Editorial: Say their names
Already, we are allowing the names of law enforcement officers shot to death by former military personnel to fade into the woodwork. We are outraged, saddened, and perplexed by the violence around us.
So much so that it is much easier to pray for “The Five Dallas police officers” and now, tragically, “The Three Baton Rouge police officers.”
Saddened though we are, we should not allow their names to go unspoken:
Dallas - Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa.
Baton Rouge - Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, Brad Garafola.
We grieve their deaths. We honor their sacrifice. We will not add to their killers’ fame, by saying their killers’ names.
Instead, we grieve today for promising lives cut short. Some in violence. Some not. All tragic, because what can be the measure of a life, of the potential benefit to communities throughout our nation, taken away from us too soon.
Call their names. Nicole Kingsborough and Roger Rice Jr. Their killer was sent to prison on July 1, 2016. They were shot to death on July 13, 2011.
As a jury was considering the case against their killer, June 29-30 was the third anniversary of the death of Emily-Anna Asbill, 19, of Clinton. She died as a result of domestic violence, so did Kingsborough, so did Rice.
Sandra Bland, a woman headed to a job interview in Texas. She died in police custody, July 13 of last year. Someone, perhaps, you have never heard of. Dominique Cooper, 23, of Darlington, shot to death July 13 of last year. He was a star running back for Darlington High School, a 2011 graduate. Five people have been charged in connection with his homicide. People who observed the first anniversary of his death used it as a forum to discuss “black on black” crime.
The apparent reasons the Dallas Five and the Baton Rouge Three were shot to death by gunmen, both later killed by law enforcement, were the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling, 37, in Louisiana, and Philando Castille, 32, in Minnesota - both shot to death by police. Sterling was on his back with two officers holding him down, when he was shot to death. Castilla was driving a vehicle in which a woman and her daughter were riding, he was shot in the arm and bled out just after he told an officer there was a gun in his car. He had a permit to carry the gun.
Call his name, also. Shot to death by police, Dylan Noble, 19, in Fresno, California, who died June 23. A person called 911 to report someone walking around with a rifle. Police stopped Noble in his pickup, he exited the vehicle with one hand behind his back. He advanced toward two officers - one shot him twice in the stomach, then again as he lay on his back, one hand still behind him; the other officer shot him with a shotgun. The Fresno police chief wonders if the final two shots were “justified.”
Through no apparent violence, there are the deaths this month of former Clemson basketball player Demontez Stitt, 27, found dead in his North Carolina house; and Presbyterian College student-athlete Stevie Wilson, 21, who died in Mount Pleasant near Charleston. When an injury ended Wilson’s football career, he became a football trainer. People at PC prayed for him July 12.
As violence and untimely death escalated - more than 80 people were killed by a suicide terrorist in Nice, France - so did “the President is a racist” and “Syrian refugees are terrorists” rhetoric.
Into this caldron stepped U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of Charleston. He is not a racist, he has not been turned into a racist by the police officers who stopped his vehicle seven times in one year. Scott said July 11, he can empathize with the late Eric Garner who told police in New York City “I can’t breathe,” and with the later Walter Scott of North Charleston, who was shot in the back by an officer (according to bystander video), just two of the dozens of black men killed by the police in the last two years.
Say their names, because some are not killed by the police. Cleveland Abrams III, 25, of Barnwell, shot dead July 8. He had been the director of the Blackville Senior Center for just a few months. His death is in the Barnwell newspaper, right across the top of the front page.
Daziyah Davis, 9, and her grandmother, Denise Couplin, 52, found dead July 17 in Darlington. As of the next afternoon, authorities had arrested two people, a man and a woman in their 20s. So the cycle goes on. Families who will never be the same.
Human potential that will never be realized.
All our communities are the worse off because, through violence or just plain meanness, or hopelessness or untimely death, we must continue, paralyzed and helpless, to say these names.