“The cops around here aren’t that crazy!” “They know black folks will rise up, so they will know better than to try it!” “I mean, we’re not really in the big city like that, it’s usually calm around here so it’s not very likely to happen.” “Times have changed. Not everybody is going to be like that. Especially around here, it’s pretty tolerant around here.”
Those quotes are just few of many phrases used by both black and white people across the nation. These are the phrases often used by those who actually feel the racial tension in America, but have never seen it up, close and personal, or have never seen it come to a head. It’s the feeling of an odd sort of safety. Being cautious because they are aware of what goes on in the world, but are still relaxed enough from being within their comfortable setting. Therefore, the people who use these phrases usually don’t see it coming. The type of people who live in my hometown of Troy, AL.
A sudden shock to not only the victim and his family, but in multiple ways a shock to the people of Troy, AL. A shock that things went that far, although the police of the area were known for harassment. A complete shock when the story started catching on with the mainstream media when Rev. Al Sharpton shared images of the victim. Now, it seems like most of the nation will know the name Ulysses Wilkerson.
Ulysess Wilkerson is a 17-year old boy who was beaten by the Troy, AL police department on the night before Christmas Eve at 11:52 PM. Photos of his swollen face gathered both sympathy and outrage from the locals soon as they were posted by his mother, Angela Williams. The posts soon went viral.
According to Troy Police Department, Wilkerson was apprehended after dropping a gun, and subdued him, saying that they used “reasonable and necessary force” after he reached for his waistband, apparently for the gun that he dropped earlier in the chase. As what is starting to sound unfortunately typical in these cases, it was reported that none of the officers, except for one, had body cams, and the one officer who was wearing a body cam did not have it turned on. The unfortunate encounter lead to Wilkerson having a broken jaw, cracked eye socket, swollen face and traumatic brain damage. The damage Wilkerson sustained from the beating he sustained while he was handcuffed were so severe that the teen had to be transported to the University of Alabama- Birmingham hospital. Although there were reports that the misdemeanor obstruction and resisting arrest charges were dropped after the incident, Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson has yet to be clear about whether or not the teen will still face these charges.
While this has been the biggest shock to the city during the holidays, it’s far from the first time racial tension has been at a boiling point during 2017. Many of the locals of Pike County, AL area have their own stories of “3rd shift” in Troy, mostly African American, and most of their stories containing common themes of harassment, profiling and tension between locals that can most times be cut with a knife. Just a few months ago, a fraternity at Troy University came under fire for uploading a racially insensitive video just before Halloween, causing the local student NAACP chapter to take notice. When the NAACP gave a silent, peaceful protest during that week’s football game. The silent protest made by the African American students was met back with random people, either fellow students or locals, yelling at them to “go home niggers!” and “NOBODY WANT’S YOU IN OUR COUNTRY!”, making the subtle racial tension that was often ignored on campus turn into something that nearly the whole campus had to address, especially since Troy University is known as “Alabama’s international university.” Just an hour away from Troy, the people of Dothan, AL focused on confronting alleged racial discrimination, police discrimination and corruption with their own rallies. While the people of the area want to badly be surprised that something like this has happened to a young teenager, the unfortunate truth is that racial tensions have been brewing in our quiet area for some time now, and it is starting to come to a head.
Not only are locals fighting for justice and demanding answers, but they are on stage as well. With the likes of BET and CNN reporting on the incident, you know it’s a matter of time that not only will the lives of the family change forever, but the whole town of Troy, AL will be on watch. With Ben Crump, who represents Trayvon Martin’s family, taking on the case, the nation will be watching. The nation will be reading the posts made by his father, Ulysses Wilkerson Jr., and mother. While the people are rallying, desperately demanding answers, justice and closure, the nation will be watching and anxiously waiting for the Troy, AL PD’s response.
Just seeing everything unfold, watching the story unfold as more and more people share the story on social media on top of the initial shock and leftover tension from earlier instances in the area, it’s a complete shock to most people of Troy, AL. That is why it is important to know that it does happen, and can very well happen in your city. It’s important for African American people to be prepared to come together in the event of injustice in their city. It’s important for all people to not lose sight of what’s important, seeking answers from Troy PD, holding them accountable, and last but not least, praying for a full recovery for young Wilkerson.
In order for not only the people of Troy, AL, but people across the nation to lead to change, we must all be willing to fight for the real answers and justice for those who are done wrong, like the 17 year Ulysses Wilkerson.