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.”


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