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Whirlwind About Drayton Shooting Also Will Blow Over
10/30/2013 2:15:34 PM

By Barney Blakeney

The Oct. 12 shooting death of Derryl Drayton by Charleston County Sheriff deputies’ has sparked a familiar chord in the Black community. Though young Black men often are shot to death in the Black community, the fur flies when police officers do the shooting.

Drayton’s killing has sparked protest marches in the James Island community where the the incident occurred and demands of justice from the local NAACP.

I think all of that is appropriate. But as I’ve said in this space before, it’s equally as important to mount such actions when other Black men are killed.

So far this year there have been about 25 homicides in Charleston County. Eighteen of those victims have been Black males and two have been Black females. Last year there were 39 homicides in the county. Thirty victims were Black males and one was a Black female.

A lot of Black people get killed in Charleston County. Personally, I think all those homicides are senseless. Derryl Drayton’s death may seem especially senseless because he had a history of mental illness and was shot by cops responding to a domestic dispute between he and his sister.

While Drayton’s death was a tragedy, I’m disturbed that his particular tragedy seems to merit more attention from Black folks than all those other deaths.

Of course, the bottomline in this is despite the outcry from the Black community over Drayton’s death, I have no doubt that outcry soon will become silent. Black folks will march, protest and call out for justice over the next few weeks, but the quake will subside.

We’ve all seen this before.

Back in October of 2000 the shooting death of Edward Snowden, a Black North Charleston resident who was killed by two North Charleston police officers while returning video tapes to a store, drew the outrage of the Black community. Snowden’s death was, in my mind, one of the most tragic ever to occur in my lifetime.

Brothers Jimi Jackson and Jesi Jackson along with Christopher Schmidt were charged with attacking Snowden who retreated into the video store after firing a shot from his pistol to warn the group off.

Police were called when the men pursued Snowden into the store, but when they arrived they shot and killed Snowden rather than apprehending his attackers.

The Black community responded to Snowden’s shooting death with demands the officers involved, as well as Snowden’s attackers be charged with murder.

Ninth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Ralph Hoisington exonerated the officers saying Snowden’s shooting was justified. He did however, bring lynching charges against Schmidt and the Jacksons.

Strikingly, the Nov. 7, 2003 shooting death of 41-year-old Asberry Wylder by North Charleston police bears an eerie similarity to the Drayton incident.

Like Drayton, Wylder also had a history of mental illness. He was confronted by police responding to a call about shoplifting.

Wylder was accused of taking a pack of sandwich meat from a neighborhood grocery store. Police confronted him, backed him into a proverbial corner and shot him to death in an attempt to take him into custody.

I must note that the three victims all had weapons when they were confronted by police. But this really isn’t about where or not those shooting incidents were justified. This is about the energy the Black community puts behind senseless homicides.

I got an email the other day from Charleston police asking for help in getting information about the Oct. 8 shooting death of 18-year-old Malcolm Jefferson who was killed on Forbes Avenue by unknown perpetrators.

There have been no protest marches, press conferences or public outcries over Jefferson’s death. I’ve heard Jefferson was a good kid from a good family. But there were no calls for justice after Jefferson’s death.

American society is fraught with disparities and injustices that lead to senseless homicides.

What must happen in the Black community to prevent homicides like those of Malcolm Jefferson and Derryl Drayton is not sporadic responses to high profile homicides, but sustained effort to change our economic and social justice system.

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