Racial injustice ignites Staples community

Police officers in Charlotte form a line to control the violent riots and protests

Police officers in Charlotte form a line to control the violent riots and protests

Zach Horowitz ’19, Staff Writer, and Daniel Harizman ’19, Staff Writer

Terrence Crutcher was killed by a Tulsa police officer after his car stalled in the middle of the road on Sept. 16. He was 40 years old and officers claim he did not comply with demands.

Just four days later, Keith Lamant Scott was killed after police were searching for a man with an outstanding warrant. Reports have been released claiming Scott, 43, obtained and refused to put down an alleged small firearm. However, family members claim he was holding a book and did not pose a threat.  

The Tulsa Chief of Police, Chuck Jordan, released a video of the scene immediately after the shooting had occurred. The Charlotte Chief of Police, Kerr Putney, made an executive decision to hold back from releasing the video footage to the public for the first two days after the event.

These two events have sparked violent protests in their specific areas, and on a nationwide scale.

“I think it’s interesting based on the fact that you’re seeing the opposite thing happening in Tulsa,” social studies teacher Cathy Schager said. “I mean I suppose that policy can vary from one place to another but since that it’s the opposite of what’s happening in Tulsa I think it looks less transparent; less willing to kind of open up information to the public.”

Strong opinions regarding racial injustice are present in the Staples High School community, as the issue has taken an emotional toll on students. Many students are extremely dissatisfied with the treatment of respective races and they hope that the idea of racial injustice will be recognized on a larger scale than it already is.

“Racially charged injustice is all around us and it’s something everyone needs to open their eyes to.” Xi Jones ’17, Black Lives Matter supporter said. “The problem isn’t something new. It’s something that is simply becoming more widely known due to social media.”

Some people may think that this issue is not prevalent in the Staples community since most students in Westport typically have good relationships with police officers. However, others feel that Westport is not a typical community in America and that people will have different experiences depending on the location and setting.

“We all know that the vast majority of police officers have good intentions and want to serve their purpose as protectors, and especially in Westport, where we’ve all had positive experiences with members of the police force beginning with elementary school. Kylie Adler ’19, vice president of the Social Activism club said. “However, when students go out into the world (especially students of color), we need to know our rights and exercise caution in our interactions with police officers.”

Many wonder what students around Staples can learn from what’s going on in out country.  Some students believe that the concept of racial injustice is misunderstood among the community.

“I think that Staples students, and really everyone around the country, misunderstand the Black Lives Matter movement as a movement ‘about’ police brutality. I think that understanding, greatly underestimates the scope of the issue” Theo Koskoff ’18 said. “The truth is that, although these incredibly upsetting deaths are certainly a huge part of the issue, what Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Alfred Olango unwillingly and tragically symbolize is much larger than police brutality: it is racism within criminal justice as a whole.”

No matter what people believe, the only way to understand what is going on in the country is to be educated about these issues.

“I think it’s about how it gets discussed among you,” Schager said. “Whether it’s discussed in the classroom or it’s discussed at home or it’s discussed among you [students] in casual places.”