On April 7, 2001, 19-year-old Timothy Thomas was shot and killed by Cincinnati police officer Steve Roach. Thomas was the fifth African American to be killed by the Cincinnati Police Department in seven months. The unarmed victim was wanted on 14 misdemeanor offenses -- three for driving with an expired license, four for seat belt violations, five for driving without a driver's license and two for obstruction of official business. After being recognized by the police, he was pursued into an alley where he was shot once in the chest. Unfortunately, I was not surprised to hear about Thomas' death. Over the years, I have seen race relations grow increasingly tense between police and the minority community. Some of us have felt the personal wounds of this tension right here on this campus, and Thomas' case is dear to our hearts. Almost every day that I step outside of my dorm, I can be assured of one thing: that someone will remind me that I am black -- no matter how educated, articulate and well-dressed I am, all I'll ever be to them is black. That is why the people of Cincinnati have marched, rioted and demanded response from the government; because each and every day, they are reminded by direct discrimination or institutionalized racism that they are different. Thomas' unjustified death is a tangible reminder of unequal treatment of blacks in America. People are tired of being singled out because of the color of their skin. I feel we are on the cusp of a great revelation for those in power -- black people (or any group of people for that matter) are not going to take this anymore. In past issues, such as Thomas', police and the government have been called to be held responsible, but many people didn't want to believe that in the 21st century, a man could be singled out and even killed because of his race. Government dragged its feet on these issues with the hope that they would soon be forgotten. So what makes today different from the past? Strangely enough, the turning point for America may have came on the heels of the widely disputed presidential election. Half of America felt cheated by the system and some are still angered by our current government. It was blatantly obvious to Americans that the majority of our voices were not heard. At the highest levels of government, Americans saw injustice take place. People now are determined to make sure their voices do not go ignored again. And this yearning to be heard, we can assume, lies in the hearts of roughly half of all Americans. I'm not saying that every time a person speaks out about injustice in America, they are thinking about the presidential election. But I do think that seeing it happen on such a large scale made American injustice an indisputable fact for those who once doubted its existence. Add to that realization a senseless killing of an unarmed youth, or any other act of injustice, and you have a recipe for revolt. People are fed up. They are tired of not having their voices heard and they are tired of being victims of the ignorance of other people. This doesn't mean that black people are going to go out and avenge the death of every person who has been killed irrationally. Despite what some believe, blacks aren't prone to violence by nature and certainly don't want to inflict the pains of our past onto people today. The community in Cincinnati has worked diligently to express their dissatisfaction with the actions of the police force and local government's response to incidents like this. They have shown Cincinnati that they are serious about change and they intend to see that it happens -- soon. Their actions are a reflection of sentiments that line in the hearts of many American communities. The people in Cincinnati, and in America, are demanding justice once and for all. They will give government and the police department time to make changes and hold accountable the responsible parties in Thomas' death. But in the words of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Kweisi Mfume, "We will wait... but we will only wait so long."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.