Danny Morrison

Danny Morrison of Bakersfield.

TBC/

It’s 2:37 a.m. Monday, June 19. Just hours ago, my children surprised me with a Father’s Day crab boil. Kids. Crab. Conversation. It was cool.

Currently, I’m lying in bed on my back staring at the ceiling. The house is quiet. There’s a drip coming from the shower head here in the master bedroom, but that’s not the only water running this evening.

My eyes are watery. I’m emotional. Today was set to be a Father’s Day for the ages, yet the tone was mired in conversations involving Philando Castile, law enforcement, the cradle-to-prison pipeline and Black Lives Matter.

I wanted to play Just Dance 2017 on the XBox One. I want to swim a few laps with my daughter in the pool. Instead, my home turned into a miniaturized version of “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” And it’s not fair.

I’m time-stamping my writing of this article so that you may get the full gist of my pain in real time. My columns usually follow a template I’ve constructed that contains flowery language, metaphors and the occasional humor that tends to effectively get my point across.

But not today. I’m too emotional to follow protocol.

I’m willing to bet that your Father’s Day was filled with laughter and family fun. A multi-generational walk through memory lane with kids playing all around you. Reminiscing about the good ol’ days while sifting through family photo albums.

Not mine. My 2017 version was mired in a tonal angst that forced me in a position where questions needed to be answered.

You don’t understand what it’s like to be African-American. My children wanted clarity. Philando Castile was dead. Law enforcement (once again) shot and killed a black man and no one paid the price for it.

And the Morrison children wanted Daddy to explain why this continues to happen.

The Castile case was supposed to be different. He followed the rules. He was licensed to carry a gun. He was fully compliant. Yet once again, those same “five magic words” rose to the surface and successfully absolved the officer in question of any wrongdoing:

“I feared for my life.”

I want anyone reading this to tell me what I’m supposed to tell my son. The go-to response from citizens who feel police officers are infallible is always, “Follow the officer’s orders and you’ll find that all of your problems will disappear.”

Castile did. And he’s dead.

I want you to help me explain to my son how law enforcement is supposedly here to “protect and serve,” yet he constantly sees the imagery of black men being shot and killed by fellow black civilians and rightfully convicted. Yet police officers do the same and never are.

Help me explain to my son how I’ve never seen a police department call a press conference after the shooting of a black citizen and officially proclaim, “We got this one wrong.” Ever. Yes, we live in a litigious society, but settlement checks will be written to the family of the deceased regardless.

Help me explain to my son how there are actually people in this country who feel young African-American and Latino males are genetically predisposed to be prone to violence.

And help me explain to my son how there is a distinct possibility that he could be murdered because a police officer can simply get it wrong. There’s a chance he could lose his life on a technicality solely because an officer “feared for his life.”

So while you were grilling the finest in meats at your backyard Father’s Day barbecue, I was being grilled by my children on the perils of growing up black in America. With tears included.

Damn your “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Your human physiological explanations and legal jurisprudence can kiss my narrow black behind.

Your silence tells me that you’re not really concerned with injustices in our law enforcement and judicial system. If the law is what’s keeping officers from being prosecuted for unnecessarily killing African-American males, then it’s time to change the freakin’ law. Equal protection under the law also applies to black people as well. Regardless of what you believe.

Now I dare you tell me that you still don’t understand the concept of Black Lives Matter. Happy Father’s Day.

Contributing columnist Danny Morrison is a radio host at the New 103.9 The Beat, a nonprofit executive director and motivational speaker. Email him at californianmorrison@yahoo.com. His work appears here every Tuesday; the views expressed are his own.

(5) comments

Emerald

I'm sorry for your pain and for the fear that seems so pervasive throughout the Black Community. I truly don't believe that police target people by race. However, I do think they are much more on their guard in neighborhoods with high crime rates - including our own predominantly white Oildale. I don't think you need to explain to your kids that there are people who believe black and Latino men are "genetically predisposed" to violence...you don't have to expose them to every bizarre racist idea and use that as an explanation for why a man was shot. That's a huge leap. It seems like fear plays such a huge role in perpetuating this problem. Both police and black people seem to be only a breath away from "fearing for their lives". I don't think there is an easy answer, but I definitely think there needs to be effort to build trust. I would love to hear black police officers address the black community about this. I think they have a very unique and vital perspective to share. We are all one community - the Bakersfield Community. I look forward to the day when everyone truly feels that way, and pray that trust will eventually displace fear.

Churchillis1

Just a few points:
1. Morrison claims that Castile was following police instructions and was still shot. He claims this as an uncontested fact. However, this was, and is, the MOST contested and MOST critical point to this case. The police officer claimed that Castile did NOT follow his orders to not reach for his gun. Now, you can choose to believe the police officer, who had little to zero motive to shoot a black man. Or, you can choose to believe the woman riding with Castile. But, you do NOT get to choose to portray this as an uncontested fact.
2. The police officer believed Castile fit the description of an armed robbery suspect and reported as much when he called in the traffic stop before the shooting occurred. This has a major impact on the jury as well since any reasonable person would treat someone they thought might be a suspect in armed robbery with much more caution and even resort to self defense quicker. Morrison ignores this fact as well.
3. While the officer made a mistake and the police department should probably pay some form of financial penalty to the family of the deceased in this instance, accusing the officer of murder, with all of the criminal intent involved in such an accusation, was found to be unwarranted by a jury. Again, Morrison can whine about BLM all he wants, but none of us have the responsibility to join him in his ignorance.

nickchapman14

Oh here we go again.... He was tried and found NOT guilty. There is no collusion by law enforcement to kill "unarmed" black people. In fact look at Michael Brown, he just committed a robbery, and assaulted an officer in his car. The gentleman who was "just holding a bible" which was actually a GUN, and was shot by a BLACK officer. I mean a great majority of these shootings are JUSTIFIED, not because they just want to kill black males, but because the black male REFUSES to follow the commands of law enforcement! So while you explain about living as a black male in America, make sure you explain to your children that even if you disagree with a cop, follow his commands and be respectful. And on a side note I can't believe the Californian allows you to spew your racist garbage on here!!!

Brian

I like how Lois Henry is mortified and rants about second amendment sports used Juneteenth as a marketing tool. Now his racist uses Father's Day to cry about how unjust our legal system is. The officer was tried in public court by his peers (yes even his own people) and found not guilty. When will this stuff stop. Good advice, follow commands. Lois, where is your outrage.

Nathan

And the National Review agrees with you. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/448740/philando-castile-verdict-was-miscarriage-justice

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