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Botham Jean Killed by Police for Living While Black

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]otham Shem Jean was in his apartment the night of August 6, when Dallas cop Amber Guyger entered and shot him in the chest. Botham Jean, a 26-year-old immigrant from the island nation of St. Lucia, died soon after.

Botham Jean was a recent graduate of a Christian university in Arkansas. He was a young man who had landed a well-paying job and nice apartment in a major city. A young Black man who endeared himself to all who met him. He never had so much as a parking ticket and did everything Black youths are told to do to “stay out of trouble.” And now a Dallas pig—who has a record of using her gun on “suspects,” including shooting a Latino man in the abdomen last year—cut his life short before it could fully blossom.

But it wasn’t enough for this pig to simply murder Botham Jean. The police released information claiming they found a miniscule amount of marijuana in Jean’s apartment, and the media in Dallas and nationally blared it out. As if a few joints have a fucking thing to do with the fact that Botham Jean was murdered in cold blood by the police! Family members and people broadly in the Dallas area are furious at the filthy racist attempt to slander a young man murdered with no justification. 

Pigs Struggle to Get Their Lies in Line

Other Dallas cops arrived four minutes after Jean was shot. Guyger told them the utterly unbelievable bullshit that she thought she was entering her own apartment, which is a floor below Jean’s. She said she pushed on a door that was slightly ajar, saw Jean inside the apartment, thought he was a thief, and gave him “verbal commands” he did not obey.

Guyger’s fellow pigs found her excuse acceptable. As the Dallas Observerreported, detectives “asked Guyger a couple of questions, drew her blood for alcohol and drug testing and let her leave, following procedures typically used when police shoot someone while on duty.”

First of all, Guyger wasn’t on duty. Second, no pig should ever be “allowed to leave” when they murder someone!

Guyger remained uncharged for three days. Finally, she was arrested and charged—with manslaughter, not murder. She was out on bond in 80 minutes.

Within hours of the murder of Botham Jean, Dallas police obtained a warrant to ransack (“search”) his apartment. They still have not searched Guyger’s. An affidavit for the search warrant claims that Jean confronted Guyger at the door as she tried to get into his apartment, and that a neighbor “heard an exchange of words, immediately followed by at least two gunshots.”

But Lee Merritt, a lawyer for the Jean family, told of accounts from two neighbors in the building which were left out of police reports. He said that “one happened to be in a quiet room reading a book, so she was in the best position to hear things. She heard pounding at the door. The other (witness) was in the living room (of her own apartment) watching TV. She also heard the same pounding at the door.”

To provide the appearance of an impartial investigation of Botham Jean’s murder, Dallas police have turned it over to the Texas Rangers—a paramilitary force founded to carry out genocide of Native Americans, which then became a major force in murderous repression of Mexicans, and enforcement of Jim Crow lynch law—traditions it continues to uphold in today’s genocidal climate of mass incarceration and a militarized border.

The System Hasn’t Changed—and It Needs to Be Overthrown

Angry protests have rippled across Dallas since word of Botham Jean’s murder became public. People have marched and rallied throughout downtown, briefly taken over an interstate, and disrupted city council meetings with chants and demands that there be justice for Botham Jean, that his killer be charged with murder.

Dallas has a well-earned reputation as one of the most racist, reactionary cities in the country. City leaders say that has changed. As evidence, they point to the fact that the police chief, the district attorney, and the sheriff are all Black women.

Some of the faces in power have changed. But what hasn’t changed is the capitalist-imperialist system they represent. A system whose enforcers routinely murder, brutalize, and imprison Black and Brown youth. A system whose laws uphold that brutality, and whose officials try to crush or suffocate opposition to it. Every step of the way through this case—from the murder of Botham Jean to the release of police reports intended to paint him as a drug user and a possibly violent person—this system has been in full operation.

The Dallas County district attorney says the case against Guyger could go to a grand jury, and she could still be charged with murder. But two things must be understood.

The fight to win justice for Botham Jean and to arrest and convict Guyger for murder must continue and deepen. And, most of all, growing numbers of people need to be working with determination, creativity, and perseverance towards an actual revolution. A revolution which uproots and overthrows the system that has murderous oppression of Black people ingrained in its DNA, a revolution which brings about the fundamental change so deeply needed.

Get with this revolution. Be part of bringing about that change.

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