Nashville police explained how it managed to arrest an armed White man suspected of domestic terrorism without firing a single shot, let alone killing him. In response, Black folks, and hopefully the rest of the world, found ourselves asking a familiar question: Why don’t all law enforcement give unarmed African-American suspected criminals the same professional courtesy?
Monday’s arrest ended a massive manhunt that began one day earlier after Travis Reinking, 29, allegedly murdered four people with an assault rifle at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville on Monday. The carnage would have been worse if 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., a Black man, had not tackled Reinking and wrestled the weapon from his hands. The suspect ran from the scene and evaded capture for more than 24-hours.
At a press conference, officials from the Nashville police, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and other agencies “copsplained” what happened during the arrest.
A citizen spotted Reinking at a construction site near a wooded area, Nashville police Lt. Carlos Lara told reporters. Detectives followed separate pathways in the woods, where an officer eventually encountered the suspect.
The detective told him to get on the ground, and Reinking complied. After he was put in handcuffs, the officers searched his backpack and discovered a semi-automatic handgun with ammunition.
To watch the entire press conference announcing Reinking’s arrest, click here.
Reinking clearly received the White privilege version of a police arrest. Officers suspected that Reinking would be armed when they finally caught him, yet they treated the killer with kid gloves.
By contrast, the body count is mounting for police killings of unarmed Black man who committed no violent offenses. Typically, the police shoot Black men first and ask questions later—often discovering that the so-called suspect wasn’t actually suspicious at all beyond the color of his or her skin.
Is it too much to ask for Black men to get the same treatment from the police that they give to suspected White killers?
Black women are not exempt from police brutality. On the same day that Reinking gunned down four people at the Nashville Waffle House, White officers violently [and, some might say, sexually, arrested an unarmed Black woman at a Waffle House in Saraland, Alabama. Three officers slammed Chikesia Clemons to the ground, exposed her breasts while one of the officers threatened to break her arm. Her offense was a verbal dispute reportedly over plastic utensils with the woman who took her order.