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Police not held accountable

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Last week, Beaufort County District Attorney Seth Edwards refused to bring charges against a Washington, N.C., police officer who killed Cedrick Pritchard by shooting him twice in the back while he was running away on Oct. 29, 2018.

Every time a family and their community grieve the loss of a loved one, there are other, perhaps less obvious but, nevertheless, profound consequences. Because the victims are almost always a person of color, as in the cases of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and Cedrick Pritchard, the message is clear: “A law enforcement officer’s life is more valuable than someone he/she is sworn to ‘protect and serve.’”

Some in our community may say: “He should have complied,” and law enforcement always uses that excuse and false claims of seeing “what appeared to be a weapon” to justify their reign of terror on black and brown people.

The role of “paddyrollers” (or slave catchers) was not only to return human property back the master but also to intimidate the remainder of those still enslaved to remain in servitude. How different is that from today when every black and brown family has to have “that conversation” with their young people just to lessen the possibility of their being killed?

The oppression of people of color by profiling, intimidation, violence and the system of institutionalized racism is not unique to America. However, Kristian William’s book entitled “Our Enemies in Blue” refers to “police occupation of our communities” as “the direct descendent of slavery and the Jim Crow era.”

People naturally, almost instinctively, run away from danger. Many police officers in communities of color are dangerous. While we figure out how to protect ourselves, these occupiers need to be held accountable. We need to elect a civilian complaint review board with subpoena power.

Dedan Waciuri

Greenville

The writer is with the Pitt County Coalition Against Racism. Police have reported Pritchard was armed with a handgun. His family, who viewed police video, said it showed him running from the officer.

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