The Black Politico

Orlando politics and more -- from a black perspective

How Open Carry laws are ending Black lives

Be grateful we don’t have open carry laws here in Florida…yet.

The open carry bill that was presented before the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate failed to pass last legislative session. The bill would have allowed more than 1.5 million people with concealed weapons licenses in Florida to carry those weapons openly in public areas or private businesses that would allow it.
To take it one step farther, Republicans presented a bill that would allow people with concealed weapons licenses to carry those weapons on state and college university campuses. How would you like to send your kid to a college that allows that type of foolishness?

Last week, we lost two black men to police shootings. Alton Sterling was one. Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the street by an officer. The video of his murder was posted on social media by an eyewitness named Chris LeDay, who is an Atlanta native. Later, the man who posted the video was arrested. First, LeDay told The Source magazine, police arrested him because of battery, something he claims he knew nothing about. Yet, the final charge was for outstanding tickets. Another black man was killed in Minnesota.

The Minnesota man murdered was Philandro Castile, an elementary school lunchroom worker, who was shot and killed as he reached for his wallet to show the officer his identification. Diamond Reynolds, the eyewitness, said Castile, who was also her boyfriend, told the officer that he was licensed to carry and he had a gun on him. As he reached for his wallet, the officer saw the gun and fired off shots that killed Castile almost instantly.

As Castile lay slumped in the driver’s seat of his car, gasping for air, his white shirt soaked in blood which was running down the right side of his body and his arm torn nearly off, Reynolds recorded the tail end of the incident and live streamed it via Facebook’s live feature. We all watched Philandro Castile die with a 4-year old baby girl in the backseat of his car. The world is still shaken by how he died but why he died is debatable. Rallies and marches were held across the nation. During one of those rallies in Dallas, Texas, 11 officers were ambushed by a sniper and 5 were killed. The other six, wounded. The sniper sat tucked away in a building and shot the officers from afar while some protestors walked down the street with their guns slung across their bodies, showing the world they also had the right to openly carry weapons. But, when the shots were fired, those with guns instantly became suspects and if you put yourself in the shoes of the officers, they rightfully so became suspects. But, they weren’t guilty.

The sniper, who was not marching, was the lone gunman who took the lives of these officers and wounded several others. That gunman made every single man and woman carrying a gun a suspect. The same thing happens to many black people on a daily basis. We are suspicious because of a bias or prejudice that remains in the hearts and minds of some. There is no need for an open carry law to exist in any part of this country. But, let’s pretend there is, since evidently a majority of people seem to think so in parts of America.

If a black man legally is equipped with a gun and an officer sees that weapon, by law, he can feel threatened and shoot to kill. This is why, I am predicting, the officer who shot Castile will walk. He can say he feared for his life and maybe he really did. If so, who’s fault is that? I’ll tell you exactly whose fault it is. That blood lies on the hands of those who passed that bill into law without first considering or acknowledging we have a serious problem on our hands already. That problem is believed to be, the theory that some officers are afraid of black men and some black men are afraid of police officers. There is little to no trust between the two. We don’t have to overthink this as because it’s as simple as pie. Admitting it, is what seems to be the hardest part. Fear is what is killing black people at traffic stops and other places by SOME officers.

Simply, because of that terrible reality, black men who are licensed to carry weapons, can and will be, shot dead by someone feeling threatened. Until officers are not afraid of protecting and serving minority communities, they shouldn’t be patrolling those communities. At the moment which an officer is feeling threatened, he or she can take your life if you are carrying a weapon. There’s no way to differentiate whether or not that officer really felt threatened or whether or not the person with the gun was reaching for it.

For black people, open carry laws exacerbate the gun laws we currently are under. Black men and loud black women, we are already feared. If we carry a gun, we are instantly a triple threat. This is not to discourage you from being armed. It’s to let you know the real, raw, unadulterated truth. That truth is what took the life of Philandro Castile, a man good and patient enough to work around children. The laws are made to protect and should be interpreted by attorneys who can present it accurately to a jury.

I focused on black men mostly in this piece although I am well aware that black women also are victims from excessive force. I haven’t forgotten the Sandra Bland’s of the world and never will. The take away should be, our men are so very feared because they have so much to offer. They are the ones that are being forced by some, and please note some, people of all races, to be subject to oppression because they are talented, bright, smart, handsome and forceful. They are the backbone of our churches and the band that holds our families together.

Maybe we can’t understand each other in this country and maybe racism is too far gone to fix. But, I hope we can learn to at the very least, value the lives of one another so that we can live another day.

The Orlando Shootings and the Pastor Protection Act

A hot button in the Florida Legislature has been the Pastor Protection Act but some say it’s a hypocritical move by countless pastors.

