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Race and Gender issues in the Amber Guyger Shooting

Updated on October 25, 2019
wpcooper profile image

Lives in California's Central Valley and is interested in social issues.

Summary

This is not an article about the Amber Guyger case, but more about the decisions and the outcome of the trial. Nor is this article about the trial itself, but more about the what the sentence says about our society.

Some are looking at the issue of police violence. Others are looking at the racial elements because the perpetrator was white and the victim was black.

What I choose to focus on mainly is a fact that doesn't seem to be getting much attention and that is the issue of gender.

The Amber Guyger police shooting gained national attention

Introduction

On the evening of September 6, 2018, things were fairly normal in the city of Dallas, Texas. As the late summer day was coming to an end, streetlights began to penetrate the evening air. Traffic on the 35 slowed to a rush hour pace and then slipped back. Evening basketball games came to a halt as the darkness moved in. Children not already asleep were preparing for bed.

A young woman with dirty blonde hair, wearing a dark uniform, carried her city police equipment with her from the car park. Everything seemed normal. She giggled a little and looked at her phone. She moved her bag from one arm to the other and felt for her pockets. She looked at her phone again, and smiled.

What happened in the next few moments on this late evening, in early September would soon make international headlines.

Sirens and curious passersby would stop in front of the South Side Flats apartments at 1210 Lamar Street, in the 9th largest city in the United States.

In a city where issues such as police violence and racial tensions were slumbering monsters, a wake-up-call, was about to be made.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
BothamGuyger in uniform
Botham
Botham
Guyger in uniform
Guyger in uniform

Some Implications Concerning Race

It really wasn't that many years ago that a man of color could be taken by an angry mob and lynched. In 1893, in nearby Paris, 17 year old Henry Smith was attacked by a mob of 5,000 people. He was accused of assaulting a three year old girl and confessed after being beaten and tortured. The details are too graphic to mention here.

The lynching reference represents how many of today's perceptions view the shootings of black men by white police officers. That is not to say that African Americans are the only ones who are killed in police shootings. Furthermore, most police shootings are actually justified.

However, there is the perception that certain members of the population are treated unfairly by those in authority and often the consequences are fatal. In many instances, persons only had contact with the police because it was perceived that they were a threat. Someone from the public has reported a suspicious person or even a police officer on patrol, has initiated contact with the individual.

Statistics demonstrate that being a member of a minority group - particularly an African-American male -are unjustifiably singled out. Driving While Black (DWB), profiling in stores and restaurants, and even being prohibited from entering your own apartment complex, are examples of situations that represent racial disparity.

Certainly, everyone has been unfairly treated, or even victimized in public. And depending upon the social environment, everyone has an opportunity to be ostracized.

But because this case involved a white police officer and a black victim, many people have played the race card and seen this as just another man dying because of the color of his skin. Would Guyger reacted differently to a white man, or someone that looked like the fellow officer she was having an affair with? Or a woman for that matter (we'll talk about this more later)?

They found Guyger guilty. Good. Stop murdering us.

-Bree Newsome Bass

I don't think Amber Guyger should have been convicted of murder. Her fatal shooting of the black man was an accident. She thought he was in her apartment. Amber Guyger should have been convicted of manslaughter instead of murder.

-David Kashfi

Damnnnnnnnn they found Amber Guyger guilty of murder????? I'm shocked!!!!! I just knew they were about to let her walk but justice was served!!!

-I'M HER FAVORITE

— all the above were taken from Twitter
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A happy Guyger in a ceremonyA woman holds a protest sign
A happy Guyger in a ceremony
A happy Guyger in a ceremony
A woman holds a protest sign
A woman holds a protest sign

What hasn't been said about this case concerning gender

One of the issues I have not heard anyone speak about, is the fact that this was the killing of a man, committed by a woman. And of course, the penalty issued was ten years in prison.

A news article quotes Samuel R. Sommers from Tufts as saying "Defendants charged with killing white people, particularly women, are more likely to be sentenced to death." The implication here is of course, the race/gender of the victim. White females tend to seem the most protected if the death penalty is seen as the ultimate punishment (of course there are arguments that it is not).

Sommers also says, "Death penalty sentencing disparities are most extreme when black men are accused of raping and murdering white women."

And the fact that I always have to temper what I'm about to say with a cautionary note, supports what I am about to write: females are provided more opportunities for protection than are men. In addition, men who are victimized by women in any way, are not provided the opportunity to fairly defend themselves. This could be physically or when it comes to speaking out about unfair treatment on a college campus.

Violence against men

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male victims of domestic violence are ignoredthis is a worldwide problem
male victims of domestic violence are ignored
male victims of domestic violence are ignored
this is a worldwide problem
this is a worldwide problem

females are provided more opportunities for protection than are men. In addition, men who are victimized by women in any way, are not provided the opportunity to fairly defend themselves.

— - from the author

Men Are Victims of Gender Bias as Well

Robert Foster - an American politician - was criticized recently for refusing to be alone with a female reporter, Larrison Campbell. Foster remarked that he didn't want to be alone with Campbell because he was aware "..that something was - promiscuous going on or anything like that." Basically, it sounds to me as if Foster is saying that he doesn't want to be falsely accused. Campbell retorts that his perspective is "We thought it was a pretty sexist request..."

