Culture of Indifference: A Perspective on the Terence Crutcher Shooting

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Today is Wednesday, September 21, 2016. By the time you are reading this, it will no longer be September 21 but let the record show that I am writing on this day.

It feels a little strange to be writing this today as today is supposed to be International Day of Peace. If you have even glanced at the news or social media lately you can probably agree that the world feels anything but peaceful.

By now, you’ve heard of the shooting of Terence Crutcher by the Tulsa PD and you’ve probably seen the videos. Crutcher was stopped on the road with his vehicle when the police arrived on the scene. An interaction took place and then Crutcher was dead – fatally shot by an officer.

No matter what you think about the video or Terence Crutcher, you cannot tell me that he deserved to die. So many people say, “He wasn’t complying!” Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. But regardless…when did non-compliance become a death sentence? And on top of that, since when is it ok for an officer to say, “He looks like a bad dude”? The officer in that helicopter didn’t know Terence Crutcher. You will never know everything – or even something – about someone just by looking at them. That officer saw a tall black man and assumed the worst. There is never a time or place for prejudice but especially not in law enforcement. Prejudice in law enforcement can, and often does, end in death. This is nothing to play with.

It could have been any of us

Whatever your opinion is about this situation, though, I beg of you, PLEASE do not try to drag up dirt on this man. Don’t be sucked into the, “But he did this…” “But he had this…” trap. No. Stop. In no way, shape, or form is that fair to him or his family. By dragging up dirt on Terence Crutcher, you are justifying his death. You say, “Well but he had PCP in his vehicle!” but what I hear is, “He did something illegal so he deserved to get shot.”

You know what else is illegal? Driving with headphones in. Driving while tired. Driving with a dog in your lap. Driving with no front bumper (source: FastCo Exist). Drinking underage. Marijuana. You’re telling me that underage kids drinking at a college party deserve to get shot if they run when the police show up? No, of course not. Do. not. drag up dirt on this man.

crowd of people walking talking about Terence Crutcher

I’ll be honest. I’m scared. I’ve been scared. And every time another man dies like this, I get even more scared. The more I read and hear, the more scared I become. I think of all the young college men that I mentored while working on a college campus. I think of my guy friends and my friends’ significant others. I think of my fiancé. Will I get a call one day saying that one of them is gone because they had a flat tire and didn’t put their hands up fast enough? It’s hitting closer and closer to home, friends, and it will keep getting closer until we do something.

Indifference is the opposite of hate

As the late Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Do not stand by and just let this happen. Do not let black America feel as though they are standing alone. This is not an issue of Republicans vs Democrats or whites vs blacks or anything like that. This is a matter of us as humankind against ourselves. Maybe you missed it but we’re killing each other. And it’s getting us nowhere. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. We have to be able to rise above ourselves in order to make a difference.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.’ – Elie Wiesel” quote=”‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.’ – Elie Wiesel”]

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Look outside your box. Peek over your fence. There is a whole big world out there and right now it’s all on fire. We have to rise above ourselves and spread enough love that we smother out the fire.

Please do not misconstrue this as a cry for revenge or vengeance. I got a news notification to my phone saying that violent protestors have shot a fellow civilian in North Carolina. They are in a state of emergency. We are better than this. We are better than death threats and violence. I understand that as a nation, we are hurt, confused, heartbroken, and most of all, angry. But that is no reason to turn on each other. Violence begets violence and nobody wins. Terence Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany spoke to media saying, “We operate and we flow in love,” and asked for peaceful protests. We have already ignored her request. Let’s not continue to disrespect her wishes. I hope we can all operate in love.

Tear down the walls

As a nation, we have built walls. We have built walls between whites and blacks. Between law enforcement and civilians. Between political parties and even generations. Everywhere we turn, there are walls. We built these walls. And it’s time to tear them down. Because if we don’t, nothing will change. I don’t have some grand plan or quick fix but I’m pretty sure it starts with love. Use love to tear down walls and smother out the fire. Allow yourself to feel frustrated and heartbroken and confused and then extend love and compassion to one another. Grab hold of those knots in your stomach and pull. That’s how the walls come down.

