CW: Murder, suicide, racism, transphobia
On July 19th Sam Dubose was shot to death inside his car in Cincinnati, OH by University of Cincinnati ex-officer Ray Tensing. Unlike many of the other illegal deaths of black people at the hands of police which have surfaced over the past few years, Tensing was fired from the force and indicted almost immediately, and as of 10am this morning, arraigned on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. I sat glued to the FOX 19 local streaming news, watching him file into the court room in a striped black and grey V-neck uniform, and stand before the judge and enter a plea of “Not guilty” — a plea entered in spite of the fact that he had turned himself in, in spite of the now viral body cam footage of the shooting. His attorney spoke of his client’s background, casually mentioning he was a graduate of Colerain High school. I stopped the footage and backed it up to make sure I’d heard it properly, and, in fact, Tensing and I graduated from the same school — only four years apart.
I grew up in Cincinnati and spent nearly 25 years there. I know it to be a place brimming with racial inequality, homophobia, and transphobia. An assault suffered by an ex of mine was the impetus which drove me to move to Maine a few years back, and while much time and space separates me from my hometown, my heart bleeds now for what is happening in what feels like my own back yard.
I felt just as lost and hopeless as when Leelah Alcorn’s suicide was all over the news last December. She lived a mere 20 minute drive away from my father’s front door. I felt just as disgusted when I learned of the murder of Bri Golec, the young trans woman who was killed by her own father in Akron back in February. And last August when John Crawford III was shot to death by police in a Wal-Mart parking lot by police for carrying a toy gun. And back in 2001, the year police killed Timothy Thomas and tipped off the “riots” in downtown Cincinnati that would in turn inspire a boycott from several black entertainers, and, in my mind anyhow, mirrored what I think of as the sister protests in Ferguson following Michael Brown’s death.
What is it about Ohio? I can’t help but connect the dots.
Whenever I travel back to my hometown, I am reminded all at once that it was never my home. I love many people there. I am forever and indelibly shaped by everything that happened to me while I lived there. But I know I can never really call it home.
Like the rest of the country and perhaps the world, I am watching with keen eyes to see what will taken place in Cincinnati once Ray Tensing is either convicted or acquitted. A woman holding a photo of Dubose (I believe his sister) shook as she told reporters that if his shooter is not brought to justice, the police will need to shoot her, too because she won’t be able to control herself. His trial is set to begin August 19th, and I hope for her sake and the rest of Cincinnati’s justice will finally be served.
Photo credit: WLWT Cincinnati