Contrasting Martin and McDade Tragedies
It's understandable that people are drawing comparisons between the tragic shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Kendrec McDade. But as we seek justice, emotional resolution and new directions in the wake of these two agonizing occurrences, we should not overlook the significant differences between them.
The Trayvon Martin incident was a clear case of racial profiling by a gun-toting civilian who had no authority or training to enforce the law and – most importantly -- who had no valid reason to believe that Martin was armed or dangerous. To use the shooter, George Zimmerman's, own words to the 911 operator, Martin was simply "walking around and looking about." Zimmerman apparently misinterpreted normal, non-threatening behavior by Trayvon Martin because Martin was black.
The Kendrec McDade tragedy involved police officers responding to an armed robbery call and having to make a split-second decision when the suspect – whom they had been told was carrying a gun – made a gesture (moving his hand towards his waistband) which could, under the circumstances, be reasonably interpreted as reaching for a handgun. That one of the officers fired his weapon while sitting in a stopped police car does not negate the idea that he fired in response to what appeared to be a legitimate threat. Comparisons to drive-by shootings and big game hunting make assumptions about the officer's motive which may not actually apply.
The one awful truth that links the Trayvon Martin and Kendrec McDade tragedies is that both resulted in the untimely deaths of two young, African American men. These terrible losses , along with losses of countless other black men who have been taken from us through violence (by authorities, street criminals, etc.) makes it essential that we continue to strive for justice, safety and peace for our young men who live under unique dangers in our American society.
Black Men Rally Around Kendrec's Dad
An outpouring of community support helped console the family of police shooting victim Kendrec McDade as the 19-year-old was laid to rest on Saturday. Since the March 24 tragedy, local residents have surrounded McDade's family with expressions of sympathy and gifts of cash to help with funeral expenses, legal fees and other necessities. A unique helping hand was extended by African American men who were rallied by a mentor of Kendrec's father, Kenneth McDade.
Andrew Oliver was impressed by Kenneth McDade's work ethic and commitment to family during the half-year that McDade worked on a restoration project that Oliver is directing for Heritage Housing Partners.
"Kenneth was like many men in Northwest Pasadena and Altadena who face the challenges of being unemployed, under-skilled and unable to meet many of the challenges of fatherhood," explained Oliver. "However, for the last six months he's been able to feel the pride of a family leader, a dedicated father and an inspiration among his peers."
After the tragic police shooting, Oliver launched an email campaign asking African American men to contribute toward the thousands of dollars needed for Kendrec's burial. The goal was two-fold: to help the family offset the enormous final expenses and to lend brotherly support to Kendrec's dad.
"I wanted this brother to know that he is not alone," Oliver explained. "I wanted Kenneth McDade and the entire community to see that black men will come together to love and support one of our own during an extremely difficult time."
Donations, large and small, poured in from throughout Pasadena and Altadena including sizable contributions from a group of men who live on Kenneth McDade's block, the NAACP, the Alta/Pasa Community Improvement Center, the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation, Kenneth's former employer, Heritage Housing Partners, and many others.
According to Oliver, the fundraising goal was quickly met and the effort had a positive impact on Kenneth McDade.
"I think he got a sense of strength from this demonstration of concern from other African-American men. It helped bolster his pride and sense of belonging. That is the kind of unity that black men must continue to cultivate all across the nation," said Oliver.
Thank you for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.