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Man Charged With Shooting Officer Basically Proves White People Are Invincible


Elder White Man Fires Handgun At Deputy. The Outcome Is Further Proof of White Privilege.

If there was ever an example of the fact that when it comes to the criminal justice system in America, white people are invincible; if ever a story exemplified what people of color call “white privilege,” the tale of Walter Bruce Ray coming out of Raleigh, North Carolina is it.

Black people, rightfully so, are in the grips of fear and agony, after two Black men — Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge) and Philando Castile (Falcon Heights) — within a matter of hours, were murdered in cold blood by police officers.

While we’re all too familiar with the cases of unarmed Black men killed by officers, Sterling and Castile, according to reports, were, in fact, “armed”, as in, both men had a firearm either on his person or in near proximity of it.

Neither of them actually held the firearms in question during the altercations. And, it’s also worth mentioning and emphasizing that each incident occurred in open carry states.

There are plenty of examples of white men armed with guns surviving encounters with police officers. You can read about a few of them here and here.

The case of 62-year-old, mentally-ill Walter Bruce Ray from Raleigh, is the latest.

Ray, who, according to his lawyer, suffers from bipolar disorder and depression, was arrested by a Deputy Donnie Harrison, after an anonymous caller called 911 about a man in the street pointing his shotgun at passing cars.

According to CBS WNCN, after wrestling the shotgun from the 62-year-old, Ray pulled out a handgun and

fired a shot … during the altercation. The round did not strike anyone.

He actually fired his weapon at an officer, everyone. By any measure, this fits the very definition of a life-threatening situation for a law enforcer.

What happened next? How did Harrison respond?

In his own words, Harrison’s first instinct was to de-escalate the situation:

“As a deputy, you don’t ever know what to expect when you’re approaching something like that, so your training kicks in,” Harrison told CBS. “And of course when the gun came up, it was automatic to him to get that gun away from him, and he did exactly what he was supposed to.”

His reaction was “automatic”, the Deputy said.

We are told, time and time again, that police officers who shoot and kill Black suspects did so under extreme threat of death. We are told that they were afraid, frantically feared for their life.

The officers in Baton Rouge, “under threat of death”, yelled “He’s got a gun!”, despite the fact that Sterling never pointed his firearm at the officers, and despite the fact that he never took it out his pocket, or reached for it.

The officer in Falcon Heights, “under threat of death”, mistook Castille reaching for his identification card for grabbing his registered gun.

These black men, who never fired a single shot, are dead. Meanwhile, Walter Bruce Ray, who “point[ed] a shotgun at passing cars” and “fired his handgun” at an officer of the law survived, walked away unscathed, to see another day and, hopefully, get the medical attention he so desperately needs.

And if you think Harrison reacted in this manner because the suspect was “mentally ill” (which he didn’t know at the time) and any officer would approach a Black mentally-ill suspect with the same style of caution, read this.

Lets be clear.

Do I think Walter Bruce Ray deserved to die? No. The elder man needs and deserves help, clearly.

What I can’t seem to understand, what absolutely hurts me, is why so many white people — the same folks who, in all probability, will defend the approach of Deputy Harrison towards Mr. Ray — are convinced that Black suspects who posed no threat to officers — Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Reykia Boyd, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and so many others — deserved their fate.


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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