Commentary

For the Sake of Our Children: Policeman kills Courtney Williams; where is the justice?

I cried when I read about the death of Courtney Williams. My son is 15 too! My tears were the culmination of all the murders and all the senseless killings of our sons by the police in the name of "keeping the peace." I cried when I read about the death of Courtney Williams. My son is 15 too! My tears were the culmination of all the murders and all the senseless killings of our sons by the police in the name of "keeping the peace." When is the African American community going to say that we won’t tolerate this anymore?

I was lucky, my son came home alive after being beaten mercilessly by the Minneapolis police for daring to be on the Northside, acting like he was free; unaware that the Emancipation Proclamation that ended chattel slavery didn’t really mean that he was free.

What was Courtney’s crime? He thought that a 15-year-old Black male had the same rights and privileges as 15-year-old White males who can go to parties on weekends and act like teenagers. Little did Courtney know that going to a party in his Jordan community could lead to his death.

Little did his mother believe that allowing her son to spend the night at a friend’s house, after the party, would lead to Courtney being shot twice by a police officer who thought he saw a gun? Little did his mother know that the police or hospital authorities would not call her so that she could say good-bye to her son before he took his final breath.

And little did she know that innuendos, rumors and speculation would be made about her son because he was young, Black and lived in North Minneapolis.

The family knew their son. They knew he didn’t have a gun. Witnesses agreed. But the police said he had a .45 caliber look-alike. We all know the police wouldn’t lie.

It’s reminiscent of when the police lined my son and all the Black males around, up against the fence. And when he was directed to produce identification and goes for his wallet, my son is savagely beaten down because they claimed that they thought he was reaching for a weapon.

Of course the police said that my son matched the description of a drug dealer. Strange thing is, the police let the boy with the drugs go, and beat my son until they drew blood. When they learned that he didn’t have a police record, they told my son they were doing him a favor by letting him go. I guess they were right; my son came home, Courtney did not.

The African American community knows that without an education that America has a prison cell for each of our sons. Courtney was in school. His principal said that he was an average 15-year old who attended classes, had fun, and seemed to make friends easily.

A family friend said that Courtney liked, "rap, baggy pants and girls." His mother said that her son, "recorded a rap album, avoided gangs and was a good student, often helping the kid next door with homework." Courtney’s father dreamed of his son making it big in sports. "I thought that he’d be on the news one day, but not like this. Not like this."

Yet, the police must be right, the officer that killed Courtney has a "clean" disciplinary record and he has the courage to police the Northside. If he said the boy had a gun, the boy had a gun, right?

Jeff Jindra, the police officer that viciously beat my son, said he was protecting himself from this dangerous 14-year old.

When we asked for the city to compensate my son by sending him to college, the Minneapolis City Council said that he wasn’t beat bad enough. They felt that because he didn’t have any broken bones or brain damage, that getting a whuppin’ by one of Minneapolis’ finest was part of his Rites of Passage. The Council believed that a college education for my son was excessive.

What will the Council say about Courtney? Will they treat his case the same way they treated Tycel Nelson, a 17-year old Black boy on the Northside who was shot in the back while our city officials told our community that he was a gang member who had a shoot out with the police. We were reass

November 1, 2004
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