The Pastor Protection Act, which was signed into law this past legislative session, protects clergy from lawsuits if they refuse to perform wedding that violates religious beliefs, such as for same-sex couples. (House Bill 43 and Senate Bill 110).

Months ago, specific Pastors in the Central Florida community sounded off about wanting full protection against having to marry a same sex couple.

On social media, one pastor and members of his congregation even attacked elected officials for voting against the Pastor Protection Act.

But even prior to this bill, Pastors were and are already protected under the law to be able to marry couples they feel are prepared for marriage regardless of sexual orientation so some say there’s no reason why the hotly disputed Pastor Protection Act, sponsored by Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), should be a contested issue, even though it was signed into law at the end of session.

But, what significantly links the fight for the Pastors to not be able to marry same-sex couples has become more ironic over the past 24-hours.

One pastor who was vocal about not marrying same-sex couples was scheduled to hold a vigil for the victims of Sunday’s massacre. Another pastor, who opposed marrying members of the LGBT community, rushed toward the cameras to stand in solidarity with elected and appointed officials as they spoke during a nationally televised press conference.

Pastors speaking out against marrying same-sex couples and then advertising and holding a vigil for national attention is the more unlikely couple. Some say those pastors have yet to do one thing in the LGBT community except protest the legal union and legal benefits for citizens while judging their lifestyle and most of all, judging who they love with all hopes of using legislative power to deny them the rights for which they are fighting.

Sound off on whether or not these pastors are saying one thing but truly believing another? Or, are they using this tragedy to gain national attention during one of the most trying times in American history?

Governor Rick Scott attended a prayer vigil at Iglesias El Calvario in West Orlando. His words were unifying. Scott said, “As Christians, we know God is with us and it is our faith in God that will persevere.”

An armed 29-year old identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen walked into the nightclub and shot patrons of this club, which catered to the LGBT community, because he hated to see ‘two men kissing.’ Currently, we know 50 people were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando and 53 still remain injured as a result of this hate crime.

Pulse Nightclub shooting update

The worst mass shooting in the history of the United States just happened in Orlando.

Early Sunday morning and all at once and over the span of minutes, 50 people were gunned down and another 53 people were injured, at Pulse nightclub, a nightclub that is popular in the Central Florida LGBT community, on Orange Avenue in Downtown Orlando.

The gunman, identified as 29-year old, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, was killed by police on the scene.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer issued a statement today. “We are dealing with something we never imagined. Because of the scale, I have called Governor Scott to request a state of emergency and we are issuing a state of emergency in the City. This allows us to bring additional resources to support our efforts. Our focus in the coming hours will be identifying the victims and notifying the families. We are setting up a hotline for concerned family members – 407.246.4357. The identification process may take some time. We ask for your patience as we want to be accurate. I continue to be proud of how our community has responded. #PrayforOrlando”

Governor Rick Scott, visibly shaken by the tragedy said he has children and grandchildren and cannot imagine what the families are going through and urged people to pray for the families of the victims and the community.

Scott said, “We are blessed to have the law enforcement we have, the Orange County police department, the Sheriff Department, FDLE all the federal agencies, everybody has coordinated their activities very well.”

State Attorney Jeff Ashton said, “This is a terrible, terrible evil act. As a father of seven, I called and checked on some of my kids this morning to make sure they were ok. We’re doing everything we can, law enforcement is working well together, our victim advocates are helping out to see if we can work with families and I just encourage everyone, as I did my staff, to just please donate blood, because we are going to need a lot of it.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer swiftly prepared by having resources available for family members of the victims. Dyer, requested assistance from Governor Rick Scott for Central Floridians and both are working together, along with State Attorney Jeff Ashton, to help the families and victims in this tragic mass murder.

Mateen, a 30-year old American born citizen, motives are still unclear. Mateen’s father told NBC News, “This has nothing to do with religion.”  He said his son became angry after seeing two men kissing a few months ago in Miami. He speculates this could have triggered his decision to kill. Governor Scott added, “For anybody that thinks that they should do this, I can tell you the State of Florida, the law enforcement, will be swift in their justice.”

People are urged to donate O+, O- and AB blood types at One Blood center on Michigan Avenue in Orlando. Visit www.oneblood.org and find a location near you or find the Big Red Bus to donate.

This massacre comes on the heels of the recent shooting Friday night at The Plaza Live in downtown Orlando that ended in the death of “The Voice” and YouTube singer Christina Grimmie. A gunman, Kevin James Loibl, from St. Petersburg, Florida walked into The Plaza Live and shot her in the head three times as she signed autographs. Loibl was tackled by Grimmie’s brother and then shot himself during the struggle. Loibl was carrying two extra magazines of ammunition and a hunting knife. Grimmie later died at the hospital.