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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Open Letter to Attorney General Mike DeWine

Craig McCoy
The following letter was submitted by my friend, Craig McCoy, as part of a school assignment to write to a public figure regarding a current injustice. The students were instructed to model the letter after Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' quoting from it as appropriate. 

Craig's letter on the killing of John Crawford (background here) has since been mailed to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. I encourage you to read the whole thing and then submit your own letter to AG DeWine here.

Dear Attorney General Mike DeWine,

There is a concern that that I would like to discuss with you. It is about the incident in Beavercreek Ohio, when John Crawford was shot by police. While shopping in the Walmart, John picked up an airsoft gun off a shelf and was walking around with it. Someone by the name of Ronald Ritche placed a false 911 call. He stated that there was a man, pointing a gun at children and random people in the store.

The police responded, in full force, with military grade weapons. Instead of asking any questions, they shot Crawford, even after Crawford yelled that the gun was fake. So my question to you is would you pressure the Beavercreek City Council to withdraw funding for a militarized police and set aside that money for better police training?

It is obvious that the police caused panic. There needs to be reformed protocol and training in the Beavercreek police department. A famous quote from Martin Luther King’s (MLK) Letter to Birmingham Jail: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” A woman, who had her children with her, died of a heart attack when she heard gun shots by the police. Earlier when the woman passed Crawford, she didn’t think twice about him having a gun. She just kept shopping, when they passed each other. 

There were more 911 calls when the cops shot Crawford then when Ritchie placed the 911 call. There had to have been racial profiling. Racial profiling when, Ritchie called, and when the cops responded. Another famous quote from MLK’s letter to Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

When did he get the chance to explain his side of the story? Instead of asking questions the officers used racial profiling: Young black male, in a Walmart with a gun equals shoot him. The cop had to think the worst, when he got the call to respond to the scene. Racial profiling is still a real thing.

From a collection of 'last words'
The police are trained professionals on what is right and wrong in crisis situations. Even then, did the store customers at the time think it was a crisis situation? Why was this treated like a crisis, with no other evidence? Wouldn’t you think that if he was really causing trouble, that more than one person would call?

Even when Crawford said “it’s not real”, they didn’t even take the word said by Crawford in consideration. Wouldn’t this police training have a section about how to handle that consideration better?  To calm the situation down should be the first thing on the cops’ mind.  

You have to remember that Ohio is an open gun state. Which means that even if he had a gun on him, as long as he wasn’t causing harm to others, he was in full rights of the law. He was just shopping in the Walmart. Would it have been different if it was a white man that had the airsoft gun?
“When you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodiness - then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” MLK
Being black myself, there is always the fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have to sometimes keep in mind to keep space from people at night, so they don’t get nervous. I remember to keep my hood down in the store, so I don’t worry anybody around me. It’s still a real thing when it comes to racial profiling. It is somewhat encoded when you’re a child. But better trained police would not make assumptions by color.

What is the purpose of S.W.A.T. if your normal police have the same resources? After 9/11, normal police have been getting military grade weapons to fight terrorists. Like anyone when you get new toys, you want to try them out. There is no reason for of local police force to have weapons of this power. Sure you could argue that there may be a time that, that military type force is needed, but at the same time with no confirmed disturbance, to respond like that and to act like that, is crazy.

It seems like there is no justice when you are a different skin color. We shouldn’t tell how a person is going to act just by skin color.  While reading a news article, I saw a demonstration poster that said “justice not served here.” That is true, I feel that there is no 911 number to call when you’re black. Just because you may think the system is ok, doesn’t make what happened right.
Attorney General Mike DeWine

There may be a time when I really need the police, but they might think I’m the bad guy in the situation. We should be able to trust the judgment of the police. We hope that they are the ones taking the middle ground to help and to protect us. Overall, the most important job in my opinion, is to protect and to serve.

But we need keep the people in mind when it comes to safely. We should be able to live in a world that you can walk in a public place, without the fear of getting shot, getting in trouble for no reasons. I hope that some of these reasons above will give you reason to pressure the Beavercreek city council and police force.

I know with your guidance, the police will be able to change the way that law enforcers view people of a different skin color. I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read my paper. I hope that you can help this serous matter.

                 Craig McCoy

UPDATE: Attorney General Mike DeWine's office sent the following response to Craig McCoy's letter:


  1. Well done, Craig. I have posted his letter to my FB. Maybe hearing about being racially profiled by another young man of color will finally spur others in positions of power to being to fight the ongoing systemic racism that is literally killing young people of color every day.

  2. Thanks for sharing with others

  3. Thanks indeed, Grace! So glad to have Craig's perspective here!


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