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In memory of Jeremiah

Jeremiah was an honored, loving, popular, smart and spiritual young man planning to go into the Coast Guard after high school, who had a mental health crisis at the age of 16. Instead of EMTs helping get him to a health care facility, like his parents called for, first responders were sheriff deputies who had no skills at de-escalation nor the tact to deal with someone having a psychotic break, nor the wits to recognize that the level of threat was low and they should go slow. But Jeremiah was a black boy in a white family. The officers attacked him and then shot him, unarmed in the back of the family car, within two minutes of their arrival.

Everyone who is ever stopped by police is going to be nervous, to some degree. Those of us privileged with white skin, and traits law enforcement personnel approve of, generally have far less to be anxious about than people of color. But law officers are confronted with far more complex situations than they are equipped to handle, including their own internal biases, to have as much freedom with weapons as they are given. That day I learned to fear for children of color. Their humanity is not the first attribute police see.

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