No indictment in the John Crawford case… because ‘Merica

I haven’t posted much lately, but it seems like every time I do I’m mad. Today is no different. At the time of this writing, the news of the officers that killed John Crawford in a Walmart in Ohio getting off scott-free is only hours old.

John Crawford

If you’re not familiar with John Crawford, I’ll give you a bit of background: Back in August, John Crawford, 22, was shopping in Walmart in Dayton, OH. Walmart’s surveillance videos (also released today) show Crawford walking around, talking on the phone, when he decided to pick up a pellet gun in the hunting section of the store. Usually those guns come in boxes. For whatever reason, this one wasn’t. Maybe another customer had taken it out. Maybe it was the only one left. Who knows? But it doesn’t appear that Crawford took the pellet gun out of the box himself.

He resumed his shopping, walking around the store, drawing concern from at least one shopper in particular who became fearful of his presence. He called 911. The police showed up and shot Crawford dead (that link is a bit graphic).

The police shot this dude to death for holding a fake gun. A fake gun that he had just picked up in the very same store. A fake gun that, according to that second video I linked, he never even pointed at police or anyone else. A fake gun which, oh by the way, is fake.

How is that not a crime? What exactly did Crawford do wrong? You may say, “Well, he should have known better than to walk around with a gun that looked so real.” Or you could say, “He should have never picked up the gun, because it wasn’t in the box.” Or you could even say, “The police were well within reason to engage him. They didn’t know he wasn’t a threat until it was too late. They acted to protect themselves and everyone else in the store.”

And if you say any of those things to me, I’m going to give you the king of all side eyes. But today a Grand Jury said almost exactly that, as they decided to bring no charges at all to any of the cops involved. They contemplated charges of murder, reckless homicide and negligent homicide. But nope, they decided that nothing further should happen to Crawford’s killers. Once again it seems perfectly acceptable to kill black people if you claim they pose a threat to you, even if that threat is imaginary.

If you still think black people are overreacting and misplacing anger here, let me tell you a story:


Earlier this year, in Texas, two white dudes walked into a Chipotle holding assault rifles. They were members of an organization called Open Carry Texas. Their goal was to proudly show off their right to open carry. Were the police called? Doesn’t seem that way. Were they gunned down in an effort to protect other customers as well as police? Nope, unless that part of the story didn’t make news. They walked away peacefully. Went home and lived happily ever after.

But this isn’t an isolated incident. There are stories from all over the country about white people displaying their right to open carry by proudly brandishing weapons that should be reserved for American soldiers. And speaking for Crawford’s case, given that Ohio is an open carry state, he still would’ve been within his rights even if the gun were real. Also, WALMART SELLS REAL GUNS. He could have been purchasing a real gun and been within his rights.

I won’t even spend time going into how stupid the open carry law is. Why should anyone have the right to bring assault rifles into a restaurant or store or anywhere else? You carry a gun if you expect that at some point you’ll have to use it. If the plan is for me to go anywhere where it might be prudent for me to carry an assault rifle, then scratch my name off the list of participants. I don’t want to go.

The real hot button point with this whole issue goes back to something I posted earlier this year after the Richard Sherman interview. Black men are feared in this country. If you disagree, then you have the rosiest of rose-colored glasses. Matter of fact, if you disagree, I challenge you to name for me five cases in the past five years in which an unarmed white man or white, teenage boy has been shot and killed by police or a regular citizen who felt threatened. Just five. Because I can name you five black males that have died in that manner over the course of just the last 18 months.

America has a fear problem when it comes to black men. And, believe it or not, that’s not a problem that’s on black men to fix.

-Erik (@WalkSays)

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Erik Walker

Erik is black.

1 Comment

    • ruth
      September 24, 2014

      But it’s ok to carry REAL weapons in public places? Oh the irony of it all. Makes me all kinds of sick.


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