I watched a man die this morning.
Over and over again, on repeat.
Over and over again, Walter Scott fled down the lush, green path. It looked like a fine place to go for a jog on a nice summer day. Over and over again, Scott was shot in the back by Charleston police officer Michael Slager. Eight times.
Over and over again, Scott fell to the ground.
They showed the video 8 times in 5 minutes on the morning news. Over and over.
I was surprised. I don’t like to watch men die.
Well, not real people, anyway. I’m not too squeamish about fictional death. I’m glad Game of Thrones finally stepped it’s game in Season 4. After reading the books, I was frankly a little disappointed by the initial lack of bloodshed.
But I don’t need to watch a real person die.
They showed the video twice as part of the opening credits. No warning that it might be disturbing or graphic.
Almost nonchalantly, they showed a man die.
I want to believe they repetitively aired the video hoping the shock of it would lead to positive change.
Maybe there are some people still clinging to the idea that we’re in a post-racial society. Who haven’t been convinced by the tragedies of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and too many brown bodies left bleeding in our streets.
Maybe the shock of this video – Walter Scott dying over and over and over again – maybe that will wake them up.
But I kept thinking – would the news act the same way if it was someone else being shot?
Would they show a white woman being shot in the back and over and over again? With no warning that it might be disturbing?
I’m not sure they would.
No, this video they were treating a little too much like entertainment. As if another black body isn’t much to get disturbed about.
As if we were watching a fictional man die.
Of course, the fact there there is video footage has been of remarkable importance to this case.
Slager initially reported that he had shot Scott in self-defense, fearing for his life because the man had taken his stun gun.
The video, taken by a bystander, seems to be the only reason the officer was eventually charged with murder.
People keep asking, what would the story have been if there hadn’t been video? What would the outcome have been if there hadn’t been video?
They ask, but of course, we all know.
In a battle between the word of a cop and the word of a dead man, the cop always wins.
Because dead men tell no tales and a dead witness is a silent witness and black men keep dying over and over and over.
As if we were watching fictional men die.