Last Thursday in Los Angeles Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson led a march and protest in South L.A in honor of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Celebrities and citizens came from all corners to walk with Martin’s parents and hear Sharpton and others speak at West Angeles Church of God in Christ. However, there was another name being spoken among the protesters; a name those following the Trayvon Martin case may not be very familiar with…Kendrec McDade. McDade- a 19 year old Black man from Pasadena, CA- was gunned down by (white) Pasadena police officers on the evening of March 24th, 2012. Police were responding to a 911 call that identified McDade and one other teenager as possible suspects in a robbery. Police arrived on the scene and fired on McDade from their vehicle, claiming the teen had reached into his wasteband as he approached. It was later determined that McDade was unarmed. It wasn’t until the Trayvon Martin case went public that Kendrec
McDade’s case began being mentioned as a similar crime. At the Thursday rally, Jackson expressed sadness at the loss of both young men and what it meant to the black community, and he encouraged the crowd to see it as the beginning of a movement. “We cannot stop evil men from crucifying the righteous, and they cannot stop us from resurrecting them,” he said.
But who, exactly, is Jackson hoping to resurrect? By now most people are painfully familiar with the details of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Fewer know all the details in McDade’s case; including, it seems Jesse Jackson and company. McDade was not simply an unarmed, well-meaning black man walking through a gated-community when he was randomly shot in cold blood by police. 26-year-old Oscar Carrillo-Gonzalez witnessed McDade and another teen breaking into his car and removing his backpack and laptop. He immediately called 911 and told the operator that the two young men were armed. He later admitted that he lied about seeing a weapon in hopes that it would hasten police response. At no point in the investigation or the resulting civil suit filed against the city of Pasadena by McDade’s parents has anyone disputed the fact that McDade was indeed robbing vehicles at the time of his shooting. His 17 year old companion (who’s name has been withheld due to his status as a minor) is currently in custody on charges of burglary, grand theft and failing to register as a gang member. While the police may still be on the hook for some type of failure or misconduct, this is in no way an open and shut case of profiling. Jackson and company have twisted the details of this case and the Martin case for their own personal notoriety, creating unnecessary strife across the country in the process.
Holding up the McDade case as a civil rights issue is irresponsible and dangerous. Jackson and Sharpton have to willfully ignore the fact that McDade was engaging in a crime at the time of his shooting in order to make this an example of racist brutality. Is this the best we can do as Black Americans? Making a martyr of a misguided young criminal? Are Jackson and Sharpton trying to tell us that personal actions are irrelevant when it comes to interactions betweens black people and police? Probably…and in my opinion, that’s what makes them even more dangerous to the Black community than so-called hate crimes.