Women, particularly Black women, are being killed. Why does our society refuse to #BelieveWomen?
We started the month of April 2017 with a report on the shooting death of Latina Herring, a Black woman in Sanford, Florida. Video from police cameras taken about 3 hours prior to the shooting show the officers reassuring Herring’s boyfriend while she pleads for them to make him give her the keys to her house. They let him go without searching him and tell her friend to stop calling 911 to check on Herring’s welfare. The video ends with her telling them that now he can get into her house before she can get there. Hours later, Allen D. Cashe took his AK-47 and opened fire on Herring and her family, killing her, her son, and wounding 4 others.
Originally, the recorded comments of the police to stop calling 911 on the video were interpreted to be directed at Herring. However, AP reports on further investigation:
“Police bodycam video shows an officer saying, “We’re going to handle it” and “Stop calling 911 to make accusations you don’t know about.” But police say the comment was directed at “a third party complainant who continued to make 911 calls about the incident while officers were on scene.” Extended bodycam video released by police appears to verify that the comment wasn’t directed at Herring.”
What is clear is that the police did not, in fact, handle it. They dismiss Cashe as a threat, although they were being told by more than one person that he posed a danger to Herring.
This week, there’s a report of schoolteacher Karen Smith, a Black woman in San Bernadino, California, and her shooting death at the hands of her husband, Cedric Anderson. Los Angeles Times reports:
“It was that appearance of a happy union that allowed Anderson to get onto the school grounds so easily. When he stopped by the office to check in, his presence went unquestioned. No one saw a weapon, no one suspected anything was amiss between the couple until the gunfire.”
They wedded in January, after knowing each other for years.
“In photos posted on social media, Smith and Anderson are seen on the beach, leaning toward each other and smiling, as Smith holds a small white dog in her lap. Another shows their legs crossed in front of a fireplace, with Smith’s flip-flop-clad foot touching Anderson’s leg.”
Anderson, a man known in the community as a pastor, has a new story unraveling – one common for Black men involved in any kind of criminal activity, victim or perpetrator.
“San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Anderson’s criminal history included allegations of domestic violence, weapons charges and possible drug charges.”
What is more telling, however, is the silence of the women. After one month of living together, Karen Smith moved out of the home and began divorce proceedings. She did not call 911, or tell her co-workers. Now, Smith, Anderson, and an 8-year-old student are dead, and another student wounded. Still, her mother remains silent, refusing to give details on what took place in the home that prompted Smith’s departure. Perhaps she fears no one will believe her, or maybe she knows it’s too late (again) to matter. We shouldn’t need our dead bodies as proof.