By John “Hennry” Harris
On July 25, 2015, unarmed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond was fatally shot by a police officer in the parking lot of a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant in Seneca, S.C.
The Seneca Police Department (SPD) said the officer was conducting a drug investigation and shot Hammond in self-defense.
“He was a uniformed officer, he was in a marked vehicle, was out of his vehicle on foot approaching the suspect’s vehicle — weapon drawn given it was a narcotics-type violation,” Seneca Police Chief John Covington said to CNN affiliate WHNS in Greenville. He added that the officer is now on administrative leave.
Thomas’ case sounds like the familiar story bombarding your social media timelines and news sources, except Hammond is white.
It is common for such an event to happen in the Black community to spark outrage, protests and sensationalized coverage, but that has not been the case for Hammond.
Why is that?
Where is the ‘white outrage’ and protests??
Thomas’ case is giving a different perspective on the police brutality issue in America, especially amid the current #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter debate.
Eric S. Bland, a lawyer for the Hammond family is demanding that the news media treat the killing of Hammond as they have treated the recent shootings of unarmed Black men – and supporters across racial lines on social media agree.
Many feel that Hammond’s death has fallen through the media cracks because it was “white-on-white” and Bland feels that in the shooting of “every kid who is Black or white, everybody should be equally offended.”
This is the exact line of thinking when the #BlackLivesMatter campaign was started in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. because of the lack of justice and blind eyes that refused to acknowledge the far too apparent issue of police violence against people of color.
There is nothing inherently racist with the #AllLivesMatter campaign, except for the manner in which many used it to deflect away from the police murders while showing little regard to senseless killings by the police against unarmed Blacks.
Perhaps, because in some twisted way, white America thinks police brutality is just a Black problem and that they are in some way immune from the issue. While whites are not necessarily targeted in the same manner as Blacks, the danger of police brutality is real for all Americans and has always been.
The lack of ‘white outrage’ also comes from the fact that largely that community has not had to deal with decades of unreported or under-reported acts of violence that finally are being brought to light. If it wasn’t for the continued and renewed activism of Black folks, bloggers and Black organizations demanding accountability, police brutality and mass incarceration there would not be a national storyline.
Hammond was killed during a drug bust, albeit a very small sting, but it is interesting to note that the media is not calling Hammond a thug or assassinating his character like the media constantly does people of color who were subjected to murder or abuse during minor traffic stops.
Bland may feel there is disparity on the coverage of Hammond’s murder by the media and this may be true. I propose that if the media did cover Hammond’s story like the shooting of unarmed Black men then there would truly be ‘white outrage’ when it is realized that unarmed, Black men are not the only ones at the wrong end of an out of control police officer’s gun.