Charles Blow on Son Being Stopped at Gunpoint: “Bullets Cannot Be Called Back”

After unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman, New York Times columnist Charles Blow began making regular appearances on news shows to discuss what it’s like to be a black man and raise black children in a society hostile towards both. Over the weekend, Blow learned firsthand the helplessness a black parent faces when their innocent child is harassed by police.

In a series of tweets, Blow revealed that a Yale cop had pulled a gun on his son:

NYT Charles Blow tweetsBlow went on to add that this is why he has “no patience” for people trying to convince him that the irrational fear of young black men isn’t real.

Blow’s son, a third year biology major, was stopped on his way home from the library because he “fit the description”of a suspect they were searching for.

Early Monday morning, Blow further addressed the racial profiling his son experienced:

Now, don’t get me wrong: If indeed my son matched the description of a suspect, I would have had no problem with him being questioned appropriately. …The stop is not the problem; the method of the stop is the problem.

Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?

What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a “suspicious” movement? Had I come close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.

This is not a departure for Blow, who wrote in the Times that the entire system failed Trayvon Martin.

“The system failed him when Florida’s self-defense laws were written, allowing an aggressor to claim self-defense in the middle of an altercation — and to use deadly force in that defense — with no culpability for his role in the events that led to that point,” Blow wrote in 2013.

“The system failed him because of the disproportionate force that he and the neighborhood watchman could legally bring to the altercation — Zimmerman could legally carry a concealed firearm, while Martin, who was only 17, could not,” Blow explained.  “The system failed him when the neighborhood watchman grafted on stereotypes the moment he saw him, ascribing motive and behavior and intent and criminal history to a boy who was just walking home.”


6 Comment

  1. I do hope Mr. Blow pursues a lawsuit if possible and the firing of that officer. We can no longer claim ignorance or bundling of the police process and conduct when you don't follow protocols of your job , especially where human lives are at stake……………….ok

  2. He capsulizes the whole issue succinctly. He should be fuming just as all of us should be fuming with him.

  3. This is an unfortunate incident and I pray often for men of color and my own son. I think sometimes how fortunate I am thus far. I am even at ease when my son is not dressed like the traditional stereotypical type of man that is often dressed doing crimes. In our society we have had to protect our families from discrimination, systemic racism, and ignorance. Knowing these types of barriers exist prepares you for the unknown. The problem with officers is that they tend to be jealous of their lack of material wealth and assume that people of color are doing something illegal when in an affluent environment or have access to fancy car and trinkets. Black and hispanic men have to stop doing ignorant things to gain money. They have to start realizing that they are doing their families and their communities a disservice when involving in illegal activities. The only people getting rich are Bob Barker and other corporations that invest in the prison industry. Jail does not rehabilitate all the time. Many of the men are in jail for non violent crimes. The same energy that men use to make money illegally, could be used to create their own legal activities. Blacks are not given the chances, programs are not accessible, and most affluent blacks are not reaching back into their communities to create housing, education and jobs. The politicians have dropped the ball, and so have the religious institutions. Families are broken and women are foolishly agreeing on raising children without the help from fathers. That is a bad mistake. Men need to snap out of it and be a significant part of the community, which will help change the perception of the family. Women have got to raise their standards and entire families have to work together to raise the children when parents are negligent. Although my son does not dress like most young men his age, he may still come across an overzealous officer because he travels in areas where there are limited people of color. He may be approached by a retard like George Zimmerman. I told him early on what not to do when approached by an officer and a stranger. We really are living in times where there are too many people running around doing dumb things and it affects us all. The neighbors used to protect your kids when you were at work, now they turn the other cheek. I hope that the recent protests that men and women are involved in brings about laws being changed and officers need to have better training. Also, flashing a gun is a sign of weakness and not of protection. If this young man did not pose a threat there should have never been a gun involved. I hope the laws change but people have to voice their opinion, go to their community meetings, make politicians that are voted in office be accountable. Police that are racists or nervous should not be on the force, period. But let us not give a pass to known criminals in the community that have made it horrible and though we are not all related, we are still grouped together and classed by the color of our skin. This country is a melting pot but the cook is selective about the ingredients.

  4. We ARE all fuming with him over this incident. This is now commonplace with no recourse to Justice That is why we have to UNITE, African American, Hispanics, Asians, Caucasians, all of us in the Movement for Justice in America. United as one force we can bring about a change in the unjust Justice system.

  5. I just love that favorite line the police always uses, you fit the description of the suspect or I feared for my life. Such a joke, we are the ones that better be fear for our life, because we don’t know when a police officer is going to get trigger happy.

  6. Unfortunate is accidental. There is nothing unfortunate about this. This is a PATTERN. And patterns are DELIBERATE , SYSTEMATIC and INTENTIONAL. UNITY financially and socailly is the only answer at this point……………………………ok

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