Nov 25, 2013
A nineteen-year-old black woman, Renisha McBride, was shot and killed in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The Dearborn Heights police initially refused to charge her killer, a white man named Theodore Wafer, saying they were still investigating.
Certain facts in the case are known. McBride had earlier been involved in a car accident. She apparently had been drinking, and was by herself, late at night, in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Since McBride is now dead, no one can say for sure what happened in the roughly two hours between the accident and when she was killed. What is known for sure is that she came to the front porch of Wafer’s home, he was behind a locked door and a locked screen door, he had a loaded shotgun, and he unloaded the gun in the face of a black teenage woman.
The police initially told McBride’s family she was killed elsewhere and her body dumped in Dearborn Heights. Neighbors say the police told them McBride tried to break into the home, and the homeowner shot her in self-defense.
The Dearborn Heights cops lied. They knew who killed McBride, because Wafer called 911 and told the dispatcher he shot her. Even they now admit there were no signs she tried to break into the home, nothing the homeowner could construe as a threat.
As this information became public, the attitudes of the white homeowner’s defenders and the authorities shifted to the assassination of McBride’s character. They said McBride had been drinking heavily and had marijuana in her system. No one bothered to test the shooter for alcohol, and if McBride was heavily intoxicated, it means she was even less of a threat to Wafer.
If a man inside his own home, who could have moved away from the door and called 911, believed this young black woman was a threat, it absolutely reflects the racist attitudes in this society. In the real material world she was obviously no threat, but in his mind she was. The same racist attitudes are reflected in the attempts of the Dearborn Heights Police Department to cover for McBride’s killer and the attempts of the authorities and the media to demonize every black person killed by someone white. Those racist attitudes have claimed another victim.