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Member since: Sun Dec 8, 2013, 04:52 PM
Number of posts: 3,747

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That Awful Softness

Two nights ago, there was an event at the UW Ethnic Cultural Theater discussing the Black student revolt on college campuses throughout. It was co-sponsored by a local socialist organization and a pro-Palestinian student organization at the University of Washington. During the evening, a group of about 30 or so activists listened to a local high school teacher speak. His name is Jesse Hagopian, and he’s a union activist, the sponsor of his high school’s Black Student Union, and remains involved in the anti-high-stakes testing movement on a national level, among other things. The quiet topic that began the evening has been on my mind.

At 3:30 PM on Sunday, February 21st, 2016, Che Taylor is assassinated by the Seattle Police Department. Surrounded by officers, unarmed, and given instructions impossible to comply with, his death comes swiftly. Like the murders of so many other black men in the United States, it is simply brutal. It takes them 9 seconds to kill him, from the command to “Move in!” to the shots that steal his life.

9 seconds.

From Life, to Death.

I’ve watched the video. I can’t get past how quickly it happens. There is no sense of time...only the yells, the boot steps, and those shots that hang in the air. There is no end to that sound.

Che’s death hit me hard. I remember watching Ferguson unfold, fearful and elated watching the protesters respond. I remember it hurt when I heard of Tamir Rice—a child, killed like that? I remember Freddy Gray and the sick feeling in my stomach for Baltimore and the reality that was yet to come. But this happened less than five minutes away from where I live. I walked that street last week. I biked home on it Sunday evening. I know that intersection, those houses.

A man is dead now. I could have met him, seen him walking the streets. Maybe I might have looked him in the eye as I biked by his car—he was driving a Ford Taurus when he was murdered, and I pay special attention to those. I like that car.

This man was a part of my home. This Man—this MAN because **** the Seattle Times; it doesn’t matter if he’s a felon or not, acknowledge his humanity!—this man is dead. A piece of Seattle’s world fell away when those shots rang out. My stomach hurts.

I bet this would hurt worse if I knew him. If I was his family.

If I was black.

I keep hearing that awful softness in Jesse’s voice as he began that evening.
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