John Crawford Tragically Killed ‘Shopping While Black’ And Holding a Toy Gun

John-CrawfordWhen 22-year-old John Crawford III went to a local Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio Tuesday to pick up S’mores ingredients for his family’s cookout, he probably didn’t think he needed to prepare himself for a gun brawl. Most folks don’t think that way. Increasingly though, black shoppers find themselves in mortal risk pretty much everywhere.This time, a young life was cut short ‘shopping while black’ for carrying a toy gun in the toy section of the store. This is a tragedy we have become all too familiar with and that white folks continue to feel blameless for.

Police were reportedly alerted of a dangerous gunman when April and Ronald Ritchie – a concerned presumably white couple from Riverside – called 911 after seeing Crawford pointing the toy gun in the sky. Their account is the only one we have now and it paints Crawford as a dangerous gunman ready to kill.

“The couple said they followed Crawford at a safe distance. ‘Anytime I saw people walking his way, I would get their attention,’ April Ritchie said. She said the man was cradling a cellphone between his left ear and shoulder while he messed with the rifle.

‘He just kept messing with it and I heard a clicking,’ April Ritchie said.

Ronald Ritchie said Crawford ‘was just waving [the gun] at children and people…I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody.

‘He didn’t really want to be looked at and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people. Children walking by,’ Ronald Ritchie said.”

So, let’s get this clear: first, this white couple (one of whom is an ex-Marine and should be able to tell and AR-15 from a pellet gun) followed this young man around the store alerting people that he was a danger, getting the attention of others in the store and stoking their white fears. Next, they profiled him assuming he was only in the Walmart for one of two purposes – to rob it or kill people. And finally, they thought it odd that he didn’t want “to be looked at” prompting them to find him preparing to commit a crime.

According to LeeCee Johnson, the mother of Crawford’s children, he was shot before he even had a chance to respond to officers calling for him to get on the ground.

“We was just talking. He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him,” she said, adding: “And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”

Mr. Ritchie also lied to 911 responders claiming he saw Crawford loading the gun. He can be heard making shit up on the video below.

You’ll notice the broadcast referring to Crawford as the “suspect.” Frankly, he was a victim not a suspect. Perhaps “the deceased” might even be more fitting.

It was a last sentence from Mr. Ritchie that really pissed me off because it plays on some of the worst ideologies about black men and simultaneously blames the deceased for his own untimely death.

“He looked like he was going to go violently. If he would have dropped the weapon, he could have came out with his life, but unfortunately, he didn’t.”

First of all, how does one “look like they are going to go violently?” Does that person have to be black and male or nah? Second, Crawford wasn’t carrying a weapon. He was walking around the store with a toy tucked under his arm while cradling a cell phone between his shoulder and chin. When asked to drop the ‘weapon,’ he was probably a bit stunned since he wasn’t carrying one. Lastly, how the hell can we know that he ‘could have came out with his life’? How can we be sure of that? Black men are shot and killed for carrying Skittles and iced tea. Black men are killed for carrying cell phones and business cards. Black men are shot and killed for breathing.

enhanced-buzz-23537-1401889541-4Do these guys look like they are going to go violently? They have actual assault rifles in a department store. These guns have actual live ammo. They present a clear and present danger to children and shoppers in the store. Somehow though, they end up on web stories and news broadcasts alive while Crawford was barely given five minutes to walk around the toy section with a product sold in the store. Are we really going to try and deny that racial differences are at play here?

Don’t believe the hype here folks. This is yet another case of white fear trumping black humanity. There was no weapon. It was a toy gun. Media outlets are calling it an “air rifle” or using the serial name “MK-177 caliber (.177) BB/pellet gun.” The fact is though, it wasn’t a real gun. Crawford was carrying it around in a Walmart where it was on display for purchase. In essence, if he had intended to buy it, he was shot and killed by police officers for carrying merchandise to the register. There was no justification for this sort of force.

When the Ritchie couple let their fear of black men cloud their reasoning abilities (because how many armed gunmen hang out in the toy section next to toy guns chatting on a cell phone and playing video games?), they put this young man at risk. No doubt from Ritchie’s commentary he feels as though they were justified in their assumptions. He and his fearful wife will probably sleep well at night whilst Crawford’s family will never be whole again.

In my humble opinion, they should be arrested and charged. What they did was akin to shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater. They created unnecessary panic which resulted in the death of a young, innocent man. They used dangerous language, assumptions, and embellishments to coax authorities into drawing their weapons on a fellow shopper. I highly doubt though any white person involved in this tragedy will have dispersion cast on their character while Crawford will likely be put through the ringer post-mortem.

Whites continue to say they aren’t all bad, they aren’t all racist. They say that stories like this are heartbreaking and sickening.

Okay white people. Here’s your cue. Get to work and fix these messes your people keep creating.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

4 Responses

  1. Mary Burrell says:

    So tragic, May he rest in peace. It’s open season on black folks

  2. Megan says:

    After reading this (as a white girl) my first thought was how unfair it is to automatically be the bad guy, the racist, just for being born white. Then the irony hit me. I got to feel tiny hint of what black people must go through every day of their lives. But for black people the consequences can be deadly. I’m sorry I don’t know how to fix this mess “my people keep creating”, I wish I did.

  3. Kevin Cardinale says:

    1. stop shopping at white stores. end of story. 2. civil lawsuit against couple. it’s easy to prove, easy money, and who cares what they thought. No praying, no crying, no marches, civil lawsuit and sue the hell out of them and the dispatcher and the police, and the walmart. Black people need to stop crying and get to suing. That’ll shut all of this stupidity up in a hurry.

  4. Do not try to bargain when a store is hectic. Wait up until business is slow-moving and also sales people are seeking to make a sale. Ask for a discount rate for paying in money. Cash can chat fairly loudly. Search for product that has been in the shop for a while. I have actually acquired floor screens for up to 40 off. Seek items without price tags. If it isn’t marked, feel free to make an offer. Evaluate products meticulously for damage or problems. Make sure that items you acquisition have cosmetic defects only. As an example, a scrape on the side of a fridge could be concealed against the wall of your kitchen. Nobody would certainly ever understand. You will not constantly locate individuals happy to bargain with you. If they don’t seem open, don’t lose your time. You can constantly try once again elsewhere.