by Josh, YES! Youth Staff
A month ago on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the official liberation of all black people in America, a young man named Antwon Rose, 17, was killed and became another fallen victim to police brutality and misconduct. His life was cut short with only a flick of the finger. At the time leading up to his death, Antwon was in a car with friends when a sworn officer of the law pulled them over. Antwon jumped out of the car and started running. Without any hesitation or questions about who this young man may be, if he had a family, children or any opportunities in life, the officer shot and killed young Antwon Rose in cold blood. Did the officer think for just a second that he has a young man’s life in his hands or whether this young man had a bright future ahead of him? Did the officer think that young Antwon was a threat? Or did he think young Antwon Rose was a “gang banging, drug dealing, hoodlum, without a father figure, living in an unstable home” like most people in America think about African Americans? Was there any reason why the officer could have thought these things about young Antwon? We’re at a point in America where these types of situations are less of a shock because they seem to happen more often as time passes. When will there be a stop and who will be the one to end the violence?
Some people might say “if he wasn’t guilty why did he run?” or “only a guilty man runs.” If you were in Antwon’s shoes, you probably would have ran too. Imagine being in young Antwon Rose’s shoes, you are an African American in a car with other African Americans and you were stopped by a police officer in a car with guns. You must be thinking that the odds of being shot and killed are strongly against you. You then see the police officer step out of his vehicle with his gun already drawn and you’re already thinking this officer isn’t planning to read you your rights, give you a ticket, or a “sorry wrong car”. In your mind you’re thinking this man is out to kill you. As a young African American male, people have been targeting you since you left your mother’s womb, even when your mother was still carrying you were always a target. All the stress and anxiety building up inside leads to you having to find a way out of this situation, so you decide to run.
As you are running you start hearing gunshots so you try to run faster, but you start running slower and slower until you fall down.
As you’re on the ground it starts to get harder for you to breathe and you start to cough up blood.
You start to hear your friends calling your name under the noise of your ears ringing.
Then you start to close your eyes until you see internal darkness.
Why does society treat black boys as less than human beings?
When will there be change?
Who will be the next Antwon Rose?
A young African American male who had his life stripped away from him by law enforcement, the people who’re supposed to protect us. If law enforcement is doing the killing now, who will do the protecting? If a black person makes a bad decision why do police officers feel as if they get to be the judge, jury and, executioner? As a big 15-year-old, African American male, law enforcement can see me as a threat because of my size, color, and stature. If I were in the same situation as Antwon Rose, they wouldn’t think twice about pulling the trigger. Do they feel as if they need to wipe our youth away?
Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) is focusing on getting youth more aware of situations like what occurred with Antwon Rose and empowering youth to make a change in their communities so they can prevent situations like these from happening in the future. YES! is supporting youth to make a change that hopefully others can too.