President Trump has called NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice, “sons of b**ches.” However, the systemic oppression against which athletes like Colin Kaepernick are standing up is very, very real. Black men are at least three times more likely to be killed by police than white men and the police officers who murder them in cold blood almost never get convicted.
Today proved a rare exception to that truth, with a South Carolina judge ruling that Michael Slager, the North Charleston former police officer, who fatally shot African-American Walter Scott in 2015, was guilty of second-degree murder, a verdict that could put Slager behind bars for 19 to 24 years.
Slager, who argued “self-defense,” shot Scott five times in the back as he fled after a routine traffic stop.
The former officer pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott’s civil rights. Due to a plea deal, his charges were dropped from murder to second-degree murder, of which he has now been convicted.
Any conviction at all in such a case, counts as a modest victory, in an otherwise sysiphean struggle to hold officers accountable for killing unarmed black people. The fact that Slager was convicted in Charleston, South Carolina — where, , the very same year as Scott’s murder, cops bought a white man who shot up a black church Burger King after arresting him — counts for even more.
If the judge in the Slager/Scott case deals the convicted felon the harshest possible sentence, it would send a message that could portend more justice to come in such cases. Keep standing up to say that Black Lives Matter as much as all other lives. We, the People, can push progress forward.