To die by gunshot is horrible. To have your life ended by a deputy U.S. Marshall’s shot on your 32nd birthday is even worse. But neither of these is as bad as your death leaving four children without a father, who is you. At a Citgo station in Charlotte this week, a young black man, Frankie Jennings, is shot and killed. Ms. Lucille Puckett, whose son died by gun violence five years ago, said at the vigil for Jennings that his family deserves justice. A leader with the Charlotte NAACP, Ms. Puckett also said, “We are sick and tired of our Black and brown people killed in the streets at the hands of those that took a vow to serve and protect us.”
Like Ms. Puckett and so many other citizens, I am sick of death in our streets, in our stores, in our schools, and more. As the investigation unfolds, I hope that justice will be served- for the Jennings family, the deputy who killed Jennings, and for the public. A just outcome is demanded and called for in the death of any human being.
Just as is Ms. Puckett, I am sick and tired. I am sick and tired of felons with outstanding warrants roaming our streets, our stores, our public spaces with impunity, all the while carrying their guns. I am sick and tired that another 32-year-old male, with two warrants for possession of a fire arm by a felon, freely walks into a gas station as if he has the same privileges of all law-abiding citizens. I am sick and tired of a young man with a warrant for discharging a firearm within Charlotte city limits walking freely in the midst of law-abiding citizens. Like Ms. Puckett, I too am sick and tired that someone with six traffic warrants likely drove a car to the Citgo station where he was shot and killed. I am sick of these and more warrants collected by a mere 32-year-old male. I am sick of his death. I am tired of his violence and the violence of so many more young men. I am sick and tired of the violence in such a young life that contributed to the death of Jennings, if it did not directly lead to his shooting by a deputy U.S. Marshall.
However, as I read accounts of young Jennings’ death by deputy, I don’t read any NAACP leaders, family members, or other quoted people asking what responsibility for his own untimely death Jennings bears. A gun was recovered at the scene and that begs the question was Jennings carrying the weapon when he was shot. Its presence asks if Jennings did brandish the gun causing the deputy to feel threatened and fire his weapon. It was Frankie Jennings who committed enough felonies to justify the U.S. Marshall Service to look for him and attempt to arrest him.
Sick and tired of cruel death that is often seemingly motivated by racism, such as in the case of a man dying on a street corner because a policeman, sworn to defend and protect, knelt on the man’s neck for over eight minutes. Sick and tired of no-knock warrants that allow our defenders and protectors to burst into someone’s home in the middle of the night. Sick and tired of these deaths and more.
Jennings’ sister said that her brother was “human like all of us” and that “We all bleed the same blood, red.” She also said that her brother’s life should not have been ended by law enforcement. I agree with all that she said, but I also think his life need not have been defined by law enforcement, a life short lived and violently lost.