The double standard there is obvious to me. If a female were going into an interview where there was going to be man speaking with her, she can ask for another woman to be present, and they would oblige. Female patients are sometimes not permitted to be alone with male doctors.

In this situation, a woman walked into an apartment that was not her own. Granted, it may have been a legitimate mistake. She was tired and distracted from her sexually inappropriate behavior with her married, male colleague. But immediately, she pulled out a weapon, saw it was a man, and without hesitation, or offering a verbal warning, shot him.

Our society recognizes Violence Against Women - which it should, but does not hold a similar sanctuary for men. Most communities have numerous battered women shelters but not such places for their male counterparts. In media, politics, and the work environment, the laws protecting gender discrimination are not equally applied.

An issue that is continuous ignored

Is (female) violence against men an issue that needs to be discussed?

See results

Some observations

When Guyger began to make appearances in the media and began her promenades to the courtroom, she drastically changed her appearance.

In certain instances she became more businesslike, dawning professional attire and having her hair styled in a way that made her physical appearance more distinct.

In other instances, she seemed to change the hue of her hair slightly, seemingly more ethnic. There were a couple of times when she even seemed to be trying to emulate Mariah Carey - an African American pop star.

These seemed to be ploys that were attempts to manipulate her perception in the eyes of the public and media. They were tactics that sought to win her favoritism with potential jurors and make her seem more sympathetic in the court of public opinion.

Amber Guyger seemingly more ethnic
Amber Guyger seemingly more ethnic

“Damn I was at this area with 5 different black officers !!!” Rivera texted Guyger on March 9, 2018. “Not racist but damn.”

Guyger echoed Rivera and added: “Not racist but just have a different way of working and it shows.”

— - from an exchange betwee Guyger and her partner, officer Rivera
Holding an imaginary gun
Holding an imaginary gun

Violence against men in other respects

According to helpguide.org, "figures suggest that as many as one in three domestic violence victims may be male." Men are more reluctant than women to report abuse because of embarrassment, retaliation and the perception that they will not be believed the way a woman will.

In addition to physical violence in the domestic environment, male partners may experience:

  • Verbal abuse or humiliation in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media.
  • Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
  • Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see.
  • Make false accusations against you or find other forms of isolation.
  • Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
  • Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.

Men stay in these relationships for basically the same reasons which are attributed to female victims: shame, religious beliefs, they are dependent upon their partner, or even that they are in denial.

While the situations in intimate partner violence are similar with regard to gender, awareness, prevention and support are not.

Women come out the victors in these situations.

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The apartment complex where it happenedWalking to the court
The apartment complex where it happened
The apartment complex where it happened
Walking to the court
Walking to the court

What if the roles had been reversed

Well, lets just suppose the situations were reversed. And in fact, on October 13, 2019, something like this happened.

Atatiana Jefferson was shot by a white police officer in her home, and he was immediately charged with murder. The situations were slightly different, in the latter case, the officer didn't "accidentally" walk into the wrong apartment.

But let's say that did happen, and a man walks into an apartment belonging to a woman. An apartment or house that he doesn't live in. Right off the bat there would be the speculation that this was not done without intent.

And then for a man to say he was afraid, because he saw a woman coming at him - when he was in her place? I will stop right there.

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A sentence with an embraceIn memory of...
A sentence with an embrace
A sentence with an embrace
In memory of...
In memory of...

Conclusion: Some words on the Texas Department of Corrections etc.

Texas is notorious for its prison system. There are 49 state prisons, in the six regions in the Texas Department of Corrections. In addition, there are several private prisons, and county jails where inmates are housed.

What is significant about the justice system in the State of Texas, is frequency with which the death penalty is actually imposed. So far, 565 people have been put to death in the state of Texas, since 1982.

The website, Texas Death Penalty Facts, writes: "In 2018, the State of Texas put 13 people to death, accounting for more than half of the 25 U.S. executions last year and that Texas is responsible for 7 of the 17 executions nationwide to date in 2019.

On average, at least one person a month is put to death in Texas. The state punishes more people in one year than the state of California since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. Since then, California has completed 13 executions.

Texas also allows the jury to determine the sentence of the guilty party.

Did Amber Guyger's race have anything to do with her being spared? Was it her gender? Her former tenure as a police officer? Her blonde locks?

Or was the crime not serious enough to warrant an execution?

Should Amber Guyger been given a harsher sentence?

See results

I thought it was my apartment....

I'm f****ed!

I thought it was my apartment

Hey bud

I thought it was my apartment

I'm f***ed!

I thought it was my apartment

I t hought it was my apartment..... (again and again)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Finn

Comments

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    • wpcooper profile imageAUTHOR

      Finn 

      7 months ago from Cheyenne

      well said gentle reader

    • profile image

      Vlad Von Vied 

      7 months ago

      Women cry for EQUALITY until it's punishment time, then they are fragile and innocent. Equal crime, equal time.

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