Such is one question, among many, that I have heard from several non-white commentators and pundits since the killing of Daunte Wright - Why did he resist? There is a sad and straightforward answer - because when you are Black or Brown and the authorities pull you over, sometimes, your life flashes before your eyes. When you are Black or Brown, you don't know if the outcome will be life or death. I have heard that if he were following directions and not resisting, he would not have been shot - the wrong response.
Daunte Wright was pulled over for a vehicle violation connected to registration and insurance. He called his mother because he was afraid. His mother told him to give the phone to the officer when he stops. Daunte pulled over and was told to get out of the car; as he was being handcuffed, he resisted arrest. I cannot say what was going through Dante's mind; I cannot say I know exactly how he felt; I can say that Dante was afraid.
Some have stated, if his insurance and registration were valid, then he would not have been fearful. Please keep in mind that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Is the price for Black people driving in a pandemic with registration that has not been renewed due to closures, death?
The department of motor vehicles in various states has been backlogged for services such as renewal of driver's licenses and insurance. My driver's license and the plate were renewed a month past its expiration due to the pandemic and backlog. My spouse's license was up for renewal in August 2020, yet he could not obtain an appointment until late September 2020. We are both Black. This is my fear every time one or both are behind the wheel. Our vehicles are insured and our driver's licenses are valid and yet, like most of Black America, we are fearful and rightfully so.
If he only followed the law
Over the weekend, a video of United States Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario was released. In the video, Nazario did what many of us, regardless of race or ethnicity, have been taught when it comes to being pulled over and you are in a dark or sketchy area. If this takes place, pull up to a well-lit area, preferably a well-populated one. Police officers and personnel have made this recommendation also for safety purposes. Briefly, some individuals pose as officers and install accessories on their vehicles similar to that of a legitimate police car. Unfortunately, there are instances when imposters have pulled people over and significant harm, even death, befalls them. 2nd Lt. Nazario noticed police lights behind him. He put on his hazard lights, then drove approximately one mile and pulled into a well-lit gas station. What took place after was one reason why many people, especially Black or Brown, shudder when pulled over by the police. 2nd Lt. Nazario put his hands on the dashboard and calmly talked to the officer. This is what people who are Black and Brown are taught - show your hands at all times. Unfortunately, the scene escalated quickly. Officer Nazario was pepper-sprayed and forced to the ground. Apparently, he was pulled over for a vehicle registration violation. The temporary plate on the vehicle was visible. 2nd Lt. Nazario is somewhat physically okay - now - although emotionally, he is traumatized. He was met with pepper spray during the stop. In the end, he is still alive. There are occasions when the outcome ends in death.
2nd Lt. Nazario was afraid and he did not resist, and yet, he was accused of resisting arrest by the attending officers. Sadly, both scenarios have taken place with numerous individuals resulting in a precarious outcome. Both are scenarios that have taken place with deadly consequences . Another statement that has arisen is the notion that the officer who shot Daunte Wright did so accidentally. The officer intended to reach for their taser and not their gun. Sadly, this is a narrative that the Black community has heard over and over again - it was an accident. How many accidents does it take to realize there is a problem?
A nefarious history
The answer is rooted in lived experiences. In The Condemnation of Blackness, the author, Khalil Gibran Muhannad, states the following.
White people, by and large, do not know what it is like to be occupied by a police force. They do not understand it because it is not the type of policing they experience. Because they are treated like individuals, they believe that if 'I am not breaking the law, I will never be abused."
Data collected between 2010 and 2014 indicated that Black males aged ten years and older were nearly three times more likely to die due to police violence than that of their non-Black or White peers. (Buehler, 2017) This fear has its foundation in how policing came about. Slave Patrols were organized in South Carolina in the 1700s. The overall purpose of the Slave Patrols was to prevent enslaved Africans and Blacks from resisting, mainly in the form of running away from their owners who used them as property and for economic purposes of maintaining farmland. Enslaved Blacks and Africans were met with systemic degrees of violence in the forms of beatings and lynchings if they resisted by running away or speaking up.
The end of the Civil War brought about the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, which purportedly freed enslaved Blacks and Africans. New laws were enacted to replace the Slave Patrols. The rules were called the Black Codes. The purpose was to continue with White Supremacist ideology and practice by controlling the Black and African populations. Black Codes, also known as Jim Crow Laws, detailed how when and where previously enslaved Black and African people could travel, where they could work, eat, shop, or engage. It was essentially a legalized method of indentured servitude. This practice took place mainly in the Confederate Southern states. Activities of those who created the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws included enforcing curfews and surveillance of Black populations. They had violence against them if caught in violation of any of the laws.
The Black community has an expansive knowledge of this history. It is a documented accounting passed through the generations.
This historical account is why we aim to help break the adverse systemic and institutionalized inequities present in various industries against untapped population groups by sharing and teaching sound employee engagement practices to companies and organizations of diverse enterprises.
As a society, I have a rhetorical question, why did he resist? My response: Would it have made a difference?
“Black Code.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/black-code.
History.com Editors. (2018, February 28). Jim Crow laws. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws
“Slave Patrols - Sally E. Hadden.” - Sally E. Hadden | Harvard University Press, 2003, www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674012349&content=toc.
J. (2021). About: Johnson Transformative Equity Group, LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.jtequitygroup.com/about