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Racism: Michigan Police Investigate Death of Unarmed Black Man at the Hands of White Police Officer Following an Argument | International

Michigan State Police have opened an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the death of a 26-year-old black man shot in the head by a white police officer. The events took place on April 4 in the city of Grand Rapids, with some 200,000 inhabitants, 18% of them black. Fear of a repetition of the anti-racist protests against police brutality such as those that marked the United States in 2020, after the death of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis, hovered over a meeting of the municipal council held on Tuesday, in which dozens of activists denounced the that they consider inaction by the authorities in the face of systematic police abuse.

The victim, Patrick Lyoya, who had arrived in the United States in 2014 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was driving a car through a residential area of ​​the city when he was ordered to stop by the uniformed officer, apparently on suspicion of a false license plate. After getting out of the car and starting an argument, the two struggled on the ground for control of the police officer’s Taser, which shot the African in the head at very close range as he placed his knee on his back. Three videos published this Wednesday by the municipal authorities show the sequence of events crudely. The officer, whose identity has not been revealed, has been suspended from his duties and is on paid leave, waiting for the result of the investigation to determine his imputation.

“Another black man has been killed by police, and the officer responsible must be held accountable,” the NAACP said in a statement. The NAACP is the reference group for the African-American collective in the US, where it was founded in 1909. “Watching the video causes pain. What makes this happen? What else could we do to prevent these situations?” declared a municipal official during the presentation of the videos. “I consider this man’s death a tragedy,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said.

But the African-American and African communities are watertight compartments in everyday life, and the very fact that Lyoya was Congolese may help defuse the protests, or at least not stoke them too much as happened in Minneapolis almost two years ago after the death of Floyd, African American. In fact, minutes after the videos were released, only dozens of people gathered in the center of the city, a number significantly lower than that harvested by the massive marches of the floyd case.

However, what is highlighted again are police excesses, at a time of upsurge in violence in the country in which President Joe Biden has opted to provide more resources to the police, in open opposition to the movement Defund the Police (defund the police), emerged on the left wing of his party after the Minneapolis event.

The controversial police reform, one of the star projects of the Democratic Administration, is up in the air, despite the vindictive impulse that the floyd case. “President Biden, sign the police reform executive order now. We understand that an executive order is not a substitute for legislation, but we must do everything in our power to protect our community. “The videos clearly show a fatal, excessive and unnecessary use of force against an unarmed black man who was confused by the situation and who feared for his life,” said the lawyer for the Lyoya family, rooted in Grand Rapids. .

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So far this year, more than 250 people have been shot dead by police officers on duty across the country, according to a database in the newspaper Washington Post. Between 2020 and 2021, the toughest years of the pandemic — when gun violence spiked, especially in big cities — around a thousand Americans lost their lives at the hands of the police. Another newspaper investigation New York Times revealed last fall that US police have killed more than 400 unarmed motorists and motorcyclists in the last five years, after ordering them to stop marching.

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