On October 3rd, 2020 in Wolfe City, Texas a gentlemen by the name of Jonathan Price was fatally shot by law enforcement during an attempted arrest.
By all accounts it was another example of a Black man dying unnecessarily at the hands of a police officer, with the notable difference that it did not result in any violent protests in Wolfe City, Texas.
Why is that the case?
There are a few variables at play here, and I want to walk through them because I think they're important to understand.
There is no body cam footage, or any video, that has been released at the time I'm writing this piece.
According to witnesses the story goes that Jonathan Price was attempting to break up a fight between a man and a woman outside a Kwik Check gas station around 8:30PM.
An officer, Shawn Lucas, responded to the disturbance and attempted to place Jonathan under arrest. I can't find any articles or eye witness reports that explain why.
According to police reports Jonathan Price "resisted in a non-threatening posture and started to walk away." Witnesses described that Jonathan Price put his hands up and attempted to explain what was going on. Officer Shawn Lucas deployed his tazer in response, which the officer says was ineffective. A statement by the Price family's lawyer describing what happened next explains that Jonathan's body began to convulse due to the electrical charge from the tazer, movements that were perceived as a threat by Officer Shawn Lucas, at which point the officer drew his firearm and killed Jonathan Price.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectively reasonable,” the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
This is the best summary of events that I can piece together based on the information being made available to the public at this time.
In the days following the incident there were peaceful protests in Wolfe City, Texas led by Jonathan's family. You didn't hear about them, because they were peaceful.
Officer Shawn Lucas was dismissed from duty the next day "due to his terrible violation of city and police policy."
On October 6th, the Texas Rangers booked Lucas into Hunt County Jail and held him on $1 million bond, charging him with murder.
WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT FROM ALL THE OTHER EVENTS?
This is really what I wanted to discuss here.
What makes this different from all the other shootings, beatings, chokings, etc. that have spurred massive protests and violence over the last few years? Why aren't there riots happening?
The key factor that is differentiating this incident from all the others is the fact that within 72 hours the officer in question was arrested and charged with Murder.
There are two things that I feel when a Black person is killed unjustifiably by law enforcement.
The first is sadness. Sadness that is derived from a feeling of hopelessness; hopelessness that things will never change, that we're not making any progress, that people are dying and the country doesn't care enough about it to really do something. Sadness for the community; wives, children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends that now have a missing piece in their life.
The second is rage. Rage while watching the process grind to a crawl looking for an out, an excuse, an explanation as to why what happened was right. Rage while watching a dead person's past being meticulously studied so that examples of their worst day can be held up as reasons why we're better off without them. Rage I want to distill into action that shatters this criminal justice system and culture that's working exactly as designed.
The sadness still weighs heavily in the Jonathan Price incident, but you'll note a distinct lack of rage being expressed nationally. I believe that's due to the fact that Justice was served without a prolonged waiting period.
There is no need for protest if the result of an event lives up to your expectations for what you'd like to see when incidents like this occur. The simplest answer is usually the correct one, and that's the simplest answer here.
That's what makes this incident different from the others, immediate Justice.
WHY WAS JUSTICE SO SWIFT IN THIS INSTANCE?
Jonathan Price wasn't viewed by his community as a generic, scary Black man. The community KNEW Jonathan Price. Let me repeat that, the community KNEW Jonathan Price.
“We all love him and think so highly of him and just the nicest guy you could ever meet,” K. Sanders, resident of Wolfe City, TX.
He is described as a hometown hero. He was involved in local youth sports. The small town of Wolfe City, Texas only has a population of 1,471 people. They KNEW this man.
As a result they could identify with him. The community was not divided over Jonathan Price, they stood together because the community, black/white/everyone, saw him as one of them.
Jonathan Price resisted arrest. It was done in a non-threatening posture, but at the end of the day Officer Lucas told him he was under arrest and Jonathan Price did not comply. If Jonathan Price complied with commands he would be alive today.
Nobody in the community of Wolfe City, Texas gives a damn about the non-compliance. The police department fired Officer Lucas inside of 24 hours. The Texas Rangers arrested and charged him within 72 hours. Nobody hummed and hawed over Jonathan's non-compliance, they went and arrested the murderer.
Why? I thought this was binary right; getting arrested + resisting in any way = you get what you deserve.
The truth is, it's not binary if you see yourself in the victim. This is the key factor in what splits people on these incidents, whether or not you're able to identify with the victim.
Once you see the person who was killed as a human being not so different from yourself, once you stop seeing them as "other" and start to perceive them as one of "us," the noise fades into the background and empathy finds space.
On the flip side Officer Lucas had only been on the Wolfe City police force for 6 months. He was new in town. Shawn Lucas did not know Jonathan Price. To Officer Lucas there was simply a generic, scary Black man standing in front of him that night.
Justice came quickly because to everyone in that town the morally correct choice was obvious, because they KNEW Jonathan Price.
There are a few additional elements that came into play here that resulted in a subdued national reaction to this story.
1. There's no video, so the story's reach is limited.
Right now law enforcement has video of the incident from the cameras at the gas station, but has not released it. Some of this may change when that occurs, but I'd guess that the video doesn't paint Officer Shawn Lucas in a positive light or else he wouldn't be in prison right now.
This makes you wonder how many things aren't caught on video in larger cities that are swept under the rug. Imagine what decades, or even centuries of that sort of treatment and subsequent cries for help going unheard would do to a community and their relationship with law enforcement.
2. Quick resolution meant that outside agitators couldn't organize and get to the area fast enough to generate chaos.
This is a great example of what separates actual Black Lives Matter supporters from the garbage that attach themselves to the movement. Actual Black Lives Matter supporters simply want justice for their brothers and sisters, they don't want to burn cities.
There were protests up to the point of arrest, and then those largely stopped.
3. Jonathan Price was a Back-the-Blue supporter.
This is the topic that is getting the most play on Social Media which irks me because it's so inconsequential.
The lowest elements of those in the Black Lives Matter camp are using this as a blunt instrument, pointing out that no matter how much respect a Black man pours out for law enforcement, they will still kill us without hesitation.
I think this is just noise. Political views have never been the deciding factor as to whether or not a Black person is killed in a police encounter. The deciding factor as to whether or not a Black person is killed in a police encounter is fear.
On the flip side the All Lives Matter crowd is saying that this is an example of Black Lives Matter not caring about Jonathan Price because he "backed the blue." I can personally attest to the fact that in Black Lives Matter circles the Jonathan Price story is getting play, and the more reasonable elements (the vast majority in my estimation) of the movement are mourning Jonathan regardless of what his political views were, and celebrating that justice came quickly, full stop.
Black Lives Matter advocates don't want to see good Black men, men that were involved in their community in enriching ways, die. Jonathan Price, regardless of his political views, was a benefit to the Black community in how he conducted himself by all accounts. I mourn the loss of Jonathan Price.
The idea that nobody cares because he didn't agree with them politically is a false narrative. Maybe the garbage people, the grifters, think that way, but not the vast majority of Black Lives Matter supporters. I think the lack of national outrage on this is due to the factors listed above, primarily the quick turn-around on the arrest and charges and lack of video to this point.
I hope we learn more about this incident in the coming weeks and months. I hope that the more nefarious elements surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement don't take the narrative and run in the wrong direction once the video is released, as I believe this instance ended as it should have (to this point) with an arrest and murder charge.
I hope that justice is served in verdict and sentencing, and this can be held up as an example of the right way to do things moving forward.
Jonathan Price is worth talking about and understanding where we failed him as a society.
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