[CONTENT NOTICE: This post will have mention of certain things that may cause upsetting feelings in some people. Specifically, we’ll be talking about the recent shootings, as well as anniversaries from past tragedies that made the news. I will leave out specifics (when and where possible), as well as the names of the perpetrators. I will also leave out mention of the perpetrators’ gender identities, using they/them pronouns to refer to them. If any of this is something you need to take into consideration, then I encourage you to skip this post and check out my other posts instead. No hard feelings, we’ll kick it again together some other time! On the flip side, if you decide to move forward with today’s post, and it brings up difficult feelings for you, then the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is something to consider. For those of you living down under, there’s the Suicide Callback Service. For those of you living in the U.K., the NHS has a list of resources. For those of you living elsewhere, Find a Helpline (formerly known as IASP) has some similar resources available in your local area.]
As you may have seen in the news reports these past few weeks or so, there’s been numerous instances of shootings across the country, along with instances of police brutality. Today marks another anniversary of a horrible tragedy: that of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. I remember hearing about during school in small bits, and seeing the news reports after school. I was in 7th grade when those kids and that teacher were murdered, several others were injured, and the two perpetrators killed themselves in the library.
I remember how scared I felt of the possibility of this happening at my school. The year before, there was a shooting at a middle school, however I don’t remember hearing much about it at the time.
Over the years, I learned about what happened that year, the stories of the victims whose lives ended far too soon, the victims who survived, and also the stories of the perpetrators.
There have been many other school shootings since then, some of which were copycats of what happened at Columbine, and others with different motives. One of them even happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in 2012. The perpetrator was a former student, who attended the school when it still had a 5th grade.
This year, there was a recent shooting at a grocery store in Colorado, and at various spas in the Atlanta, GA area. The spa shootings in Atlanta had elements of racism, since most of the victims were people from marginalized communities, and the stereotypes commonly associated with these marginalized communities are incredibly damaging.
The shooter basically blamed these businesses as the cause of all their problems. They had been to these businesses before, and specifically sought them out when they learned that two of the businesses they targeted had run-ins with the law.
While this isn’t a shooting on a mass scale like what happened in Atlanta, Boulder, various other public venues, schools, and universities, it’s no less tragic: the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant on Monday. She was 16 years old, and an agent associated with law enforcement shot her during an incident involving a weapon.
The facts surrounding Ma’Khia’s (senseless) death are still forthcoming as of the date of this posting. I’ve seen mention on social media that Ma’Khia was trying to protect herself, and she called the police for help. The weapon she had was likely something to protect herself with in the meantime.
According to a CNN article I found, other measures should’ve been used to disarm her without resorting to what the law enforcement agent did.
I won’t link to it, since there’s a still photo from the bodycam footage of what happened.
There is bodycam footage of what happened when the law enforcement agent came onto the scene, however I will not be watching it or sharing it. The CNN article also mentions Ma’Khia’s personality and character, and my takeaway is that her behavior that day was out of character for her. Since she was trying to protect herself, she was in fight-or-flight mode.
When we’re in situations like that, it’s hard to say what we’d do. Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I can honestly say there’s a strong likelihood that I’d do something similar to what Ma’Khia did.
Whatever Ma’Khia was going through, she truly needed help, and instead this is what happened. The people she reached out to for help, instead did this to her. As a result, a child, someone’s baby, is no longer with us, and that’s a tragedy.
Monday was also the day we learned about the verdict in the trial involving one of George Floyd’s murderers: guilty on all counts. I refuse to call the perpetrators police officers, because they have no business being regarded as such, and they never should’ve been on any police force.
While the conviction of the ringleader among George’s murderers is a huge victory, there’s still a ton of work to be done. To me, these shootings further underscore the need for gun control, accountability among those who take the oath to protect and serve our communities, and a better system for vetting those seeking to serve on the force.
That being said, these are incredibly difficult times, and I won’t pretend to know how you feel. I empathize with you, I hear you, and I see you. Your pain matters to me, and you matter to me.
If you need to take a break from the news, I say go for it. Your mental health comes first, and if a moratorium on the news is something you need to do as part of self-care, then that’s what it takes.
Readers, how are you holding up these days? Let’s talk below, and support each other during these difficult times.