To give attention to yet one more death by police without acknowledging the deaths that have happened since the jury announced its verdict on Derek Chauvin feels invalidating to those I do not mention. Each life is valuable and should not be lost at the hands of a cop whose very hand never wanders too far from their holster – as if the gun were an itch that needs scratching. The firing of which placates the gun until the next prickle. The gun and the hand form a bond of mutualism we ordinary mortals do not understand.
This writer mortal turned away from the death and dying for a week only to return to headlines that mocked the very system we would have hoped the Derek Chauvin trail might have begun to change – “1 verdict, 6 police killings within 24-hours of the verdict” – almost has me wondering if not a war against civilians for spite was waged? https://apnews.com/article/columbus-shootings-death-of-george-floyd-racial-injustice-arrests-89cc1cbfd8d7e452c4b4670e319cdfa9
To hashtag justice for yet another victim of a too quick finger or a brutal ill-judged mind floods the internet with words that begin to lose their meaning. The same as the thoughts and prayers that go out to grieving parents of children killed in a school shooting or the loved ones of the casualties of any shooting at the hands of someone who never should have had access to a gun – the words lose their meaning as the collective grief evaporates into a footnote of impotence.
Impotence and grief derived from the same source – the gun panacea. Whether it be an individual who does not have the mental competence to be in possession of a gun creating a danger to others and self or the police officer who finds it more expeditious to scratch the itch in their holster than to employ any de-escalation tactics, shooting someone becomes the fix to the current vexation.
The gun panacea is embedded deep within our culture and spurred by divisiveness, hate, scorn, and politics. Trickle down politics is the only way it can change. Only when the culture changes from the top down, from those who are responsible for policy and practice – when the police rethink how they protect and enforce and when legislators legislate to keep the weapons out of the hands of those who are incompetent – only then the ideology of brutality can morph into one of forebearance. Only then will the collective grief ease for killings which have become so commonplace that many go unnoticed and the fallen are the unknown soldiers in this war that doesn’t end.
Today, I am remembering Mario Arenales Gonzalez who died at the hands of Alameda, California police brutality in a similar manner to George Floyd.
Twenty-six year old Mario Gonzalez died on April 19 one day before Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd – his death an eerie similarity as he was pinned face down into the ground for about 4 minutes until he went unresponsive. He was not violent nor posing a threat. The body cam video was released late Tuesday, April 27 – a full week after what appears to be another murder.
“It’s a video that has drawn comparison to that of the George Floyd killing.”
Gonzalez’ family drew similarities from their son’s death to George Floyd’s death.
“His family said officers unnecessarily escalated what should have been a minor, peaceful encounter with the unarmed man.”
“The police killed my brother, in the same manner they killed George Floyd,” his brother Gerardo Gonzalez told reporters Tuesday.”
“He’s a lovely guy. He’s respectful, all the time,” Mario’s mother, Edith Arenales, said. “They broke my family for no reason.”
It’s time to stop breaking families for no reason – or for the injudicious reasons that the police employ when stopping someone and immediately going into the default mode of excessive force that more times than not ends in tragedy.
For those who wish to donate to help get justice for Mario Gonzalez in his family’s time of anguish, Juliet, a sensitive and aware 12-year old, located his family’s Go-Fund Me link to include in the article. When children are exposed to this daily trauma and are aware of the collective grief then isn’t it about time we find a new way to conduct ourselves as a society?
Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)