What Happened to Korryn Gaines?

by Erica Dinero Kelley

This week, another black woman, a mother of two, met an untimely fate at the hands of law enforcement. Understandably when I heard about it, I didn’t know what to think. Initial reports said she was shot and killed in her home and her 5 year old son was also injured by gunshot. Once again, I found myself angry.

As the story developed, I saw videos she posted to her social media accounts. It was clear she was aware of systemic racism.  Like many black American citizens, she had ill feelings towards police. There was one video showing a traffic stop where she refused to leave her car, and she disclosed she had a pending lawsuit against them.  Korryn also mentioned she felt she was being targeted. In the video, she said to the cop that if he touched her, he would have to murder her. The same video shows her giving her 5 year old son clear instructions to “listen only to her and if the officer tried to touch him, to fight him”. She also handed him the camera phone and asked him to document the interaction. This is the world we (black Americans) live in, where a mother has to give her child instruction on how to possibly capture her own murder by a cop. This is the world we live in.

Her social media accounts were deactivated. Yet the police report that somehow right before her murder, she filmed the altercation while holding her son and a legally registered shot gun. The videos are said to have been deleted. Their story is that she threatened to kill them if they came in her home. This is when they shot and she returned fire, leading them to shoot back and kill her. How many times have you seen stand-offs with cops where they reasoned and negotiated with people and they come out alive? They didn’t give Korryn a chance. Who in the world gets a special home visit to serve a warrant for a failure to appear?

A dead person can’t tell their side of the story. 

Historically, we know that law enforcement will retell their side of the story and it almost always is favorable to them, and fabricated. This is expected.

What I didn’t expect was the response from the black community believing the recount from BPD; first from men then from women. I was actually shocked and disgusted. How in the world do you state as fact a story from a group of people who have everything to gain from lying? This propagated idea that Korryn was responsible for her own murder and that it could have been avoided had she complied is suddenly slipping from black tongues saying this was “different” from other instances. She was mentally ill. She put her kids in danger. So essentially, everyone subscribed to the narrative fed to them from an agency within the same state Freddie Gray lived and was killed at the hands of law enforcement. The same group of people also belongs to the same fraternal order as those who murdered Freddie Gray. These same groups, who consistently kill innocent people, get to go home to their families. All of a sudden you trust them? What the hell is wrong with you people? When did we start to side with, and not question the system? Why? It hurt me because every single time a black man is murdered by law enforcement, black women stand up in droves and support the cause to fight against the system. This time I did not see the outcry for her. I saw too many blindly honoring the words from law enforcement

Korryn was fighting against a system she knew was targeting her. She knew that she would have to die to make her point. This is how a true revolutionary thinks. We claim that we’re revolutionaries; we claim we want to fight against an unjust system but when someone actually does it, she’s ridiculed and judged. You said, “she should have complied”. These people entered her home without invitation and without a warrant (the search warrant was obtained later) and she wasn’t supposed to be scared? She wasn’t supposed to exercise her divine right and protect her children? What would you have done? We have seen what happens when you comply and surrender.

Remember Sandra Bland?

This year, 9 black women have been victims of unjustifiable homicides by the hands of law enforcement and every last one of their actions leading up to their deaths have been dissected. Why? Why do we question how a woman responds to a system who wants to see them dead and we don’t question it when a black man is murdered?

 Korryn died fighting against the system and for what she thought was right. We say when it is time to fight against an oppressive system; you have to be ready to die. She was ready and she died. Not too many of us in this day and age are ready for that kind of fight. She didn’t sound mentally ill, she didn’t sound angry.

She sounded calm and at peace with how her life was about to end…and for that, I say that sister’s name.