Define ‘bad dude’: A protester’s message in Charlotte about a police shooting in Tulsa

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Define ‘bad dude’: A protester’s message in Charlotte about a police shooting in Tulsa

Raven Solomon, protesting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Raven Solomon, protesting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Image: Mashable/colin daileda

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — Raven Solomon was marching against police brutality here on Thursday, but the words on her sign came from Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Both cities have seen local shootings by police gain nationwide attention in the past week. 

In Charlotte, officer Brentley Vinson fatally shot a black man named Keith Scott on Tuesday. Protests have followed ever since,  and on Wednesday a demonstrator was shot and later died. Charlotte residents have demanded the release of videos surrounding both shootings. 

In Tulsa, Officer Betty Shelby was charged with manslaughter on Thursday after she fatally shot a black man named Terence Crutcher on Sept. 16 as he stood alongside his vehicle. 

Video of the shooting shows Crutcher walking back to his vehicle with his hands up as several officers follow him, weapons drawn. That part of the video has disturbed many, but Solomon’s message comes from words spoken by an officer in a helicopter moments before Crutcher was fatally shot. 

In the video, two officers are talking about the scene below. 

“He’s got his hands up there for her now,” one of the officers says of Crutcher. 

Then another officer speculates that Shelby has pulled out her Taser before he says, “that looks like a bad dude, too.”

Moments later, Shelby fired a single shot. 

“My question has always been, ‘what characteristics are visible in the air that would bring one to the conclusion that one is a bad dude?'” Solomon said. “There weren’t any other characteristics other than the color of his skin that could bring one to that conclusion. And I think that’s ignorant.”

The officer’s words also stunned Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany. 

“You all want to know who that big bad dude was?” she asked at a press conference following the shooting. “That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude — that’s who he was.”

“I want for everyone to know that that big bad dude,” Tiffany Crutcher continued, “his life mattered. His life matters.”

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