Anybody who lives in Louisiana knows about Joe McKnight.
There, he was a living legend. A king.
Yeah, he played pro football for the Chiefs and Jets. Yeah, he played college ball for the University of Southern California Trojans, but in Louisiana, he was a god. One of the best high school athletes in the history of the state, the Times-Picayune named him the Best Male Athlete of the Decade. He was that good and did it all right in the middle of Hurricane Katrina.
His home was destroyed when he was a junior in high school, he was separated from his mother during the evacuation and ended up being forced to bounce around the state. In spite of it all, he helped his team win the state championship, was the Parade National Player of the Year, and the consensus number one running back recruit in the country.
At a time when Louisiana needed a good story, Joe McKnight, just a teenager, with gifts galore, provided one — and the state never forgot it.
That he was repeatedly shot and killed in broad daylight in the middle of a Louisiana roadway Thursday has left many of my friends who personally knew Joe crushed, confused, bitter and angry.
People saw it happen. A witness said that a white man, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was the aggressor. Images of Gasser on the scene seem to show that he didn’t have a single scratch on him. It does not appear to have been self-defense. This witness even said that after Gasser first shot him, that he stood over McKnight and shot him some more. Police have said that McKnight was unarmed.
It’s hard for me to not believe that race was a factor in this killing — particularly in light of the fact that we’ve seen nearly 1,000 hateful incidents since Donald Trump was elected. All over the country, people of color are being attacked — many for the first time in their lives. Will Sims, a beloved California musician, was murdered by white men in a hate crime in California just days after Trump was elected. James Means, a sweet 15-year-old boy, was murdered the following week by a 62-year-old white man who claimed Means bumped into him at the dollar store.
While family and friends of Ronald Gasser talk about how warm and peaceful he was, I don’t wanna hear it.
He killed a man. And for the few of us who had a little peace knowing that he was in police custody, we just lost that peace when police announced that they released him from custody. Louisiana, as you may have guessed it, has a stand-your-ground law, and it looks like the state is about to give Gasser the George Zimmerman treatment.
How in the hell did they release this man without charging him? It’s ludicrous.
Do you honestly think that if Joe McKnight killed Ronald Gasser like that, that he would’ve been released without being charged? Do you think that Gasser would’ve been released had he shot a white woman or even a white man there in the middle of street?
Of course race was a factor. Race permeates every single facet of this country. This death right here is quintessential reason why we say “Black Lives Matter.” Joe McKnight’s black life doesn’t appear to have mattered much to local police.