By Danielle Merrill
Police brutality and racist violence should result in law enforcement reform and open educated discussions after the shooting of an unarmed Black man and the subsequent homicide of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to UAB students.
Jacob Blake is a 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times in the back by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to CBS News. In the subsequent protests that followed Blake’s shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white man, shot and killed two protestors the night of Aug. 25. He has since been charged with homicide, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“Are we just going to keep repeating this type of thing over and over again until something even more catastrophic happens?” said Cameron Johnson, a Black freshman majoring in music education.
Johnson said the best thing that white people can do for the Black Lives Matter movement is to keep speaking up in a positive, respectful, and informed manner.
“Don’t just latch onto something and spew it out. That can get you in serious trouble,” Johnson said. “I’ve had to call a few people out on that before. Like, do you even know what you’re actually saying?”
Chloe Duren, a white freshman majoring in political science, said she received a phone call from her father asking if she had heard about the most recent police shooting.
“I don’t think so,” Duren said. Her father said, “They grabbed him by the t-shirt and shot him seven times in the f—-ing back in front of his children.”
Peyton Perry, a white junior majoring in political science, said the Kenosha Police Department allowing Rittenhouse to go back home for the night and turn himself in the following morning was “a little too much.”
“You have a white man who goes and starts shooting people, regardless of what the cause was. He was underage, didn’t have a permit, and carried across state lines,” Perry said.
Marley Dunn, a white junior majoring in psychology, said the Kenosha Police Department’s reaction to Blake in comparison to Rittenhouse was very telling of the police department’s beliefs.
“I don’t know how you could ever view what Kyle Rittenhouse did as okay,” Dunn said.
Black Lives Matter protests responding to this new example of police brutality in Kenosha have sprung up all around the county in the days following.
“I think that it’s our job to support our Black brothers and sisters,” said Bailey Dumlao, an Asian American and Pacific Islander junior majoring in theatre performance. “We all have these universal threads that run through us, and a lot of the stuff that we think of as divisive is totally a construct.”
“This is the longest-running string of this kind of protest that I’ve ever seen in my life,” Dunn said. “I feel like they’re really keeping the conversation going.”
Race-based discussions is important when informing others on current events and need to be more empathizing, according to Duren. She said she uses her social media platform to spread important information regarding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I have a pretty good following on Instagram, so I specifically post stuff that’s helpful and educational,” Duren said.
Addressing race problems with conversation in the local community is important and should be talked about regardless of whether or not the subject is uncomfortable to speak about, according to Dumlao.
“Society,” Dumlao said, “is going to have to give up our comfort for change.”
Edited by Madison Goodgame, Ryan Michaels, & John H. Glenn