Friday, March 26, 2010

Walking While Black and Autistic

The phrase "Driving While Black" is one that is familiar to every African-American in the U.S., and refers to the practice of African Americans (especially young black males) being singled out by the police for "special treatment" when they are driving. Otherwise known as racial profiling, through either upbringing or isolated experiences many police officers come to unfairly believe that the majority of blacks must be up to no good, and thus deserve to be singled out for closer scrutiny, and assumed to be hostile until proven otherwise.

Steven Eugene Washington, a 27 year old black man who reportedly had never had a run in with the law, was shot dead while walking to a friend's house the other night in Los Angeles. When he was reportedly approached for "acting suspiciously", he reportedly

"...did not comply with their investigative demands and appeared to be reaching into his waistband. Fearing he was reaching for a weapon each officer fired once. One bullet struck Washington in the head."

While the LAPD gives its officers a one hour course in dealing with autistic individuals, the department could not say whether the officers who shot Washington had taken the course.

My ten year old bi-racial son had a large birthfather. He will be a big man. This scenario is one of my greatest fears.

I ache for the Washington family tonight, and long for a world where more than one hour is spent training first responders.