Jazmine Barnes’ older sister made a mistake.
Houston community activist Derric Muhammad made a mistake.
Houston police made a mistake.
And the media made a mistake.
But all of those aforementioned mistakes seem very understandable considering the circumstances surrounding the murder of Jazmine Barnes in Houston.
While thankfully Jazmine Barnes’ murder did not fall into the hate crime category, the credibility of Jazmine Barnes’ family, civil rights activists like Muhammad and Shaun King nor the police department should be questioned.
The whole ordeal just shows that human beings make mistakes, and when faced with violence one’s adrenaline can lead them to making statements that later prove false.
Furthermore, those criticizing African-American community leaders like King and Muhammad need a history lesson to remember all of the African-Americans who were falsely accused of crimes and paid for it with their lives, freedom and safety.
In Houston, an African-American man was falsely accused of brutally killing an 11-year-old boy by the name of Josue Flores in 2016.
Investigators said that the murderer stabbed Flores 20 times as he pleaded with his attacker not to kill him.
Police identified the alleged murderer as Che Calhoun based on the eyewitness testimony of one person.
The news media blasted the man’s face throughout the city.
And many in the community threatened physical harm because he allegedly murdered a child.
The police were steadfast in their belief that they had their man until surveillance video showed that the suspect was on the other side of town shopping when the murder took place.
Thankfully, the man was cleared without becoming the victim of violence himself.
But understandably, many throughout the city of Houston were mortified at the crime and many in the Hispanic community desperately wanted justice for Flores.
Another African-American man named Andre Jackson was later arrested for the murder of Flores.
The media and police felt confident again that they had finally caught Flores’ killer.
But, he too was let go and not charged with the murder of Flores.
Jackson had a jacket that matched the description of the jacket seen on a suspect in a surveillance video following the murder of Flores.
However, the district attorney later dropped the charges against Jackson too after they reported that the DNA evidence against Jackson is “at best inconclusive” and “in some ways exclude” Jackson as a suspect.
In Mississippi in 1955, a teenage Chicago resident named Emmett Till came down south to visit his relatives.
Allegedly, Till whistled at a White woman and lost his life for that “offense.”
Decades later, Till’s accuser admitted that he never whistled at her and nothing he did should have warranted the horrific punishment he endured at the hands of her family members.
The all-Black town of Rosewood, Fla. got burned to the ground because of the lies a White woman told on its residents in the 1920s.
And White supremacists burned Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla. down to the ground because of allegations made by White residents.
Therefore, history is chock full of African-Americans that not only lost their freedom because of mistakes or outright lies.
History is full with African-Americans who lost everything including their lives because of lies, false testimony and here say.
While the lies that led to the deaths of people like Till were totally nefarious, that does not mean that Jazmine Barnes’ 15-year-old sister concocted a story out of thin air just to falsify or sensationalize what happened to her little sister.
Those who have survived murder attempts have stated that when one is being shot at their mind is running a mile a minute.
They often over exaggerate or overanalyze what is going on around them.
Could the family have a seen a White man in a pickup truck look into their vehicle while stopped at a traffic light?
Could the family have seen the truck speed away after the family’s car got riddled with bullets?
But could the White man driving the pickup truck have been just a witness to the murder desperately attempting to flee the hail of bullets?
Therefore, no one should view the family in a negative light because the story took on a life of its own.
Thankfully, all of those involved corrected those mistakes before anyone else got hurt for no reason.
But those who initially said the race of the alleged shooter did not matter when police suspected a White assailant cannot now play the race card and say race is important because Jazmine’s death resulted from so-called Black-on-Black crime.
If race did not matter when the suspect was White, it should not matter now that the suspects are African-Americans.
And although King gets criticized, harassed and threatened because he speaks up and out for African-Americans, without his work the alleged killers of Jazmine Barnes might not have gotten apprehended and could have inflicted more violence on the community.
The problem with false stories like the murder of Jazmine Barnes does not solely rest at the feet of the media, law enforcement or civil rights activists like King and Muhammad.
The problem with the criminal justice system is that whenever human beings get involved with a matter, mistakes often occur because of the imperfections of human beings.
Sometimes, human beings finger the wrong suspect because they just made a mistake.
Sometimes, police have the wrong suspect.
Sometimes, the false information from the police gets shared with the media.
And therefore, the media gets the story wrong because reporters receive the wrong information from law enforcement.
That is what happened in the murder of Jazmine Barnes.
Even when witnesses and law enforcement officials have ulterior motives like in the false rape allegations against Duke University lacrosse players, the media should not take all of the blame.
True the media should check all of the sources and information thoroughly.
But when respected law enforcement officials constantly gives reporters information that they are confident about, what more can the media do but report that information?
But if a witness makes a mistake, then law enforcement might make a mistake.
Those mistakes get passed down to reporters.
Therefore, the public receives mistaken information and more mistakes might happen.
Is it very unfortunate?
But is it understandable?
It should be.