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The Lynching of Joe McKnight

This one hurts. The other ones were agonizing, yet this one seems to leave a particularly repulsive taste in the mouth. Yesterday, former NFL running back, Joe McKnight was shot and killed in Terrytown, Louisiana. The circumstances of this shooting are what really drive the pain deep into the heart. A white man, of whom I will not give the dignity of saying his name, shot and murdered McKnight for cutting him off. The man was quoted as saying “I told you don’t you fuck with me” to McKnight, before shooting him several times. One would think that this is an open and shut case for the police, but that’s where the kicker comes in. The man in question was released without being charged. Let’s repeat that, the man who freely admits to killing someone out of blind rage, has been freely released from police custody.


The implications of this go far beyond any police killing. Systemically, the acquittal of police officers who kill black people is disgusting, but not surprising. They’re a direct branch that stems from the dark tree of white supremacy. But this; this was a civilian killing another civilian. McKnight did nothing to harm this man, and yet now he lies dead and the man who killed him roams free. McKnight was lynched, there’s no denying that, yet the part that is truly confounding, is the complacency of the police. They don’t even seem to bat an eye that a man was gunned down for doing something that everyone who has ever driven a vehicle has done. It’s not even like incidents like this are new to Louisiana. This past April, former Saints player Will Smith was shot in and killed in a similar incident, where a man shot and killed him in a fit of road rage. The man in question was subsequently arrested and charged with killing him, so what’s the difference? Well the man who killed Smith was a black man; the man who killed McKnight was not.

What’s even more of a frightening prospect, is that this could possibly be the beginning of a terrifying and dangerous trend. Since November, multiple hate crimes reports have been documented across the country, all of which correlated with the election of Donald Trump. These incidents, as we speak, are continuing to happen to Muslims, LGBTQ persons, and racial minorities, all for the sake of hate and ignorance. Now it seems that these incidents have now transitioned into murder which, if let unchecked, will see the unraveling of human society as we now know it.

As the days go on and we learn more about the perpetrator, the public opinion on events, such as these, will continue to shift and split. Some will see this as white supremacy attempting to make the most of its last breath, others will see it as just humans being simple savages. The latter of those opinions doesn’t acknowledge the key point of the former, which is that white supremacy is the underlying cause of many of these incidents. This is made evident by the overtly casual nature of the murder and the utter lack of urgency by Terrytown police.

Despite the plainly racist nature of this crime, this article at this point feels almost incomplete. There seems to be so many questions unanswered and so many feelings that can’t be interpreted or comprehended, that to give a full justice on how deep white supremacy has now inserted itself after the election of an openly racist president. Above all  else, I ask that everyone stay safe and vigilant in these trying times. Don’t allow the powers that be to take your life.

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