The Cost of Human Life

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By: McKenzie Kemper, Freelance Writer

On July 6, 2016 Philando Castile was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. 

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was killed with a knee to his neck by a police officer. 

On April 11, 2021 Daunte Wright was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. 

The three men have many things in common- they had children in their lives, they were active members of their community, they were going about a normal day on the last day of their lives, and they were men of color. 

After Philando Castile was murdered there were small protests and uprisings. 

The murder of George Floyd sparked uprisings in Minneapolis, and around the world. 

The murder of Daunte Wright sparked a night of uprisings in Brooklyn Center that will likely continue for days to come. 

The focus of the media won’t be on the excruciating pain Daunte’s mother, girlfriend, and other family members are experiencing in the unexpected loss of their son, partner, cousin. The focus of the media won’t be on the young son who lost his father before he could even form memories of him. 

The media will, however, focus on the businesses that were looted in the uprisings. The media will focus on the cost to business owners and to corporations that had their stores broken into. 

It will paint pictures of the character of Daunte Wright and the person he was; It will criminalize him and somehow find a way to hold a man who was shot and killed for simply having air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror accountable for the businesses that have been looted in the uprisings. 

What is the cost of a human life in comparison to the cost of looted property? When did a persons’ life become less valuable that a shirt that cost a couple of dollars to make? Why does the media feel the need to prioritize property damage when it is in response to the unnecessary loss of human life at the hands of police officers? Why do jeans, and other sundries matter more to us than a human being who has left behind a hole in the lives of the countless persons who love him? 

I understand that there are jobs that are affected when stores burn down during uprisings. I understand that there is a human cost to the uprisings, and I recognize that small businesses that are already suffering in the Pandemic may suffer more. 

However I also know that there is a mother in Brooklyn Center who saw the body of her son laying on the ground for hours, who will never feel his hugs, or touch his face, or experience the joy of him raising his own son. There is a girlfriend who is trying to understand how the person she loves is not going to come home anymore, that she now has to raise their child on her own. There is a community that is grieving and there are far too many mothers who are welcome Daunte Wrights’ Mom into their fold. 

At what point does the cost of human life at the hands of police officers become more important than the cost of looted t-shirts?

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