There’s a lot of profanity here for which I do not apologize.
Sunday, we learned of the “accidental” killing of Eric Harris, a 40-something year old Black man who ran from the cops after being stopped for selling an illegal firearm to undercover officers. You can see the entire video here. Warning: it is graphic.
After giving chase for a short while, 73-year-old Robert Bates, a white reserve deputy on the Tulsa County Sheriffs Department, along with a few of his colleagues, get Brother Harris to the ground to arrest him for his infraction. [click his title to learn what a reserve deputy does and what Bates’ role was supposed to be on that day of the arrest. It wasn’t tackler and shooter.]
Reserve Deputy Bates yells, “Taser, Taser!” to warn his comrades that an electric volt was soon coming to the victim and they better back up lest they receive an unwanted shock of electricity. [click his name to learn more about Deputy Bates; it’s interesting.]
Instead of pulling his gun, Bates pulls his revolver and shoots one bullet into the body of Eric Harris.
Stunned, Brother Harris realizes he’s shot and yells, “I’m losing my breath,” as several officers still try to arrest him. One officer has his entire body weight on Harris’ head.
“FUCK YOUR BREATH,” one officer yells in response.
Fuck your breath.
I could critique the possible misuse of force or unpack why a 73-year-old reserve deputy can’t remember which holster his pistol is in and firing or why the monotone “I’m sorry” 73-year-old reserve deputy Robert Bates heard on camera only infuriates me more.
I could explicate Eric’s long criminal history and juxtapose that against longstanding arguments as to why criminals often are repeat offenders and the social constructs that perpetuate such offenses.
But, the “Fuck your breath” resonates with me theologically. It sits with me like lingering smells of gunpowder.
To scream “FUCK YOUR BREATH” is to say fuck the God that is within, around, underneath, and above Eric Harris.
To scream “FUCK YOUR BREATH” is to say fuck the God that took the time to breathe life in Eric Harris, the same vapor-like breath that is in you.
To scream “FUCK YOUR BREATH” is to say fuck the God that gave us a mind that can reason, the only being on earth that can, mind you, so that we do not have to respond to other humans like animals do in the wild.
To scream “FUCK YOUR BREATH” is to say fuck the God that touches you every morning, making sure your lungs don’t collapse, or tongue rolls back into your throat or any other bizarre, breath-reducing function so that you may get up one more day to do your job.
To scream “FUCK YOUR BREATH” is to raise an pseudo-indignant fist at a God who created even a man like Eric Harris so you can chastise the divine for breathing life into such a thing.
What is it to say to another human, “fuck the very breath that gives your body the ability to live?”
It is to say that your life doesn’t matter. The very breath you breathe is just a vapor, a disappearing, insignificant, trivial, negligible, meaningless thing that warrants no attention.
Your criminality warrants the disregard for your breath.
I sit with one of the thieves that flanked Christ on the Cross and His words to him: even you, a thief, will meet me in paradise. (Luke 23:43 paraphrase)
When the criminality of mankind meets the grace of God.
But God ain’t man, and man has many agendas that make the consideration for the divine(ness) of mankind to be of any consequence when there’s a job to do.
Real cops and play-play cops are killing folks now.
Are you awake yet?
On the chase,