Nationwide and in Miami, outrage over police violence against African-Americans has reached a boiling point, fueled by the lack of indictments in the Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice cases.
So it's beyond baffling why the North Miami Beach Police Department not only used photos of local black men for a recent target practice session, but that their chief also quickly defended the practice.
The story, which comes from NBC 6, unraveled only because the sister of one of the men whose photos were used in the target practice happened to go to the same shooting range as the NMB officers.
Sgt. Valerie Deant, who serves in the Florida National Guard, had gone to a Medley shooting range for her monthly military training. That's when she spotted a sheet of mug shots -- all of black men -- riddled with bullets. She quickly learned it had been left by NMBPD snipers who had recently used the same range.
Worst of all, one of the men pictured was Deant's brother. The mug shot was from 15 years ago, when he'd been arrested in connection with a deadly drag race.
"I was like, 'Why is my brother being used for target practice?'" Deant asked the station.
Great question. Did NMBPD's chief quickly apologize? Not exactly.
Chief J. Scott Dennis says blasting guns at mug shots of local residents is totally cool in his department.
"Our policies were not violated," Dennis told NBC 6. "There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this."
Activists quickly blasted that response. Here's a statement from the Miami Committee on State Violence, a group that has helped organize recent anti-brutality marches:
The Miami Committee on State Violence is outraged and disgusted at the blatant racist action of the North Miami Beach police officers using the pictures of Black men as shooting range target practice. We see this act as a symptom of a larger systemic issue that devalues Black lives everyday through the lack of economic opportunity and various institutions, including Law Enforcement. The fact that these officers won't be disciplined and the NMB Police Chief, J. Scott Dennis, says that these acts show no implication of racism speaks to how engrained is the idea that Black lives are not worth what other lives are in our society. Nor have they ever been in the history of this country under our current economic system. It is blatant, unapologetic acts like this one that fuel this Black Lives Matter movement which continues to have young, Black leaders from across the country organize for social and economic justice in their communities.
But the department seems to be doubling down in its defense. Here's what the force just tweeted:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
— N. Miami Bch Police (@myNMBPolice) January 16, 2015
Great game plan, NMBPD. Attack the reporters who broke the story, and then hide behind the bogus #alllivesmatter hashtag.