I write today to criticize Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman for blaming the Black Lives Matter movement for the murder of Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth, who was shot in the back on Friday evening at a gas station in a Houston suburb as he was fueling his patrol vehicle. The person who shot Goforth then approached and shot him multiple times as he lay on the ground. Sheriff Hickman has identified the shooter as 30-year-old Shannon Miles. According to Reuters,
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman has linked the shooting to anti-police rhetoric following protests against deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white officers around the country. Goforth was white and the suspect is black.
Hickman said the department assumed Goforth was a target because he wore a uniform.
“We’ve heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well cops’ lives matter too,” Hickman said. “At any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen(s), this rhetoric has gotten out of control.”
Mr. Miles has been charged with capital murder, which means he could be sentenced to death if a jury finds him guilty and decides to sentence him to death.
Sheriff Hickman should know that it’s never appropriate for a police official to speculate regarding a suspect’s motive in any criminal case, especially a capital case. If asked, it’s better to say you don’t know or you don’t want to speculate.
Sheriff Hickman and all other police officers in this country need to understand that the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) did not murder the deputy. As far as we know, Mr. Miles is not connected to BLM and there is no evidence that BLM knew who the deputy was or that it hired or encouraged Mr. Miles or anyone else to commit an act of violence, much less kill anyone.
Let’s set the record straight once and for all:
- BLM would not exist but for the epidemic of police killing unarmed black males.
- According to the Washington Post, which is keeping track of police shootings this year, police killed 385 people in the first five months of the year.
- 49 people were unarmed. 13 others had toy guns (total = 62). In all, 16% were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.
- Two-thirds of the unarmed victims were Black or Latino.
- Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.
- If the sheriff were Black, especially if he had a son between the ages of 15 and 30, he would have to be deaf, blind and dumb or just plain stupid not to be concerned about the epidemic of police killing unarmed Black males.
- BLM engages in peaceful non-violent protest that it has a right to do pursuant to the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly clauses of the First Amendment.
- Therefore, BLM is a legitimate movement with legitimate concerns that need to be addressed in a peaceful manner.
- If someone wants to play the blame game, the logical place to start is with the police who killed and continue to kill unarmed people.
- Killing unarmed people needs to stop.*
*We also need to be concerned about police killing the mentally ill because, according to the Washington Post, about one-third of the of the shooting victims were mentally ill. Some were armed and some were not. Many who were armed were not armed with guns and many who died appear to have committed suicide by cop.