I feel awful, and not just because I feel awful.
You may have heard there was another cop shooting this week where the cops killed an unarmed black man. Seems to be a fad these days. I hear them on the radio and they are upsetting but they are far from me, beyond my ability to affect or be a part of. But this one was 2 miles from my house at a taco shop between the vet I go to and the place I buy frozen yogurt. AND this person wasn’t just black, he was crazy.
(*For those of you who take offense to the word “crazy” or believe it promotes stigma, I don’t care. I am proud to be crazy myself and I use the word openly. The term “mentally ill” makes me MUCH more uncomfortable.)
That said, this man was crazy. His sister called for help, made it clear that her brother was not okay. After almost an hour a non-PERT team was sent to the scene and killed him. You can read the details in this article. The officer with extensive psych training responded appropriately by tazing the man. The other one shot the guy. He’s dead.
Immediately the Black Lives Matter movement and NAACP stepped in. Churches, vigils, protests, marches. Only last night did the events become violent. More is planned for tonight and something big on Saturday, though I don’t know what they are or how to find out the details.
I WANT TO BE INVOLVED. My mom says to stay away from all of that. My contact with the police replied somewhat cryptically to my response. My basic interpretation is, “Stay away from that, Michelle.” There are complaints about violence and I hear people look down on those acting out, but I don’t blame them. What else is there to do? What channel is there for expressing extreme anger and distress? for requesting help and change from a virtually impenetrable source? Of course there will be violence eventually. And it’s the only thing that proves effective right now. It makes the news, gets the word out, releases emotion and sometimes causes officials to actually do something they want or need done, like release information.
(watch live feed of press conference and release of video of shooting, approx 40 mins)
Wow. I’m really glad I live in a city that’s so coordinated and connected and prepared (somewhat) for things like this. The distress of the police chief came through the screen. He did a great job. I’m grateful someone asked about PERT and why PERT did not respond… (watch more, read more)
It’s upsetting to me that cops kill people. I try to avoid them at all costs when I’m not at a PERT Academy or similar event. They scare me. They kill people like me for being me. I’m upset that there is way more focus on the man being black than being in a mental health crisis. I’m upset that there’s no rallying behind the family by a national organization like NAMI or DBSA. I’m upset that only today, 3 days after the shooting, did anything related to the shooting show up on my support group FB group. I don’t watch the news but this is unavoidable. Someone heard SOMETHING. Is no one else upset? Does no one else also believe that crazy lives matter too? This event has implications for consumers, family & friends, and the community at large but I’ve receive no calls. I’ve gotten no emails from organizations locally stepping out saying what happened was if not wrong at least really fucked up and didn’t have to end that way. No condolence emails. No vigil notifications. I can’t even seem to find information on the civil rights-related events planned or happening. It’s like it doesn’t exist.
Meanwhile, I sit here wondering what to do. I want to be a part of change. I want to be able to take some action, to make a difference. That doesn’t happen on Facebook or lying on the floor. I don’t want to be one of the people who just stands by, who places their own safety above the greater good. I get mad at my mom for avoiding meaningful rallies and events because of danger. I don’t understand how she lived through the 60s and 70s and never joined a protest. It makes me angry. I walk toward the fire for things I believe in. I’m not afraid to die. But in this case I don’t know how. I don’t want to get injured at a protest. I don’t even know where to find them. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to be aloof or to put myself first. I want IN. How do I get there?
All the time I spend networking and talking to people, forming alliances and gathering info is my greatest addition to change, aside from crisis intervention. Here somehow that doesn’t feel adequate. It’s not enough. And no complaint form or grievance or blog post will fix that. I feel really sad.
I asked my PERT
person these rhetorical questions:
- What am I supposed to tell my people?
- What do I tell my consumers to try and remember to do or not do while in crisis to not get shot? (aside from the ERP list)
- What do I tell them when they freak out even more when someone does call because now they’re terrified of being shot too just for being in crisis?
- What do I tell my family & friends people when they want to know if it’s still safe to call 911 and hope for PERT?
- What do I tell them to make this okay?
- What do I tell all the sisters and relatives who now don’t want to ask for help because they don’t want to kill their loved one?
For some reason my people don’t seem upset. I’m not getting FB posts or phone calls or texts. I’m not even getting concern from people about the 2 deaths at a popular independent living this week – murder/suicide. Is everyone asleep?
I don’t know. I just want what I do to matter regarding this. I’m not a sit on the sidelines type of person. I’m crazy and I want change. I want to matter. I want to feel safe in my home and my city. I want to be me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016