Mourners at vigil for black man killed by Dallas cop question ‘culture of policing’

Dozens of people gathered on a rain-soaked Friday to mourn the passing of Botham Shem Jean.

Speakers attending the vigil in front of the Dallas police headquarters pointed out that Jean, 26, was the latest black man to be shot dead by police.

“This speaks to the culture of policing in America,” said Dominique Alexander, a Dallas activist and president of Next Generation Action Network. “People are not trying to have conversations. People are busily backing the blue while black and brown communities here are suffering.”

Jean was killed by a Dallas police officer who mistook Jean’s apartment for her own at around 10 p.m. Thursday, Police Chief Renee Hall said. That officer, who has yet to be identified, is expected to be charged with manslaughter, the chief said.

The officer finished a full shift and was returning to her apartment at the South Side Flats at 1210 S. Lamar Street when the shooting occurred. Hall said it’s still unclear what happened between the officer and Jean.

“Your life has no meaning in the eyes of this system,” said Imam Omar Suleiman, also a Dallas activist. “The message is always the same, don’t exist black man. ... This is to demand that accountability be upheld. Just like in the case of Jordan Edwards who we have not properly grieved and for whom we did not properly do justice.”

Justice should be upheld to the fullest extent in the case of the murderer who is now walking free, Suleiman said. If it had not been an officer who pulled the trigger, that person would not be walking free tonight, Suleiman said.

Others said the incident brought emphasis to the idea that people in minority communities need to get out this year and vote, because the voter participation especially in off-year elections in North Texas has historically been too low.

“We can’t fail to try and change things,” said John Fullinwider, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, the group who organized the vigil. “The people who came before us who tried to change history made things better and now, we are them. We dishonor their faith if we fail to try.”

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3
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