My coping mechanism is to try to not get too emotionally invested in the police killing of black people every time one pops up. Obviously, they’re impossible to ignore, but somehow I try to find a way to not get too attached to the latest iteration of injustice personified. 

I happened to be living on 18th and Spruce in Philly in the early 90s right after Byberry mental hospital closed spilling a lot of black mental patients onto the streets of Philly. Many of them flocked to center city. Most of them were harmless but homeless. They begged anyone for anything you could offer to help them survive. It got to be a bit much wanting to help but I was also overwhelmed at the enormity of the problem.

In order to cope, I found my dude. There was one man I consistently helped out with money, food and clothes. He said his name was Skinny. Helping Skinny helped relieve me of the guilt of walking past so many others who desperately needed help too. I knew I couldn’t save the world so I felt I did my part by being one of the ones to help Skinny. 

I took the same approach to coping with police killing of black people. Eric Garner was my Skinny. I continue to be so upset at the circumstance surrounding his 2014 killing that I’ve made him the benchmark to my outrange. I figured anything that happens to anyone else couldn’t get any worse – until 2016 when Philando Castile was shot right in front of his girlfriend and daughter. Okay, so I now have two cases to draw from when I look to control my emotions, grief, and feelings. I can’t take on a third right now. 

I hear them say the cops knocked on the door and identified themselves when they broke down Breonna’s door. A neighbor claims he heard it. Other neighbors said they didn’t. Her boyfriend said he didn’t. Breonna isn’t around to ask, but she was sleep anyway. 

I just imagine if I was Breonna and it was my house the cops barged into. If I’m in my bed, I probably have the TV on and the door closed. Because the street noise can sometimes be annoying with loud cars, motorcycles, and sirens flying by, I often have my sound bar turned up to IMAX loud. If anyone knocks on my front door and tries to identify themselves, I’m not going to hear them. 

And, don’t let me have fallen asleep. You can set off a stick of dynamite next to me in the bed and I’m not going to hear it in my first couple hours of sleep. I fall asleep hard. As the night wears on I become a much lighter sleeper, but when I first fall asleep, I’m out for the count. They could bust down my front door, bust down my bedroom door, and toss a grenade, and I might still stay sleep. 

But, if I hear you coming up the stairs and I know I’m home alone, I’m at least going to throw a shoe at you when you come through my door. If that’s enough to justify shooting me dead in my bed, I’d probably be dead too if my name was Breonna Taylor.

I imagine there are extreme instances where breaking down a door with no warning to gain entry to a home is justified. I also imagine that in most instances if you try to call or text the person you know to be inside to tell them you have the place surrounded and will count to 30 before busting in, that would be considered reasonable. 

Unlike TV sitcoms or Soap Operas, most people don’t answer the door in 3 seconds after someone rings the bell. The next time your doorbell rings unexpectedly, start counting how long it takes you to open the door. Chances are, you ain’t going to answer the door at all if you aren’t expecting anyone, so as long as no knock warrants are executed, mistakes will be made and people are going to get hurt. Occasionally, a bad guy will get caught, but they probably could have been caught by just waiting for them to come out the house normally. 

I don’t claim to understand police training or tactics nor do I understand criminal justice decisions a lot of the time. All I know is, most people would prefer to know you’re coming over if you want to come in, even if you’re already there.

Say Her Name!