Before there was Trayvon Martin, Jordan Russell Davis, Eric Gardener, Mike Brown, and the list, unfortunately, goes on and on there was Danroy "D.J" Henry. Who's D.J Henry and why am I bringing him up? Back in 2010 when I was a freshman in college and there was a major story about a Massachusetts college kid from Easton who was shot by the police. Police shooting people isn't new, I mean we've all seen Cops, we know sometimes cops have to pull out their guns to defend themselves and civilians but this story was different. From the news reports, he was shot for driving away from a fight that he helped stop. Wait, shall I rewind? I shall. So Henry was out with his some of his friends at a restaurant. A brawl broke out and he, being good samaritan as his friends described him to be tried to break up the fight. The Mount Pleasent Police were called during the fight while Henry and his friends got into his car to drive away. When officers pulled up to the scene, an officer from the Mount Pleasent Police Department named Aaron Hess jumped on top of Henry's car as Henry was driving off and shot him multiple times, ultimately ending his life. As more information was pouring out during the week from eyewitnesses we learned that Aaron Hess signaling it was okay for Henry to leave, but as soon as Henry was pulling off, Aaron Hess and other officers from different police departments changed their minds, and Hess decided to jump on the car hood, pull the trigger, and riddled Henry's body with bullets. Hess was so heartless that he cuffed Henry's dead body to his car as if a dead body can run off at a crime scene. Later that year, Aaron Hess was bestowed officer of the year by the police union. What a grotesque gesture to do, the department has the right to acknowledge anyone with an award BUT anyone with sensibility and sensitivity would have held off the breakroom party after such grievance as an unwarranted murder by the cop you want to reward with an award.
When I heard the about the complete story the impression I was left with was he was beloved and unjustly shot. I'm not dense nor was I ever dense, I'm Black I know how the American justice system treats Black folks in the past but I couldn't believe "it" (an unjust murder) could happen in 2010. I just couldn't grasp maliciousness happening here, not in Massachusetts (at the time of the story I thought D.J. Henry was murdered in Massachusetts. He was actually murdered in Mount Pleasent, New York). Massachusetts isn't Florida. It isn't some hick state full of inbred racists. Massachusetts is a liberal state, we pretty much accept everyone, stuff like this doesn't happen here. I was wrong, in the words of Paul Mooney, "Illusion of inclusion." Now I have NEVER been directly called a nigger to my face, but the first time I learned about it was from a Portuguese kid who said it out of anger . . . I was in the fourth grade. The first time I was outright undeniably targeted out of prejudice was in the sixth grade when I typed a thorough paper on Hip Hop and it was rejected before analyzation because no way could a young pickaninny write a 28 page paper. The first time I experienced a racial attack based on my dark skin color was in 2012 when I was walking down Commonwealth Ave in Allston when these three Eminem rejects started making primate noises and whistling at me (I and them were the only ones on the sidewalk. I heard every word they said) but the leader of the racist attack had the NERVE to actually try to ask me out.
I say all this to say, racism doesn't exclude Massachusetts it is part of the 50 states. It was also part of the original 13 colonies. There's a well-known field trip that many elementary age children go to called Plimoth Plantation (I never been), it's a reenactment site where once you step foot in there you go back to the 1700s, the era of hostile take over Pilgrims and friendly Natives. The essence of the place is to give a kid-friendly historical lesson of how things used to be, of course skipping over slavery, genocide, white supremacy YET the place is called a plantation. So you're probably like okay VIE, I get it, racist stuff happens and sometimes cops shoot people by accident. Okay, how do you explain shooting a person by accident YET accepting no malintent or wrongdoing that results in a six million dollar settlement? Yeah, that's where I was going with it, Henry's family was rewarded with six million dollars from the Mount Pleasent Police Department yet they will not have to admit the intent to murder or even acknowledge that it was them that caused the murder. In what other time in history have you ever heard of someone being rewarded majorly for something that they didn't earn by a supposed innocent party? Doesn't happen, but for D.J. Henry's family it did.
I brought up this story because yesterday on the news they were giving an update on D.J. Henry's murder. Currently the family is waiting to get a judge's approval of the six million dollar settlement from the Mount Pleasent Police Department to continue on their lives yet understand no amount of money can replace the life of a family member, friend, classmate, plainly a human being.
Be Entertained. Be Enlightened. Be Loved. ✌