Jemel Roberson – The Dehumanization of Blacks and Police Pulling the Trigger Too Fast

By: Flomo Yarkpawolo

At 26-year-old, Jemel Roberson was a great father, an organist at New Spiritual Light Baptist Church in Chicago and an outstanding citizen who followed the laws of the land.

Roberson, a security guard at Manny's Blue Room, a night club in Robbins was fatally shot by a Midlothian police officer early Sunday. According to the police report, around 4 a.m., police responded to a call about several shots fired inside and outside the club with is located at 2900 block of South Claire Boulevard. The police report also added that one of their officers who was called to assist Robbins police shot and killed Roberson immediately upon entering the bar and seeing him holding a gun. Circumstances surrounding the shooting of the bouncer or the initial gunfire were immediately unclear; however, at least four people were shot including Roberson.

In all fairness to police officers; at time, they do encounter nightmare moments when they need to immediately make the calls on whether to shoot or hold fire. In the case of Roberson, at least, according to eyewitnesses the officer didn’t encountered a life-threatening or nightmare moment.

Contrary to the Midlothian Police Department enhanced version of the killing, eyewitnesses are saying that the police officer didn’t give Roberson multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before eventually discharging his weapon. Eyewitnesses were shouting “don’t shoot, don’t shoot, he’s the security guard”. They also added that Roberson had a vest that was clearly marked with the word “SECURITY” in white letters.

Innumerable researches have been done about the stereotype of Black criminality over several decades. Most of these studies found that participants tended to shoot faster and more accurately at an armed Black man than at an armed White man, while being slower and less accurate in responding to the “don’t shoot” command when presented with an unarmed Black target compared to an unarmed White target. Until police departments across the country aggressively incorporate the issue of dehumanization of Blacks and police pulling the trigger too fast, the unfortunately case of Roberson will continue!

 

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