It just means you are sick and tired, nothing else. I leave my house each day with a mixture of apprehension and caution.

There isn’t a panacea you get that rids you of these senseless shootings.

Living like this is a bit unnerving to me. We seem to be a society of shootings at times.

What happened to the good old days? The good old days are long gone and will never return. Of course, that is my opinion, and you may think otherwise.

If you think otherwise, then good for you. I bet you are not a valid senior citizen like me. I have seen a lot and so have other senior citizens and we have a different perspective.

We know what the good old days really were.

Those days allowed us to go into the public square and not have to worry about getting hit by a stray bullet. We didn’t see men shooting one another.

Back in years gone by, Black men settled their disagreements at the worst by fighting each other. Guns weren’t used or even seen.

In my neighborhood in Winston-Salem, N.C., I never saw a gun. There were no reports or talk about guns in the neighborhood.

Those were the good old days.

People sat on their porches and laughed and joked. They told tall tales which made you think, did that really happen? You see, we had great storytellers.

Before you think it was perfect, I will stop you and tell you that it wasn’t.

We had the police, and we had a fear of them. Yet there was not this monthly shooting of Black men by white police officers.

‘Driving While Black’ has become a sad but truthful axiom about what is happening to Black men by the police. We are being stopped and shot by the police. Strangely and unfortunately, these traffic stops have led to our untimely deaths in too many cases.

Most recently, we have seen another Black life end at the hands of a white police officer. On April 4, 2022, Patrick Lyoya lived his last day on Earth. He was shot by a Grand Rapids, Michigan police officer.

Patrick Lyoya was a Black Congolese refugee, and the white police officer has yet to be identified.

How did Patrick Lyoya lose his life? The reports say it was a routine traffic stop. More specifically, it was for an unregistered license plate. 

It is my opinion that there is nothing routine about being stopped by the police. So, it begs the basic question of humanity, how do you lose your life over an unregistered license plate?

These types of incidents have me sick beyond words. It is reprehensible to watch this happening in America.

Peter Lyoya, Patrick’s father said, “My heart is broken to see an officer being on top of my son and to shoot him in the back of the head, my heart is really broken.”

I just wonder at that critical moment, was the officer’s only recourse of action to shoot him in the back of the head? 

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has requested that the Department of Justice launch an investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan is also involved.

Vickie Levengood, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights said, “At some point between late 2019 or sometime in 2020, we initially reached out to both agencies hoping to discuss options for collaborative investigations or some help in investigating this pattern or practice issue.”

This term, “pattern or practice” has come about because of what is happening from a social justice perspective in Michigan.

Let us pray for the family of Patrick Lyoya. They should not have this kind of pain and suffering. Patrick Lyoya should still be living.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a youth advocate, consultant, author and president emeritus of the Teen Mentoring Committee (TMC) of Ohio.

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