Despite pleas from the family, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will not release surveillance footage surrounding the shooting death of John Crawford III. Crawford’s father, John Crawford II, says the footage make it clear in no uncertain terms about what happened in that Beavercreek Wal-Mart. Speaking with The Guardian, Crawford II claims, “It was an execution, no doubt about it. It was flat-out murder. And when you see the footage, it will illustrate that.”
DeWine has argued that releasing the footage would be “playing with dynamite” and prevent any trial from being fair. And yet, the narrative about what preceded Crawford III’s death remains: He, with his Black and menacing self, walked around the store brandishing a gun, forcing them to believe that they were under direct and imminent threat. That gun turned out to be a BB gun for sale in the store and the person who called 911 has since recanted his story. Also speaking with The Guardian, Ronald Ritchie now says, “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody.” Ritchie, maintains Crawford was still taking the toy gun and “waving it around,” but he nonetheless soiled the minds of a potential jury pool, too – his own ability to bend the truth be damned (his claims of being an “ex-marine” have been proven false.)
Nonetheless, a Beavercreek police spokesman maintains their version of events, claiming in a statement: “Preliminary indications are that the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.”
I bet, but a tape will likely confirm what most of us already know: this death should not have happened.
Personally, I don’t have to see video footage of a horrific incident when the surrounding details are crystal clear. I feel confident in concluded that based on the facts, an unarmed Black man lost his life for no good reason. The same goes for knowing that now former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice assaulted his then fiancée, Janay Palmer and that justice was not served by the NJ prosecutor, nor by a permissive NFL commissioner. But while I don’t need to see the gory details of something in order to comprehend its ugliness, but I do recognize that this is the case for others.
For varying reasons – lack of empathy or the effects of being bombarded with desensitizing imagery for far too long – many often have to see horror to interpret it as such.
Yes, in a perfect world, it should not have required TMZ leaking footage of Ray Rice knocking out his partner, stepping over her as if she did not matter in the least to him, and spitting on her motionless body to get the public riled up to the extent to which even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may soon find himself unemployed, but it did. The same can be said of the site publishing photos of Rihanna after her brutal beating from then-boyfriend Chris Brown. Had we not viewed those images, Chris Brown might’ve been able to sing about disloyal “hoes” mere months after the incident as opposed to five years.
That does not in any way make TMZ a crusader. They are not releasing this sort of footage out of the goodness of their hearts. It is about profit and securing it through wetting the public’s insatiable appetite for all things celebrity. Still, no matter their intentions, their actions have yielded real consequences for abusers and those who enable them for those who may have otherwise simply skated by.
There is an obvious cost to that, though. Rihanna did not want the world to see those pictures. The same can seemingly be said about Janay Palmer Rice. Victims often do not want to be viewed as such. Not to mention, there is gross embarrassment in having your victimization ready available for consumption to anyone with an Internet connection.
We must face another inconvenient truth: video footage doesn’t guarantee justice. See: Rodney King, R. Kelly. But though King’s assailants and the ‘Pied Piper’ of alleged pedophilia walked, they were largely convicted in the court of public opinion, for what it’s worth.
It’s a dicey thing – this invasion of privacy – but ultimately, is it worth it? I’m not necessarily certain, but one thing is for sure: For better or worse, it does pose damning ramifications with the general public. Such is why I can see why John Crawford III’s family want the world to see exactly what was down to the man they loved.There is the hope that it will rile people up to the point of demanding repercussions for the shooter or at the very least, thwart their attempts at willful ignorance. None of that speaks to our best qualities, but when in pursuit of justice, ideas about the way the world should often have to take a backseat to the world we actually live in.
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