Charles Kinsey Is Alive and Twitter Is Rejoicing — and That Says a Lot About the US

A cell phone recording of a North Miami police officer shooting Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man who was lying on the ground with his hands up, was released on Wednesday evening. 

Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was walking with an autistic patient who had left his group home, trying to calm him, when two police officers stopped them. The police said they were responding to a 911 call claiming that there was a man walking around the neighborhood with a gun and threatening suicide. The "gun" was, in fact, a toy truck that Kinsey's patient was holding.

After the video footage, which originally aired on WSVN, was released, people took to Twitter to express relief that Kinsey was still alive.

But user Wikipedia Brown said that just because Kinsey is alive doesn't mean that his case deserves less attention than black men and women who died by the hands of law enforcement. 

The news of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and dozens of others has rightfully received full media coverage and attention. Often in these cases, videos show exactly what happened. Then, police officers are able to tell their sides of the story, but victims are not able to speak on their own behalf. That Kinsey is alive to tell his story is so often not the case when it comes to extrajudicial police shootings.

These tweets also reveal a brutal truth about police shootings in the U.S. Unarmed black men and women — who are often just doing everyday actions — too often end up dead after interacting with the police. The sense of relief that Kinsey is alive is a byproduct of the disturbing and devastating state of policing and race relations in this country.

It isn't normal to fear death by the hands of uniformed men who are meant to protect and serve our communities. Now, it's time to take steps to change that.

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