If Only

One of my personal friends has shared lots of “Why didn’t anyone riot over this white person’s death” memes lately. Most are incredibly inaccurate. So, after one person posted like six of these she posted something about how white people were apologizing so it should all be over and done with and how she understands. Uh, no, obviously not. If you understood you wouldn’t have shared a single meme about “White Person X being murdered and there not being rioting over it.” Those memes by their very nature are racist. They are also brutally insensitive.

Imagine you’ve had a love one murdered (we’ll take the case of Ricci Ellsworth as an example since I’ve seen it the most). In 1997, Ricci Ellsworth (54 years old at the time) went missing from her job as a night clerk at a Memphis (Tennessee) hotel. The picture associated with this meme is not Ricci Ellsworth. In 1998, her boyfriend Michael Rimmer (a white guy who wasn’t a cop) was arrested in her disappearance and was sentenced to death for her murder. According to Murderpedia.org there was a history of domestic abuse and Rimmer was a felon. In the early 2010s Rimmer was granted a second trial and again convicted of Ricci Ellsworth’s murder and again sentenced to death. Even 23 years later, her body has never been recovered. Now, her family has to surf social media and see insensitive people posting memes that are not her picture claiming falsely that she was murdered by a black Minnesota cop… and why? To promote a sense of white outrage and further the agenda of racists.

The meme picture is in fact associated with murder victim Justine Damond (or Justine Ruscyzk Damond) and she was killed by a black police officer in Minneapolis who was charged in her death and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison. Damond had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. She then approached the officer’s car and without warning was shot and killed by Mohammed Noor (they were parked in an alley and it was very late at night). Noor and his partner claimed she startled them and he reacted on instinct. Noor was in custody within a few hours of the shooting with charges coming before the next morning. Noor’s partner was white and defended his partner’s actions, but he was eventually convicted of 3rd degree murder (which is insane). Were there riots? No. Was there outrage? YES! Both black and white protesters gathered in multiple vigils for Justine Damond and petitioned the DA to up the charges which he refused.

It is also important to note police did not attempt to bust up these vigils, unlike peaceful prayer vigils held around the same time in the same state when Philando Castilo was killed during a traffic stop by a police officer who was not convicted. Furthermore, Damond’s family was awarded $20 million in a wrongful death suit, while Castilo’s family was awarded just $3 million. Justine Damond’s family saw the murderer go to prison (althoguh for not nearly long enough) and was awarded twenty million dollars while Castilo’s family did not get justice and learned the life of Philandro Castilo was worth a measly three million.

In 2017, Justine Damond was the only unarmed white person in all of the US to be killed by a police officer. There were more than 60 unarmed blacks killed by police during the same time period including Philandro Castilo in Minnesota. And as I mentioned in the Castilo case, police even attempted to bust up the prayer vigils saying the crowd didn’t have the correct permits (it is rare for permits to be sought or obtained for a prayer vigil for a murder victim).

Justice wasn’t really done in either of these cases, but the community was outraged in both. There just wasn’t a need for a huge protest in the case of Justine Damond. And perhaps we should all take a moment to research before sharing anything that involves a murder victim for accuracy for the sake of their family.

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