I interrupt my Advent posts because, well, that’s how life works. It’s stories like the two I will tell that create in me a deep longing for the final Advent.
It has been said that justice is love done in public. We need love done in public. We need justice. Until then, I lean into Advent and like so many, I wait. Now for the two stories.
A white bar owner in Staton Island NY declares his bar an “autonomous zone” as a protest to COVID-19 restrictions. He holds a protest. Sheriff’s deputies stop by to arrest him for the violation. The white bar owner evades arrest and attempts to run over a sheriff’s deputy. It’s on tape. He bowls over the deputy forcing him onto the hood of his car while the deputy holds on. The white bar owner gets arrested and charged, including a second degree charge for assaulting an officer. He gets released without bail. The white bar owner gets a guest spot on Fox News and is declared a patriot, a small business hero.
Casey Goodson JR. stands on the porch of his house and is mistaken for a felon by one white sheriff’s deputy. Casey Goodson JR is shot dead. Casey Goodson JR is black.
The authorities have confessed he was wrongly identified. But there is no body cam footage available to shed more light for Casey Goodson JR’s case. The deputy didn’t wear a camera. It’s Casey Goodson JR’s family’s word against the word of one deputy. A federal investigation is being conducted.
Video footage shows the white bar owner hitting the deputy with his car. No shots were fired. The white bar owner is alive and well to tell his story on TV.
Most likely there’ll be no examination of past relationships conducted on the white bar owner. No one will look into the psyche of this man willing to evade arrest by running over a deputy, one whose Blue life he likely claimed to support.
It took days for the D.A. to change his mind and do more than release him without bail.
Not so for Casey Goodson JR. He’ll have his death challenged with the burden of proof placed upon his past and his family. Most likely, examinations will be conducted on his past relationships in the court of public opinion.
Everything I mention about the white bar owner’s situation is what we do know. There’s a lot about Casey Goodson JR’s death and it’s circumstances that we don’t know. But here is what we know about both.
The white bar owner has his life. Casey Goodson JR does not.
The white bar owner gets to celebrate the holidays with loved ones. Casey Goodson JR does not.
The white bar owner will go on to plead his case. Casey Goodson JR will not. He cannot.
But history will. And the contrast between the two stories does, for some of us at least.
On a personal a note:
I thought about posting this on social media for a while. I’m weary of these stories, of the “again.” I’m also weary of my many white brothers and sisters working so hard to prove a point while missing the point. I decided long ago to put my hands and feet to my response to these stories in my city and resist the urge to add to the vitriolic noise of Facebook. But this one needs to be seen, given the timeframe and season. As obvious as it is, I realize it won’t be for many who will fail to see the inequity and double standard.
I post this not to demonize the white bar owner. I post this not to demonize the officers. I post this not to demonize any person. I post this to (once again) highlight the demonic systemic evil and injustice at work in the racialized cultural systems of our nation. I post this because it reveals the legacy of death-dealing dehumanization that continues to be upheld against black and brown brothers and sisters.
We can create systems of accountability. We can create mechanisms and practices that promote restorative justice. Many have written about it. Many have pleaded. We need to listen and act.
Staten Island DA Issues New Statement on Defiant Bar Owner, Tells Mayor, Gov to Back Off