Via Ta-Nehisi Coates, on Saturday a Brooklyn man named Shem Walker walked out of his mother’s house to smoke a cigarette on his front steps. He found a non-responsive stranger on his stoop, listening to music through earphones. Walker instructed the man to move along. The man didn’t. Walker told him again to move along, and then reportedly started hitting the loiterer.  The man, an undercover cop, shot Walker dead.

It’s unclear exactly what happened. But it’s impossible that the cop didn’t know he was on someone else’s stoop. Ta-Nehisi centers his comments on what the etiquette is for moving a stranger off your stoop or porch or car. More directly, though, everyone knows — at least everyone who’s ever lived in a city knows — that if you’re resting for a moment or tying your shoe or whatever on another person’s stoop, any resident of the house or building the stoop leads to has the right to order you to move. There’s no ambiguity. I suppose it’s possible that a really zoned-out cop could have managed to miss Walker emerging from the house, but that’s a) implausible and b) rendered irrelevant when the cop sees Walker occupying the higher ground. 

Justice for Shem Walker.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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