News Brief

The Murder of Keith Lamont Scott and The Limits of 'Bias'

In a propaganda war between the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department and Lyric Scott the police think they can use freshman logic to avoid blame.

"The police just shot my daddy four times for being black," the young woman narrates as she trains her camera onto a group of police officers down the block.

We'd just gone live with a memorial post to Terence Crutcher last night when videos started appearing in our feeds of a new incident in North Carolina. The live feed is from the point of view of Lyric Scott, furiously pacing a line of police tape. Her father, Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, had just been shot by police.

In the video she goes on to tell us that her father was reading a book while waiting for his son to be dropped off after school. In a detail similar to Crutcher's death last week, the police, we're told by the Washington Post, were on their way to an entirely different call when their focus shifted onto Scott before killing him. What exactly caught the officers' eye is not yet clear. Video, we're told, will be released once an investigation is finished.

Watch Lyric Scott's video on Youtube

Today the police chief of the Charlotte suburb where Scott was murdered claims no book was found at the scene and that witnesses say he had a handgun when he exited the car. Furthermore, according to Chief Putney who is black, the man that shot Scott was black himself—proof that "bias" was not at play here.

In a propaganda war between a police department and a college-student—the daughter of a murdered man—the police seem to think they can use a kind of freshman logic to extricate themselves from blame.

And just like with Terence Crutcher, we need to step back and remind ourselves that, whether he was reading a book or not, there is nothing here to suggest that Scott was involved in committing any crime. And even if he was, that does not give agents of the state license to kill him.

Keith Lamon Scott, right, was killed by police on Tuesday. Photo via GoFundMe

The Limits of Bias

And then there's the idea of "bias." It's a word that gets tossed around a lot in America especially around policing. It's a word that brings the violence down to the level of a single act and the intentions behind it. Did the cop kill the man for racist reasons or not? In practice—because it's pretty hard to prove the hatred inside another person's heart—it both absolves the man who pulled the trigger and the police department itself from the blame of killing a man. The people who make law-enforcement and other policies don't even enter into the equation.

Policing in America has long been a system focused on the persecution of racialized communities, from the days of slavery, through Jim Crow and segregation, urban renewal and gentrification—it is an institution that works in the interests of the powerful and the white, in the interests of capital accumulation and upper middle class fears. This systemic critique has been at the center of the Black Lives Matter movement since the start and has finally begun to enter media discussions around these murders.

But as another spate of police killings begins we need to keep insisting on justice for the victims of police violence—from Charlotte to Tulsa, to Chicago and New York City.

Black lives matter.

Photo: Alvin Ukpeh.

The Year Is 2020 & the Future of Nigeria Is the Youth

We discuss the strength in resolve of Nigeria's youth, their use of social media to speak up, and the young digital platforms circumventing the legacy media propaganda machine. We also get first-hand accounts from young creatives on being extorted by SARS and why they believe the protests are so important.

In the midst of a pandemic-rife 2020, the voices of African youth have gotten louder in demand for a better present and future. From structural reforms, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and derelict states of public service, the youths have amplified their voices via the internet and social media, to cohesively express grievances that would hitherto have been quelled at a whisper.

Nigerian youth have used the internet and social media to create and sustain a loud voice for themselves. The expression of frustration and the calls for change may have started online, but it's having a profound effect on the lives of every Nigerian with each passing day. What started as the twitter hashtag #EndSARS has grown into a nationwide youth revolution led by the people.

Even after the government supposedly disbanded the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) unit on the 10th of October, young Nigerians have not relented in their demands for better policing. The lack of trust for government promises has kept the youth protesting on the streets and online.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Interview: 808x On Crafting Different Sounds For the Diverse Innanetwav Roster

808x, the in-house producer for South Africa's popular hip-hop collective/label Innanetwav, breaks down his working process with artists and the importance of energy.