25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops

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One of the most poignant responses to emerge from Wednesday’s grand jury decision to not indict a police officer in Eric Garner’s death was Tweeted out by Ijeoma Oluo, a writer, marketing manager, and mother of two young boys. “We can be shot in the street. We can be choked to death on camera. This is all legal,” she Tweeted. “It is open season on black folks.”

I’m a black mom trying to navigate this world and to figure out how to raise my kids in what can be a very hostile environment,” she told Intelligencer. The series of more than two dozen messages was meant to highlight the absurdity of critics who say black people are safe if they just “don’t do” things that make them look suspicious, Oluo says. She was particularly struck by how many of the men involved in these incidents were teenagers, like her older son. But even more difficult, she says, is talking about these incidents with her younger child. “He’s already worried about bad guys like every other 7-year-old,” Oluo says. “I don’t want him worried about the cops.”

Below are Oluo’s Tweets, linked to the incidents they mention:

Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddies and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her. Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you. I’m done for today. My heart can’t handle any more.