Last year was tough on unarmed black men, even when there were video cameras around, so the viral video that’s burning up the internet this week practically qualifies as a fairy tale. Demetrius Taylor was in a car having a conversation with a friend when he noticed a white homeowner taking photos pr video of them. Both of them are black. Taylor decided to go and confront the man, and began shooting video of his own. As Taylor approached, the man retreated back onto his property and pulled out a gun. Here’s how that went:
Thankfully, no one was killed, or even shot, but police did respond to the incident after both men called 911:
Reached for comment today, Demetrius says that when he noticed he was being photographed in the car, he decided to “confront him about the situation.”
“That’s why I had my video rolling,” he continues. “I never knew he had a weapon. I wouldn’t approach anybody who had a gun.”
Demetrius says he called the cops after the footage ends. But officers told him that since the man was legally in possession of a gun on his own property, there was nothing to be done. (Demetrius acknowledges the man never actually pointed the gun at him.)
Demetrius, who lives in St. Paul but spent part of his childhood living in north Minneapolis (his mom still lives there), says he doesn’t think the man would’ve been taking pictures in the first place if he and his friend weren’t black.
The emphasis there was mine, because it’s significant that the man immediately stepped off of the sidewalk and onto his property when Taylor approached. Minnesota doesn’t have the kind of “Stand Your Ground” law that allowed George Zimmerman to get away with killing Trayvon Martin, but the standard for self-defense becomes much less strict when standing on your own property. If Taylor hadn’t been videotaping that incident, he could have been one compelling story away from being another justified killing. As it stands, he’s damn lucky to have survived, given the fact that he is black and has hands.
In other relatively good news this week, a cop was finally indicted for killing an unarmed black man. NYPD Officer Peter Liang was indicted Tuesday for the shooting of Akai Gurley in an unlit housing project stairwell. Of course, all that means is that he can then be acquitted by a regular, not-grand jury.
The events of 2014 created a lot of discussion about the use of police body cameras, but this incident seems to indicate a concurrent need for black body cams, too. I would recommend something that doesn’t have to be pointed with the hands, and I would further suggest one of those big motherfuckers they used to have at K-Mart, with the giant red flashing light, lest it ever be mistaken for a gun.
Last year’s videos of black men being shot, jacked up, or killed served only to get white people to finally believe in racial profiling, like it was Santa Claus or something. Maybe this year, cameras can save a few people.