At the time they were shot by police officers, both individuals were playfully holding fake weapons, and neither had harmed a single person. Both individuals were not only young, innocent and black — they were also dead by the time the public learned their names.
For some observers, the humane treatment that Roof, Holmes and McVeigh received from authorities versus the split-second executions of Rice and Crawford, highlights a disturbing contrast in how law enforcement treats suspects depending on their race. During moments of alleged crisis, critics maintain, police not only perceive white suspects versus black ones differently, but may also perceive the existence of a crisis differently.
That disturbing contrast resurfaced again this week after two incidents that ended up fatefully sandwiched together. The first was a shocking video — shot more than a year ago — showing Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times, suddenly and without warning, while the 17-year-old appeared to veer away from police. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting.