Melvin Twigg Mason
[Alert: movie spoilers included below.]
One of the latest film releases from Universal Studios is “Queen and Slim,” the heart-wrenching story of a black couple in Cleveland who get pulled over for a minor traffic violation. A dispute arises with the Caucasian police officer, causing the driver to take deadly action. The dispute occurs within the first few minutes of the film. After being pulled over, the passenger (Queen), a budding attorney, feels the need to question the officer’s motives and to express/assert their legal rights in this situation, much to the dismay of the driver, Slim, and against his otherwise cautionary behavior.
Because of Queen’s interjections, the situation escalates more & more, culminating in a lethal exchange of gunfire. The couple goes on the run, falling into other harrowing incidents all across the country before finaly meeting their demise.
This fictional story reminded me of a true story that was in the headlines a few years ago. Another African-American couple was involved in a high-speed police chase that ended up in a frenzy of bullets. You may remember when two Cleveland detectives allegedly saw a car speeding and heard what they thought was a gunshot near the Justice Center downtown. Upon pursuit of the vehicle, which refused to stop, they were joined in the chase by many other police cars from several neighboring jurisdictions. Once the car did decide to stop, officers opened fire on the vehicle with a barrage of bullets, and as you can imagine, this left the driver and passenger dead.
In the movie and in real life, no one seemed to question the participants unwillingness to submit to the legal process. Why didn’t either couple follow the officer’s commands/sirens? In both cases, we might not have had a tragedy to mourn had they simply followed instructions and/or pulled over. We should be outraged (and rightly so) by any discriminatory practices found within our judicial system and the ridiculous torrent of gunfire leveled at our communities. There is little justification for such deadly force. But again, this possibly wouldn’t be a conversation if they had followed orders and just — stopped — running.
But what do you think?