During a Thursday press conference, the Washington D.C. college student who was chased, tackled, and injured by police earlier this week gave the explanation ironically used by officers in fatal shootings — the same (and valid) declaration uttered by many in communities of color when encountering those sworn to protect them.
He feared for his life. So he ran.
The statement is a familiar mainstay adopted by officers in cases where they use fatal or brutal force — and many times, wrongly so — but it’s not hard to believe that 18-year-old Jason Goolsby indeed thought he might die when a police SUV sped towards him and White officers jumped out with guns and pepper spray. Especially in the wake of a number of highly publicized police brutality incidents; one of which occurred just miles away in Baltimore this spring.
“He was well aware of the Freddie Gray incident, as well as numerous other incident of police brutality. He truly believed [the officer] was going to shoot him,” the teenager’s lawyer, Peter Grenier, said at Thursday’s press conference.
“I seen a gun and pepper spray,” Goolsby said. “I feared for my life. I didn’t want to die.”
Goolsby, a musician, was just standing at the ATM, contemplating whether or not to withdraw money for a studio session. But the student and his friend “were taught that when police cars drive up on black men, they have good reason to be afraid,” DCist reports. So the only logical thing for the University of the District of Columbia student to do was run.
And that’s what he did. But had the White woman who he opened the door for at the bank not felt “uncomfortable” at his mere presence, the incident might not have happened in the first place.
As the 18-year-old UDC student decided whether he still wanted to take out the cash, he saw a white couple headed toward the ATM with their baby, Grenier said. Instinctively, Goolsby opened the door for them to make it easier to get the stroller through.
Once they were inside, he didn’t exchange any words with the family. Be he did think it was strange when the woman said she had forgotten something in the car and headed out without doing their clearly intended errand of taking out money.
D.C. Police said in a statement that they got a call “for a suspicious person, three subjects may be trying to rob people at the ATM.” The Washington Post reports that the 911 caller told the operator: “We just left but we felt like if we had taken money out we might’ve gotten robbed.”
Unaware of the call, Gooslby then left himself and was heading toward a 90 bus stop to visit his brother at Howard University when a fast-moving police SUV headed straight toward him, his lawyer said. Thinking that the car was about to run him over, he quickly jumped on the curb and was both scared and bewildered when the white police officer driving the car demanded he get on the ground.
The incident, Goolsby’s lawyer suggested, was indeed about race.
“Being black is not probable cause for being arrested or detained,” Grenier said, adding that they would consider filing a lawsuit after their investigation into the incident was complete. “I have zero doubt that if these young men were white, none of this would have happened,” he said.
Grenier is currently reviewing whether the civil rights of Goolsby and the friend who videotaped the incident, Michael Brown, were violated after being profiled, detained for two hours, and then released.
For Goolsby, whose shoulder was injured in the melee, he just wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“I want to see justice,” he said at the conference.
1. Nina Simone: Accomplished pianist, singer, songwriter and activist Nina Simone stayed true to her self throughout her career. She was beloved in the soul and blues realms, although she wanted to be seen as a folk singer. She drew inspiration from her time at Julliard and performed in jazz and soul clubs. In the 1950's the singer released her full length album and reached Top 40 status. In that time, she also became close to the civil rights movement. Her release of "Mississippi Goddam," helped paint a soundtrack to the movement. The song was inspired by the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls. Her connection to the movement caused her to be blacklisted in Hollywood and criticized by her own husband, who was her manager. After finding continued fame overseas, the singer released more music to her own liking and returned to the states to perform a handful of times. Her story was told in the recent documentary "What Happened, Miss Simone?" unveiling her abusive past with her husband and troubles after her affiliation to the civil rights movement.
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2. Muhammad Ali: Known to many as the greatest fighter of all time, the boxer used his fame to speak out on many racial issues. After he earned a gold medal for 1960 Olympics in Rome, he was refused service in a diner for the color of his skin. These and other moments led the fighter to speak out against racism. He also stayed true to his Muslim beliefs and refused to fight in the Vietnam war after he was drafted. His decision to not fight with the Army led to him being stripped of his heavyweight title, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. He returned to the ring in the 70's, and had wins and losses during his battles with Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Larry Holmes. After he retired from boxing in 1981, he discovered he had Parkinson's Disease in 1984.
