My name is Dr. Eric Miller and I have been a proud member of the greater New Braunfels community since 2004. Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting many people in the community and have found almost everyone that I have encountered to be helpful, thoughtful and caring.
I do believe that most New Braunfels residents do not share the beliefs of Mr. Whittaker and are probably appalled by them. I do think that there are some readers who do not know a lot about Black Lives Matter and do not understand why non-violent protests have been so vehement of late (but would like to understand and know more). To them, I will provide a brief context. I encourage all who are interested to do their own research on these topics and do not just take what I am saying (and especially what Mr. Whittaker is saying) as the final authority on this subject.
Mr. Whittaker is correct in mentioning that “black on black crime” is a serious problem in urban communities. However, I do not follow how he connects this to the Black Lives Matter movement. To do so thoroughly conflates the two.
To be clear, as Dr. Edwards said previously, the Black Lives Matter movement started in July of 2013 in response to the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of Mr. Zimmerman. It preaches nonviolent protest against police brutality aimed against African Americans. Even though I am happy to explain all of the history leading up to the formation of this organization, it would take more many more pages than the newspaper is willing to give me. Therefore, I am not going to talk about lynchings, voting disenfranchisement, destruction of whole towns such as Rosewood and Greenwood, or the assassinations/murders that have taken place over the years. I am not going to focus on African American church bombing/attacks but it should be noted that 30 black churches were attacked or burned in 1995 and 1996 and 11 have been attacked since 2011, including the well-known Dylann Roof incident.
I am just going to focus on the last 10 years and on police/citizen related homicides of unarmed black victims. I know many very fine police officers personally and this list is not an indictment of them. However, it is crystal clear that there is a problem with interactions between police and unarmed African Americans, even in very “routine” encounters. This is a microcosm of what African-Americans experience every day from many societal encounters.
Second amendment enthusiasts may want to review the 2016 case of 32-year-old Philando Castile who was fatally shot by police while trying to simply identify that he is an owner of a legal firearm and the 2020 Breonna Taylor case where her fiancée used a legal firearm against police who did not do a proper identification while breaking down his door leading him to believe that a home invasion was in progress (Breonna was shot eight times while sleeping). We all know the story of George Floyd but there was a near identical incident involving Eric Garner in 2014 (he was choked and also said that he could not breathe). What have we learned?
In addition since 2014 we have seen:
Atatiana Jefferson (28) was shot through her home window in front of an 8-year-old child (2019);
Stephon Clark (22) was shot in his own yard while holding a cell phone and not a weapon (2018);
Botham Jean (26) was eating ice cream in his own home and was shot by an off-duty officer who entered his home thinking it was hers (2018);
Freddie Gray (25) was found to have a severed spinal cord and head trauma during an arrest (2015);
Alton Sterling (37) was shot outside a store while selling CDs (2016);
Akai Gurley (28) was killed by a random patrol officer walking through the neighborhood (2014);
Tamir Rice (12) was shot by officers while playing with a toy gun that someone gave him at a picnic (2014);
Michael Brown (18) was killed while walking home with a friend;
Walter Scott (34) was shot while fleeing from an arresting officer at a distance of 20 feet;
Finally, Michael Dean was killed in Texas during a routine traffic stop;
Note that this list is not exhaustive and does not include people such as Trayvon Martin and L. Ahmaud Arbery who were killed by “citizens”. It should also be noted that many of the perpetrators of these crimes were never charged or were acquitted. We should finally note that several of these have happened in Texas.
I encourage all to look up information about some of the names that I have listed and come to your own conclusion. Mr. Whittaker’s words are demonstrative, at best, of a serious lack of understanding and at worst, stolen rhetoric that is symbolic of decades of institutional racism that continue to permeate our society.
To be clear, I am describing his words and I am not describing him as a person. Truthfully, I do not know Mr. Whittaker but I would hope that one day we could have a respectful conversation about this. Unlike what we see in today’s society and especially in today’s political arena, we are all better off when people from different sides of an argument can have meaningful discussion.