Anthony Hill, Another Unarmed Black Man, Shot Dead By Police Near Atlanta
How many more?
Yesterday, a white, as-yet-unnamed police officer shot and killed 27-year-old Anthony Hill, a Black man who was seen naked and behaving erratically at his apartment complex near Atlanta. The Dekalb County officer was responding to a call saying a man was “acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked,” around 1 p.m., according to county police chief Cedric Alexander. Hill could “reasonably assumed” to have suffered from mental illness, possibly bipolar disorder. The officer encountered Hill in the apartment complex parking lot and shot him twice after Hill allegedly ran at him and refused to stop; in addition to his gun, the officer was also in possession of a Taser, leading many to wonder, yet again, why deadly force was used against an unarmed citizen. Hill is at least the third unarmed Black man to be killed in the United States since last Friday, and raises additional concern and outrage over how the police has been trained to deal with individuals who are mentally unwell.
One thing I’ve thought over and over and over again these last few months, as police brutality against people of color has been in the national spotlight, is that the only thing that I think saved my own father from being killed by the police was his whiteness. My dad was mentally ill, a drug addict and no fan of cops. In the years prior to his death from an overdose in November 2012, he had plenty of encounters with the police, many of them tense and confrontational. Sometimes my dad was to blame — he could be a real prick when he was high or feeling particularly manic — and he ended up in cuff on occasion. And sometimes it wasn’t his fault at all, like the time he and my brother were carjacked, called the police and the two responding officers did little to take them seriously, spending more time harassing my dad — he looked like a hippie dippie weirdo — than taking their statements and looking for the perpetrator.
But I know my dad, and I know how he could get, especially around the police — respect their authority? HA! — and I know that he wasn’t always in his right mind and behaved in such a way that if he was a Black man living in Atlanta or Cleveland or Ferguson or Los Angeles or any other city in this country of ours, he would have probably ended up dead at the hands of a police officer. But he was white and so he didn’t. I’m obviously relieved he wasn’t killed in such a manner (though his actual death wasn’t any better), but I never let myself forget how sadly privileged he was to still be treated by the police as a human being whose life ultimately should not be cut short because he mouthed off, or resisted arrest, or had a psychotic break, or walked around around a Walmart with a toy gun in his hand, or god forbid reached into his pocket for an imaginary weapon. That it is unconscionable and unacceptable and un-fucking-American that everyone is not treated with the same humanity because of the color of their skin.
My condolences go out to the Hill family for their loss.