OK, I know what you’re thinking…cats hate violin music–cat gut strings and all. But when Elijah McClain serenaded them with music, these shelter cats not only loved the music but looked forward to these musical interludes. They’ll no longer get them because McClain was murdered by police.
McClain was a sweet law-abiding massage therapist who played violin for shelter kittens on his lunch break in his hometown of Aurora, Colorado, because he thought the animals were lonely. Colorado Music described McClain as a young man who was “quirky, a pacifist, a vegetarian, enjoyed running, and known to put a smile on everyone’s face.” And he was black.
According to The Cut, McClain’s sister says he sometimes wore a ski/runner’s mask because he was anemic and would often get cold. One night last August, he was walking home from the convenience store with his mask on when the police approached him, responding to a call about “a suspicious man” in the area. What ensued was “a struggle” according to police, which was only partially caught on body camz, as all of the officers’ body cameras allegedly fell off during the incident. Here’s what McClain told officers:
McClain was put into a carotid hold, a controversial restraint technique banned in some cities for its potential danger, and was also given a shot of ketamine by paramedics. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died there three days later, after having been declared brain dead.
After the body camera footage was released, according to the Sentinel, District Attorney Dave Young sent a letter to Aurora police chief Nick Metz stating, “Based on the investigation presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Therefore, no state criminal charges will be filed as a result of this incident.”
The officers were cleared of all wrongdoing.
However, the public outcry over the case has generated a tsunami of calls for accountability. More than 2.2 million people have signed a Change.org petition calling for a more in-depth investigation into McClain’s death.
On June 9, City Manager Jim Twombly agreed to an independent investigation of McClain’s death. But even that investigation has hit snags, as the initial attorney commissioned to lead the investigation was a former police officer who specialized in defending police departments in liability cases.
“Unfortunately, an attorney with a long career in law enforcement that specializes in defending municipal police departments from liability claims doesn’t qualify, in our minds, as a neutral review,” the Aurora city council said in a statement.
I’m embarrassed to admit I’m hardly woke when it comes to the plight of Blacks in America. I’ve always considered myself an open-minded progressive, but I have no clue what Blacks endure regularly at the hands of police. Previously, whenever I read about a Black being mistreated or killed by police, I assumed it was during/after s/he’d been observed engaging in serious illegal activiy or was armed and dangerous, posing a risk to the police. Amber Ruffin’s gripping account of the indignaties she’s suffered and the fear for her life during police encounters despite never having engaged in felonious behavior woke me up to their plight.
The BLM protests opened my eyes to the scope of the problem and how often police use brute force when dealing with Blacks, sometimes with fatal consequences. Even if the victims had criminal records and were caught engaging in criminal behavior, they deserved their day in court. Police don’t have the authority to act like vigilanties.
Even if policies are implemented to combat the problem, it is too little too late for Elijah McClain. And if you don’t believe me, ask the shelter kittens.