[Content Note: Police brutality; death; white supremacy.]

On July 26, a white 19-year-old named Zachary Hammond was killed by police in South Carolina, in a manner that will sound depressingly familiar:
A Seneca police officer shot the teen twice on Sunday during an arrest for suspected drugs, according to Greenville Online.

Police say Hammond was driving another woman to a parking lot, where an undercover agent had arranged to purchase drugs from her.

The officer got out of his marked vehicle and approached Hammond's car with his weapon drawn, Police Chief John Covington said, noting that this is standard practice for a "narcotics" investigation. That's when, according to the chief, Hammond accelerated his car toward the officer, local Fox affiliate WHNS notes. Covington maintains that his officer "fired two shots in self-defense" as Hammond "drove directly at him."

But the Hammond family's attorney, Eric Bland, sees a different picture when looking at the teen's newly released autopsy report.

"It is clearly, clearly from the back," Bland told Greenville Online on Wednesday. "It is physically impossible for him to be trying to flee or run over the officer that shot him."
My condolences to Hammond's family and friends. I hope that they have access to the support they need, and that they will find something resembling justice.

Hammond's death has not garnered nearly the same media coverage as the black women and men who have been killed by police and/or died in police custody. However: #BlackLivesMatter activists—you know, the ones who are constantly accused by assholes of being divisive race-baiters—have been sending up flares about the killing of Zachary Hammond.

And Nick Wing has some terrific observations about who is talking about Zachary Hammond, and who isn't, here: "A Cop Killed a White Teen and the #AllLivesMatter Crowd Said Nothing."
Hammond's whiteness has certainly factored into the response to his death. No public outcry has questioned the media's use of family photos that appear to show a younger boy, still wearing braces. No wave of Internet denizens has scoured the victim's social media profiles in search of ways to somehow blame him for his own death. Nobody appears to have called for a discussion of white-on-white crime. No stories have been written about whether Hammond's parents had criminal records or asked if he was ever in trouble at school. At least not yet.

These points are no consolation to a dead 19-year-old. But they differ from the reality of what black people routinely face in similar situations.

Hammond's death also highlights a truth many white Americans seem reluctant to face: that police violence can affect anyone—their white friends, cousins, brothers, sisters, even themselves. Though bad policing may take a disproportionate toll on communities of color, the calls for reform now being voiced loudest by people of color would benefit all of us.

Many people in the Black Lives Matter movement have been saying this since the beginning, which is why, in the absence of much mainstream media coverage, black Twitter has taken the most active role in making sure Hammond's name and story are heard.

...If the snide retort to #BlackLivesMatter is that #AllLivesMatter—a shallow rejoinder that misses the point entirely—the resounding silence around Hammond's death exposes these complaints for what they often are: narrow-minded attempts to squelch honest discussions about the black experience. If these people truly believe that all lives matter, they should speak out about Hammond's death, just as they should have spoken out about the questionable deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Natasha McKenna or Ryan Bolinger, a white man killed by Iowa police in June.
Wing goes on to observe that there are three reasons (certainly among others) for the lack of national media attention on the police killing of Hammond. First, that no video has been released, "and there's nothing cable news loves more than a shockingly violent clip to play on loop." Secondly, that there's no racial narrative to this case: Hammond was white and the officer who shot and killed him is white. But, says, Wing:
there is a third, more basic difference surrounding his death.

White America's apathetic response to the killing of a young white man is not just evident on Twitter. It also appears to be the prevalent attitude in the mostly white town of Seneca and in surrounding Oconee County, which is almost 90 percent white. The community there has not organized protests or demonstrations. They haven't held rallies or vigils—or at least any that have been well-attended enough to attract even local news coverage. The national media aren't likely to parachute into a local story when nobody there, apart from Hammond's parents, seems to think it is a story.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that white Americans have, for the most part, collectively shrugged at police violence. Polls have repeatedly shown that white people are much more likely to have confidence in the police, suggesting that they're either more willing to believe that officers are justified in their actions or that the system can be trusted to sort it out if they're not. As Ebony's Jamilah Lemieux notes, speaking up about Hammond now would create a conflict for many of those people: "#ZacharyHammond isn't going to get the outrage he deserves because it would force folks to admit their consistent defense of police is wrong."
And instead of admitting that perhaps they have been overestimating the police, affording them too much good faith each and every time they kill people, despite mountainous evidence to the contrary, the white folks (especially) who reflexively defend police will merely keep silent even as they are faced with evidence that police killings must be scrutinized and stopped.

Better to just let police going on killing people without meaningful accountability than to admit that maybe they have been catastrophically wrong.

The truth is, many white people would rather be silent for Zachary than speak up for black people.

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