So how many more? How many more innocent lives are we going to lose before we start noticing? Before we start caring? Take notice. Don’t ignore this. Be hurt. Be heartbroken. Be upset and confused and angry. Be anything but indifferent. And tear down the walls.

Resources: FastCo Exist Good Reads


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  1. ‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.’ – Elie Wiesel WOW now that’a powerful quote and really gave me pause to think / relfect on your post. We are becoming so jaded and indifferent as a country-but as an individual -me, I. I try and combat this in my acts everyday. I treat people with courtsey and respect. I say hello, hold doors and set an example for my children to be kind. That’s the best i can do.

  2. You are so right – violence and retaliation is not the answer. Shooting cops is not the answer. Not all police officers are bad. Most of them are not. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do know that officers need to be better trained on how to react. It’s just all so sad.

    1. Exactly. I hate that we have fallen into a cycle of cop shoots civilian –> civilians retaliate at cops –> repeat. The cycle needs to end, and soon.

  3. There’s a lot of violence to in our place and it’s just sad that we allow this to rule over us. We really need to build bridges instead of wall and give peace a fighting chance.

  4. It is sad how much violence is in this world. It is getting worse as the years go on. The only thing I know to do is to show that I love and not hate and hope others will do the same.

    1. I don’t know if it’s getting worse or if we’re just finally taking notice. Either way, I wish we could fix it and I agree that showing love is one of the best ways to get started.

  5. Our society has changed so much and while maybe some is good change, other is far from how I was raised … but we have to work towards better change still and that’s just how it will forever be. This is a great write up and I hoep it speaks volumes to those who need to hear it!

  6. I hate the way the world has been feeling these days. Why can’t I walk out of my door feeling proud of my brown skin without someone being fearful of this same beautiful brown skin? I just don’t get it and every time the cops viciously kill another brown person because of their skin only makes things worse.

    1. It absolutely breaks my heart that you feel that way but I also understand why you do. It is a scary, scary world right now. Know that you’re not standing alone in this fight <3

  7. Bottom line he was unarmed. World is just upside down right now, no one should be dying because of their skin color!

  8. It is so sad what is going on in our society. Retaliation is not the answer and rioting. My son is a officer and I worry each and every day because he is there to protect everyone.

    1. And there are so many officers who operate in a space of love and protection. Meeting violence with violence is never a good solution. I can’t imagine that being an officer’s mom is an easy job!

  9. Indifference can hurt so badly. It’s sometimes worse than people being openly hateful, because at least you know where the openly mean people stand. With indifferent people, you just never know. 🙁

  10. What happened broke my heart and I am not even in America anymore but I have a child who is half American and what going on there is just terribly sad and frightening. I wish these brutality will stop. We are all the same, we are human beings 🙁

    1. It’s definitely heartbreaking and scary all at once. If we’d all just spread a little more love, I think we’d see an improvement <3

    1. I do too and somehow our country has created a cycle of violence answering violence. It’s got to stop somewhere.

  11. I personally feel like the police have way too much power. It’s amazing that there is always a debate on if a woman should be allowed to decide to have a baby or not but yet we let complete strangers who don’t know us have the power to take lives, pretty crazy. Although I know there is an argument as some people need to be stopped from commiting crimes and putting others in danger so we need someone in charge but there definitely needs to be a overhaul of the system.

    1. It feels wrong that we’re all so afraid of the people who are supposed to be protecting us. I think we can all agree that we’re all hoping for a peaceful solution on both ends!

  12. It really is a shame that the cops are not being trained the right way to not be so quick to shoot. Granted that they put their life on the line each day but they at least should be taught not to shoot to kill. It is not just one ethnic group out raged and peaceful rallies are what will make some noise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. It’s a weird juxtaposition to be simultaneously leery and also respectful of law enforcement. Agreed, banding together peacefully will be the change-maker here.

  13. This is all terrifying for me as well. The world is so much scarier than it used to be now that we’re more informed. I cannot believe what’s happening and yet here we are, facing this issue.

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