Daniel Cameron Delivers No Justice
A few weeks ago, I wrote an editorial slamming the African-Americans who spoke at the Republican National Convention. I called it a “minstrel show,” which it was, but in naming a sampling of those who spoke at that circus, I failed to mention one of the standout performers. Daniel Cameron. Cameron is Kentucky’s first Black attorney general, and during his speech he said African-Americans must “choose the path” that best meets our desires for jobs, opportunities and a better life for our children. Then he asked this significant question: “Or will we go backward, to a time when people were treated like political commodities who can’t be trusted to think for themselves?”
What a stunning irony!
A Black American, who embraces the tenets of today’s Republican Party -- the same political organization that has worked assiduously under its new leader, Donald Trump, to roll back the hard-fought gains of the last half century –- stood on a stage before an overwhelmingly white, conservative audience, and implored Black Americans not to “go backward,” not to become political pawns, and to think for themselves. Cameron should practice what he preaches. Because this past week, he shoved Black Americans right back into the steaming cauldron of social injustice by exonerating three white police officers, who burst through the front door of a sleeping Black woman and murdered her in her own bed.
To me, this was an awful déjà vu. It took me back more than 50 years, when very much the same kind of brutal murder occurred in Chicago on Dec. 4, 1969.
On that chilly morning, more than a dozen police officers stormed into a West Side apartment that Black Panther leader Fred Hampton shared with several other members of the Black liberation group. In a matter of seconds, the policemen sprayed more than 90 bullets at the sleeping Hampton. When the smoking guns had ceased firing, Hampton lay dead on the floor. Mark Clark, another Black Panther, had also been shot to death, and four others were wounded.
How many bullets were fired back at the police officers? One. And it was later determined that bullet might have been fired by Hampton after he was shot through the heart and was falling to the floor. But at a subsequent press conference, Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan falsely claimed there had been a fierce gun battle. None of the 14 police officers who executed that raid were ever indicted. Flash forward to the Republican National Convention just a few weeks ago. During his speech, Cameron invoked the name of Breonna Taylor and promised that the ideals of the Republican Party would “heal our nation’s wounds.” He sang the praises of the GOP, adding that “Republicans will never turn a blind eye to unjust acts.” Is that what we saw this week? One-hundred and ninety days after Taylor’s murder on March 13, as the world watched and millions of Americans wondered, hoped and prayed that justice would prevail, Daniel Cameron gave us our answer.
No! A grand jury indicted one Louisville police officer for shooting recklessly into the apartment of one of Taylor’s neighbors. None of the three policemen were charged with killing an unarmed Black woman, whose only crime was sleeping in her own bed.
Cameron says Louisville detectives Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly were justified in pumping six bullets into Taylor; he claims they announced that they were police officers before smashing through her front door and responding with a hurricane of bullets to the one that was fired at them. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, who fired that one shot at what he thought were violent intruders, insists they did not.
Breonna Taylor’s brutal death will never cease to haunt anyone who believes in justice and fair play. And for Black Americans in particular, the prevailing hope and desire has been that few would embrace those values more than Black elected officials. When he spoke at the RNC, Daniel Cameron told African-Americans not to believe that “your skin color must dictate your values.”
What he proved is that our skin color determines whether we live or die, and that we cannot be certain that even Black officials, who we elect with the fervent desire that they will bring us justice, will deliver that justice to us.