Justice for Renisha McBride

8 Nov

From the US comes another sickening case of racist violence and murder. This time it is a young black woman, Renisha McBride, a teenager who was murdered while seeking help after a late-night car crash in a white suburb of Detroit.

From this article by journalist Rania Khalek, who broke the story:

Dearborn Heights police initially told McBride’s family that her body was found dumped near Warren Avenue and Outer Drive, but that story quickly changed. Not only are police refusing to release the identity of the man who shot McBride, they’re now saying she was mistaken for an intruder and shot in self-defense on the homeowner’s front porch. Even if that’s the case, and there’s reason to believe it’s not, the shooter still failed to call 911 after shooting an unarmed woman in the head, instead leaving her there to die. Does that sound like the behavior of a law-abiding gunowner who made a tragic mistake?

Writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton and Detroit hip-hop artist Invincible organised a rally for justice for the slain teenager, whose conduct on the night of the shooting is being questioned in accusations by the police and the media. This Huffington Post article describes the rally, and Hampton’s critique of the blame-the-victim response:

“This is what happens, again and again,” Hampton said, invoking the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin last year. “It’s kind of textbook. We’re able to break it down in the public media, when it came to Trayvon, the criminalization of the victim, of the corpse. Look, he got a C, look, he was a teenager who smoked pot, he had a sugar problem, he liked Skittles. … It becomes the criminalization of the corpse. … The police are supposed to be advocating for victims.”

Black feminists on Twitter have called out mainstream white feminists for not engaging with the Renisha case. Intersectionality, or the interaction of multiple dimensions of oppression, is as important to remember in this case as ever. If Renisha had been a white woman, we suspect there would have been little chance of her being murdered when seeking help on a stranger’s porch.

As of today, Ranisha’s murderer, who first claimed he thought she was an intruder, later changing his story to “the gun discharged accidentally“, has not been arrested, and his identity is being protected. Due to a stand-your-ground law in Michigan, it is possible he will not be charged. The absurdity of her murder, and the official response to it – for her actions to be questioned, not those of the man who killed her – illustrates the continued calamity that is racialized violence in the United States, supported by a legal structure that systematically denies justice for victims whose bodies are black and brown.

2 Responses to “Justice for Renisha McBride”

  1. Sin City Siren November 11, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Reblogged this on The Sin City Siren and commented:
    A good overview of what happened and why we should all be outraged.

  2. paulkegan November 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    A Message from Britain on the Death of Renisha McBride

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I am a middle-aged White British man who lives in Harlow, a town approximately 22 miles Northeast of the centre of London. I am a writer (so far without any commercial success).

    I read about the tragic case of Renisha McBride last Friday in a British newspaper called The Guardian, and wrote the following verses in response. Anyone who feels that my composition may be useful is free to use it in any form they see fit. I ask only that my authorship is acknowledged.

    The following verses are also attached to this email in the form of a Word document, to facilitate their use.

    I hope that justice can be served in this case, those responsible punished, and the law changed.

    Regards and Best Wishes

    Paul T Kegan

    The Dear Folk of Dearborn Heights

    There’s a suburb of Detroit City
    Goes by the name of Dearborn Heights
    Where householders stand their ground
    Where they know their Goddamn rights

    Their idea of assistance
    Is a bullet in your head
    If you’re young and Black and female
    They’ll probably shoot you dead

    The highway of compassion
    It bypasses Dearborn Heights
    On blistering August days
    And cold November nights

    Renisha McBride crashed her car
    At the tender age of nineteen
    Early one Saturday morning
    On streets unfriendly and mean

    She knocked on his door and asked him for help
    He picked up his gun and he fired
    As from his house she turned away
    And on his front porch she expired

    “The local police aren’t racist!”
    I imagine the outraged cries
    How then do we explain
    Their filthy racist lies?

    Renisha she was dumped
    That was what they said
    On the porch of an innocent man
    She was already dead

    The Prosecutor vetoed arrest
    In Wayne County it wasn’t a crime
    To shoot in the back of her head
    A woman, unarmed, in her prime

    Because killing Blacks is legal
    It’s written in Michigan law
    They’re free to gun you down
    If you knock upon their door

    Black folk can expect no sympathy
    In good ol’ Dearborn Heights
    Where householders stand their ground
    Where they know their Goddamn rights

    Paul T Kegan 10 November 2013

    In memory of Renisha McBride.

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