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3. Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis: Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were the epitome of Black love and power throughout their long lasting careers. While Ossie and Ruby were dominating the theater and big screen in the 50's and 60's, their love of the people and civil rights made them icons in the movement. After advocating for rights for African-Americans, the couple was met with criticism by reporters who claimed they were "ambushing captive white liberals" during panel discussions. The couple continued to fight for rights and took dominating roles together and apart. Some of their shared memorable films include the Spike Lee flicks, Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever. Their stars continued to shine bright well into their later years, with both actors performing in the theatre. Ossie passed away at 87 in 2005 and Dee at 91 in 2014.
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4. Kanye West: The artist has seen more than a few moments of political correctness in his career. In 2005, the rapper slammed former president George Bush by saying he didn't care about black people because of his delay in assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina. His statements made him a controversial force on stage, although he maintains his musical success.
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5. Denzel Washington: Everyone is aware of Denzel's Oscar winning roles and charming sex appeal, but the actor had to face challenging stereotypes early in his career. During an interview in 2012, the actor says his transition form TV to film was met with directors pressing him to play a harsh stereotype of a black man. In a movie he jokingly called, "The Nigga They Couldn't Kill," the actor says during the film's development, he was told he had to perform minstrel-like tendencies as the white characters found ways to kill him for a crime he allegedly committed. He declined the role and was later in films like Cry Freedom, Glory and fan favorite, Training Day. Denzel continues to dominate films and will star in the remake of The Magnificent Seven and a sequel to the 2014 hit, The Equalizer.
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7. Dave Chappelle: The comedian was at the top of comedy in 2004. With the brilliant sketch-comedy “The Chappelle Show," the comedian gained fans from all over the world with his critical and hilarious views on racism and social issues. In 2004, Chappelle walked away from it all after it was announced he would be given $50 million for the third season of Chappelle's Show. The comedian went to South Africa for two weeks, although many claimed he moved to the country to escape American media. During an interview on Bravo's Inside The Actors Studio, the comedian explained his disdained for Hollywood's creative control of his work made him walk away from the money and the fame. He didn't believe that people were critically looking at racism in the way he was. He also wanted to focus on his family and getting back to his true passion — standup. Chappelle made a comeback of sorts in 2013 when he began performing standup through tours and surprise concerts. He announced Monday a 13-city U.S Fall tour.
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8. N.W.A: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Ice Cube and MC Ren came together as N.W.A. in the late 80's to deliver their depiction of life in South Central L.A. The artists also told stories of gang violence and police brutality. The group's release of Straight Outta Compton put the city on the map and also a target on their backs. They were investigated by the FBI over the tracks "F*** Tha Police" and "Gangsta Gangsta" for their criticism of police brutality. Despite criticism and people burning their CD's, the group continued to grow and sell over 75 million records worldwide. Label and management issues led to the group's breakup, but before Eazy-E's untimely death, he and the rest of the group reconciled. A biopic on the group was released in August and topped the box office, making just over $60 million.
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9. Azealia Banks: There aren't many female voices in hip-hip as dominating as Azealia Banks. The Harlem bred artist bursted to the scene at the age of 17 and found success in 2012 with the release of "212." With cosigners like Kanye West and a huge social media following, Banks found herself at the top and pressured to release her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste. In the years it took to the get the delayed album on the shelves, the singer made a name for herself by speaking out on culture appropriation of Black women, sexism in the rap game and shared her thoughts on the country's moral compass when it comes to addressing racism. Her statements, in just 140 characters, shook up the industry, leaving her to fall out with producers like Pharrell and Diplo. Backlash has yet to stop the artist from touring and performing and finally in 2014, her album was released and was praised by fans. Currently the "Ice Princess" spitter is on tour in the U.S.
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Continue reading “I Feared For My Life:” Teen Tackled By D.C. Police Speaks Out, May File Civil Rights Lawsuit
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