken a driver’s test, and I’ve never got into a crash. I’ve been driving for 26 years. My son doesn’t either. Not sure I can get on that bandwagon.”