Story by Ennovy Bowman General Manager, 22 West Radio
This Valentine’s Day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz took the lives of 17 high school teens and wounded 17 more.
On March 18, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was killed by two Sacramento police officers after his phone was mistaken for a gun.
Despite both being sadly recurring events within the nation, one is gathering more support
than the other. Excuse me as I take a moment to speak in support of the latter.
In July of 2013, Martin v. Zimmerman, a case with a well-known story in history, transformed the nation. The internet erupted with a hashtag and three letters in an attempt to remind this nation that Black Lives Matter.
Citizens in more than 100 cities took to the streets, begging for proper justice, and over time the cries grew louder as more names were added to the list. The officers behind the guns were given salaries to protect and serve, not to use their prejudices to justify unloading their weapons. Despite the reasoned demands for justice, this protest was met with the counter that “All Lives Matter,” a statement that is undeniable, yet grossly disrespectful considering the protest came out of tragedy that regularly affects communities of color.
Fast forward to today, when “March For Our Lives” is taking a stand and making headlines with support from millions. Hearing the reactions to these brave children raising their voices for the good of the nation gives me chills for reasons that aren’t all entirely pleasant. Yes, gun reform needs to happen. No one deserves to have their life taken simply because buying a gun is easier than buying a pack of cigarettes in many parts of the nation. Still, I invite you to visualize the full picture.
Nikolas Cruz, after taking 17 lives, was placed under arrest and is currently locked in a cell, enjoying at least three meals a day and a bed. The officers responsible for shooting a young man holding a phone seven times in the back are likely to be placed on paid leave. Stephon Clark will be laid to rest, his children will grow up without a father and the reality I learned on a TV screen in 2013 will define their entire perspective.
Now tell me who it seems the current justice system is built to protect.
Lady Justice stands blind as those in charge of enforcing her standards tilt the scale in their favor. This is about more than race, class and ethnicity. This is about inclusion.
I urge anyone who believes that all lives are worth the same to fight to include Stephon Clark, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Jordan Edwards, DeCynthia Clements, John Crawford III, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Korryn Gaines, Terence Crutcher, Jonathan Ferrell, Ezell Ford, Saheed Vassell with Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet and Aaron Feis.
Acknowledge that there are gun issues on both sides of the justice system, and hold all parties accountable.