Over a month after news broke that Megan Thee Stallion had been shot in the foot in a domestic dispute — prompting sexist ridicule on social media — Stallion, who had previously been tight-lipped about the details, has come forward to name her assailant: Tory Lanez. Further, she explained why there were initially rumors that her foot injury was caused by broken glass. “I didn’t tell the police what happened immediately, right then cause I didn't want to die,” she said. While her chilling statement didn’t surprise her supporters, who’d already suspected it was Lanez, it spoke volumes to how people of color regard the police and beliefs about who they are meant to protect.
In an Instagram Live video that has been widely shared online, Megan Thee Stallion says that she was afraid for her life as soon as police arrived at the scene, due to the many recent instances of police brutality. “The police come [and] I’m scared. All this [stuff] going on with the police?... Police was literally killing Black people for no… reason,” she said, detailing the responding officers’ immediate aggression toward her — the victim.
Megan continues, “You think I'm about to tell the police that we, us Black people, got a gun in the car? You want me to tell the laws that we got a gun in the car so they can shoot all of us up?” She also recalled that even as doctors told her they found bullets in her foot, she insisted that she wasn’t aware of having been shot — all to avoid further persecution from the police department.
The video has prompted many people on Twitter to speak out in defense of the “WAP” rapper.
Megan Thee Stallion says that Tory Lanez shot her. That’s ALL we need to hear, all we need to. That is wrongful, that is shameful, that is illegal, that is criminal. @theestallion should not be vilified. Tory Lanez is the villain.
LISTEN to Black women.
SUPPORT Black women.
— Mychal (@mychal3ts) August 21, 2020
Wow this is really sad! @theestallion courageously exposed Tory Lanez as the one who shot her and some folks have the nerve to call her a snitch! Ladies if you or someone you know are a victim of domestic violence please speak up! Don’t be silent! Meg is a hero! 👏🏽
— Amanda Johnson (@Amanda81991) August 21, 2020
Just step back and think about the fear Megan had. She was shot and was scared to tell the cops.
Some of y’all calling her a snitch? I don’t even know who Tory Lanez, but what I do know is he’s one y’all should be mad at. Y’all sick man.
— 🙅🏾♂️ (@_TheBigC) August 21, 2020
Tory Lanez shot Megan Thee Stallion as she was trying to walk away from an argument.
If you think that’s her fault, then you deserve to get shot so we can all:
-say you’re lying
-insult your looks
-discredit your accomplishments
Then it’s fair.
— You Know My Name (@LookAtDustin) August 21, 2020
Unfortunately, Megan Thee Stallion’s fears were not unwarranted, as it would not be the first time that police involvement meant to help someone wound up hurting them instead.
In October of last year, for example, the neighbor of Atatiana Jefferson, James Smith, expressed regret for calling police to perform a wellness check on Jefferson — a check that resulted in her death. Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “If I had not called the police to do a welfare check, my neighbor would still be alive.” He added, “They tell you if you see something, say something ... but if it causes someone to lose their life, it makes you not want to do that. It’s sad in this society.”
Then, in November 2019, a mother in Parkton, Md., called 911 for help because her son, 48-year-old Eric Sopp, was driving drunk and threatening suicide. Instead of receiving the “medical attention” she requested, the police shot and killed the unarmed man, after pulling him over on the Interstate, as he exited his vehicle.
And earlier that year, in March, 37-year-old Sterling Higgins called 911 from the parking lot of a convenience store because he felt that he was being followed by someone who wanted to rob and kill him. According to reports, one of the officers “suggested to Mr. Higgins that he probably needed to go to a hospital,” based on his erratic behavior, but instead he was killed while in police custody. Released surveillance footage showed a correctional officer restraining Higgins by the neck and head for almost 6 minutes — while his arresting officer kept one foot on him. Afterwards, Higgins’s lifeless body was dragged to a restraint chair and wheeled into a cell.
This gentleman is heavy on my mind + heart this morning. He called the police concerned about his neighbor. The police murdered her. If you believe in a Power Higher than yourself, join me in prayer + peaceful meditation for James Smith. #AtatianaJefferson pic.twitter.com/0iDjm0uhwT
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 13, 2019
These and other examples of police brutality have sown discord and mistrust among much of the general public — and especially within the Black community. In a 2019 survey from Pew Research Center, over 80 percent of Black adults said that dealing with both police and the U.S. criminal justice system, Black people are treated less fairly than whites; over 60 percent of whites agreed with that statement, too. However, another survey found that “over 90 percent of white officers — but only 29 percent of their Black colleagues — said the U.S. had made the changes needed to assure equal rights for Blacks.” Meanwhile, over 40 percent of Black people were “doubtful that the U.S. will ever achieve racial equality.”
In an earlier survey, of almost 8,000 officers, “two-thirds said most such encounters are isolated incidents and not signs of broader problems between police and the Black community,” although in a “companion survey of more than 4,500 U.S. adults,” more than half of the participants said these incidents are “signs of broader problems between police and Black people.”
Homicides and robberies have spiked in the wake of a deadly pandemic and increasingly visible police violence.
Experts say it’s because of community mistrust of cops, and cops failing to do their jobs in an attempt to avoid liability. #DefundPolice https://t.co/eyQej8joud
— malkia devich-cyril (@culturejedi) August 14, 2020
Clark Neily, vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, tells Yahoo Life, “If your perception as a Black person is that you are more likely to be the target of unwarranted force on the part of a police officer than a white person, you’re absolutely right to believe that. It’s not like it’s certain that they’re going to hurt you, but it is more likely that they’re going to hurt you ... there’s no question about that.”
Neily cited the case of Philando Castille — the Minnesota man who was shot by a police officer, who was ultimately found not guilty after being charged with second-degree manslaughter, during a traffic stop in 2017. Castille “did nothing wrong" and was killed anyway, he says.
“I’m a white person, but if I were a Black person, that would absolutely be on my mind during an encounter — particularly where there has been a shooting. ... I’m going to be nervous, no matter what color I am, but I’m going to be a lot more nervous if I’m Black.”
America tends to “characterize officers involved in misconduct as ‘a few bad apples,’” civil rights attorney Alexis Hoag told Scientific American recently, but countered that “we all need to admit that it’s not a few bad apples; it’s a rotten apple tree. ... The history of policing in the South [was driven in part by] slave patrols that were monitoring the movement of Black bodies. And in the North, law enforcement was privately funded [and often involved protecting property and goods]. The police got started targeting poor people and Black people.”
Similarly, National Police Foundation senior research fellow and ex-police officer Dr. David J. Thomas argued in a recent blog post that due to the racist history of America’s first police departments and the many instances of police brutality thus far, “law enforcement must regain the public’s trust.” He wrote: “When I discuss police/citizen encounters with my peers, there is an inherent belief that citizens should obey our commands and trust us. Peers, why, and what have we done to instill trust in the citizens we serve? Today, simply being ‘the police’ is not enough.”
Thomas further explained that officers are trained to use “loud verbal repetitive commands” when attempting to detain civilians, but that “when citizens don’t comply, [police] often become angry, impatient [and] more aggressive,” oftentimes escalating the situation by “shouting even louder.” Thomas continued, “When the citizen fails to comply, we get angry and force the situation, which in several instances has resulted in the use of deadly force,” he added, and that “when processing loud verbal commands and a firearm pointed in their face, many citizens become scared or even disoriented, police or not.” Because of that, Thomas suggested “a change of strategy.”
Hoag, meanwhile, recommended that change for equitable policing start on the national level, with “a really hard conversation.”
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