Buffalo police kill a Black man – yet again

On Saturday morning, on Buffalo’s East Side, police shot and killed a Black man – yet again. 

Edward ‘Eddie’ Holmes was a brother, father, and grandad. He was a chef, skater, biker, mechanic, and loved cars and cowboy hats. (Quote: Black Love Resists in the Rust)

The version presented by police was that a phone call was made describing a man with a gun who “may shoot at anyone”. The call was responded to by C-district cops, who promptly killed the man in a hail of bullets after he fired one shot. The Commissioner said that they weren’t sure what direction the man fired in, and also claimed that the phone number for the 911 caller is the same as the phone number of the man who was killed by police.

Just based on the information from the 911 call, it appears clear that the person was experiencing some kind of a mental health crisis. The police had forewarning of the potential danger of the situation. Rather than utilizing any kind of de-escalation tactics or non-lethal means of engaging with the man, the police did what they have always done when responding to a call about a Black man — kill him without a second thought.

Buffalo’s East Side residents are seeking justice and answers for this killing which took place during Black history month, in a community still grieving from the racist killings at Tops Supermarket, where ten people were killed by a white supremacist who, not surprisingly, was apprehended unharmed by the same police in 2022.

Racist killers like the Tops shooter are often downplayed as “mentally ill”, and their obvious fascist identity is ignored. This is used as a justification for careful treatment of the shooters. But when police receive a mental health call for a Black person, the response is quite the opposite.

Why is it that when white shooters, in Buffalo and in cities across the country, commit acts of mass violence, they are detained with the utmost care and gentleness?

Why do police continue to receive increases in funding each year for new training and equipment when they still shoot to kill as a default response to mental health calls?

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown advocated for the $5 million dollar increase in the 2023 police budget, which allocated funding for a Behavioral Health Team. This is supposed to pair police with specially trained mental health professionals. Yet every few months, we continue to receive news of police shooting yet another victim.

The actions of the police force haven’t changed despite body cameras, fancy military equipment, citizen review boards, training programs and new “plans”. As long as police are an occupying army on the East Side, they will continue to behave with the colonial mentality and brutality of an occupying army.

The historic role of the police in this country is to enforce white supremacy and defend property above human life. The police follow in the footsteps of the Ku Klux Klan, from which they inherited their social role. When police enter the Black community and kill, the intended result is the same as the Klan and the Tops shooter — to terrorize and subordinate.

White supremacy forms the bedrock of the capitalist economic system, a system based on endless accumulation of profit and dependent on the perpetual subjugation of Black people. When police respond to a call, no matter how much training and different equipment they are given, this is the lens through which they view every encounter. Whether it’s a mental health crisis involving a weapon or a simple traffic stop over a broken tail light, Black people are always seen as a threat to be eliminated without hesitation.

Police in the United States mirror the same intensely violent behavior towards Black people that the Israeli Occupation Forces display towards Palestinians. Both the United States and Israel are settler-nations built on stolen land — nations whose entire existence is predicated on the racial, ethnic, and national oppression. This is why U.S. police forces train with the Israeli occupation forces, exchange weapons and technology, and why, rather than “keeping us safe” they are the greatest threat to our safety.

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