Are Bahamians too passive?
Bahamians made for a captive television audience as racial protests gripped the United States, spreading across multiple cities. Some of us living abroad also felt compelled to get involved and join protests. After all, we as black people frequent the U. S. where police officers have unjustly killed blacks on camera for the world to see.
Locally, when a police officer shot and killed three men sitting inside a heavily tinted Honda Accord on Saturday, sure there was interest and questions were asked on social media but where was the outrage?
In case you missed it, a white Honda Accord parked near Spikenard Cemetery where a burial was taking place raised the suspicion of officers on patrol. One of the officers approached the vehicle but the driver sped off. Police came across that vehicle again on Cowpen Road and one of the officers approached it again.
Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle, who hasn’t really put in an appearance at a crime scene since his CDU days in 2016, told reporters the officer was ambushed by the vehicle’s occupants who opened fire on him, prompting him to return gunfire.
According to Rolle, no officers were injured during the exchange but that one officer managed to kill all three men in the vehicle.
It raises several questions.
Was excessive force used? How was that one officer able to see inside such a heavily-tinted vehicle? Did the shooter inside the car roll down the window to open fire or did he start shooting with the windows up? If one gun was found in the car, does that mean the officer killed two unarmed men? How many of those bullet holes in the Honda came from the suspect’s gun and how many came from the police officer? How long does the public have to wait for a backlogged Coroner’s Court to hold an inquest into this matter?
The families of the men are no doubt outraged. One relative refused to believe her family member would shoot at a police officer. A family friend thought it was unfair for Rolle to tell the media that the men were known to police painting them in a negative light. Another took issue with the police chief’s comment that when you engage police you should prepare to meet your maker.
While some Bahamians have sided with police, others questioned the Commissioner’s version of events and called for police reform to reduce the number of police-involved shootings, but where is the outrage?
Are we too passive? Some of us have a tendency to say “that’s not my problem” until it lands at our doorstep. What if it was your father, son, brother, nephew or boyfriend who who was riddled with bullets on Saturday? Would you speak up then and only then?
What would it take for us as a people to come together and say enough is enough? What will it take for The Bahamas to have the tough conversation about what classifies as excessive force and what are the consequences for police officers who use it?
The officer in question may be justified in his actions but how many years will we have to wait until a court determines that?
It took the Supreme Court 13 years to rule that a police officer’s decision to shoot Jermaine Rahming, who was unarmed, in his back should’ve been the last resort.
Think about that. 13 years. Is that how long the families of the three men killed will have to wait before they learn if excessive force was used?
Let us pray no one else dies unjustly at the hands of police in the meantime.