I haven’t written in a while. I decided to take some “me” time, focus on real life and recharge my batteries after a volatile political season. If you have followed the page, you know that I often write from the perspective of Cletus T. Cousinhumper, and over-the-top parody/troll that often chimes in on gun control and other hot-button social issues.
Last weekend, I found out what happens when worlds collide.
Zach and a couple friends were hanging outside a popular diner after the bars closed when a young woman pulled up in her car. They were waiting for a cab to take them home, and jokingly asked the woman to give them a lift. The woman felt “disrespected” by them and went inside to find the Isiah Smith, her boyfriend’s nephew and a couple of his friends sitting there. Zach and his friends even apologized to the woman for the unintentional slight. Smith had an unregistered, unlicensed 9mm handgun on him. He walked outside, confronted Zach’s crew, screamed “I’M FROM THE HOOD!” and then pointed the handgun directly at the head of one of Zach’s friends.
Here is a picture of Zach – The leading tackler on his college football team for the three years that he started. Zach is #4:
Here is a picture of the shooter:
Who do you think would win in a fight?
Zach is one of the most protective, caring people on the planet so when he sees his friend with a loaded gun pointed at his head – he springs into action and punches the shooter, knocking him down. Zach realizes that things have escalated quickly, and he and his friends take off running. Isiah Smith shoots Zach in the back, hitting and killing him.
Are we up to speed? Good. Now, the outrage.
I spent last night up at Slippery Rock at a bar that my band Walk of Shame considers its second home – The Ginger Hill Tavern. We donated our time and our tips along with the bartenders and servers to help raise over $2,000 to cover Zach’s funeral expenses. (For that story, check out WPXI’s coverage and video here.)
The timing has caused a lot of people to compare it to the Trayvon Martin case. If you want to make this about race (just like they did with Trayvon) that’s fine, but it is also short sighted. This is about a culture of stupidity. It is about feeling like shouting “I’M FROM THE HOOD” is some sort of badge of honor that allows a person to act like a violent thug. This is about Smith knowing he was going to look like a punk in front of his crew if he tried to square up and fight “like a man” so he took the coward’s way out – He shot an unarmed guy who was running away from him. He killed a human being who wasn’t standing his ground, or attacking him. His life wasn’t in danger, the only thing that was hurt at that point was his pride. (and the pride of the woman who instigated the murder by feeling that the rudeness of Zach and his friends should be punishable by death.)
I’m angry at a lot of things. I’m angry because up until recently, there were off-duty policemen that often worked security detail around the spot where Zach was killed. Budget cuts and other factors prevented an officer from being present, which would have likely saved Zach’s life. I’m angry because the shooter had a firearm that was not registered, nor did he have a permit to carry. Most of all, I’m just angry because Zach didn’t have to die.
Over what? Why? The shooter claimed self-defense because a guy sprinting away from him trying NOT to get shot and killed apparently posed an imminent threat to his well-being.
I’m happy that I was able to help out in some small way for Zach and the Sheridan family. When we presented Zach’s mother with an envelope with the money that was raised last night she broke down at his wake. Zach was a football player, a security guard, a bouncer, a protector. All he wanted to do was make sure that the people he cared about were safe.
It cost him his life.
Don’t make this about race, make it about illegal guns on the street. Make it about a culture that embraces this type of overreaction. Do you think these guys would have confronted Zach if they didn’t have a 9mm? I know that with the recent public outrage over the George Zimmerman acquittal, it’s easy to sensationalize this into a case of three African-Americans gunning down a white guy. Somebody call Al Sharpton for comment! Where is Jesse Jackson at?
Let’s make the conversation about how to keep the next “good guy” captain of the football team alive.
Rest in Peace, Sheridan.
–Sean Kemmerer is a freelance writer, administrator of Politics Without The Crazy Pills , and is a proud member of #RockNation who doesn’t care about long hair.