BLACK LIVES SHOULD MATTER

Why Mississippi Police Killed a Black Man and Never Notified His Family

Police have no credibility in the black community because of cases like this

Allison Wiltz
Published in
5 min readNov 18, 2023

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A person holding a white flower | Photo by Cottonbro Studio via Pexels

In a heartbreaking turn of events, Mississippi officials engaged in a cover-up after a police cruiser ran over and killed a 37-year-old Black man, Dexter Wade. While the Mayor of Jackson called his death a tragic accident and claimed the police had "no malicious intent" in hiding his death, the coroner revealed he had his I.D., which clearly stated his home address. There is no logical reason why authorities wouldn't follow protocol and contact his next of kin, but there was a potential motive to hide that information, protecting the police officer responsible for his death. Vehicular manslaughter is a crime, and if the person was intoxicated, they could face "between five and 25 years in prison — plus fines and fees." Refusing to notify the family was a choice, one that would ultimately represent a blue wall protecting the officer responsible for Dexter Wade’s death.

A PBS NewsHour-NPR Marist poll suggested two-thirds of Black Americans do not trust police, and cases like this make it painfully obvious why. When police violate Black Americans' civil rights, they are rarely held accountable for their actions in criminal or civil court. So, it’s only natural many doubt their role as legitimate public safety officers. After police killed Dexter Wade, city officials "buried" him "in a pauper's grave without his mother's knowledge." Imagine looking for your son or daughter, filing a missing person's report, and hoping for the best, only to discover months later that the police, who were responsible for his death, failed to notify you or the public of the circumstances surrounding his death. If this isn't an example of a cover-up, then nothing is.

This story is reminiscent of a New York Times report published in 2021 about a longstanding practice of police using sickle cell anemia as a smokescreen for Black fatalities in custody. For instance, Indiana police reported that Dean Smith died of a sickle cell episode, despite him being handcuffed and gasping for air at his time of death; Jason Pierce died in a Louisiana prison with drugs in his system, but authorities…

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Allison Wiltz
Momentum

Womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola