By Syeda Khan
Two men from Oklahoma have been charged for the deadly shooting spree targeting random African American people along the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma just last week. According to ABCnews.com, two Caucasian men have confessed to this shooting spree; Jake England, who is 19 years old has confessed to shooting three people and Alvin Watts has confessed to shooting two people. This shooting spree cost three people their lives and at least two or more individuals to be seriously injured.
All of the victims that were injured or killed were African American. However, Watts and England have not yet been charged with any hate crimes. The confession came out as Tulsa police department was trying to piece together information and eventually lead to the arrest of the two men on early Sunday morning. Police also found a weapon that was believed to be used in the shootings, however, it is still not yet determined whether or not the weapon was used.
The two men were charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intention to kill, and one count of possessing a fire arm in the commission of a felony. The judge ordered the two men to be held at $9.16 million dollars each.
Police are trying to investigate whether or not this incidence was based on a hate crime; this idea was instigated when a racially charged post on England’s Facebook page was found. This shooting spree occurred two years to the day when two black men had shot and killed England’s father; on England’s Facebook page, it made mention of his father’s death, as well the recent death of his girlfriend Sheran Hart Wilde.
From what I can tell after reading numerous articles and watching the news, this shooting is revenge-driven. The initial killing two years ago seem to have instigated the backlash this year. However, because all the victims were not related in any way, it seems as though England and Watts simply targeted innocent civilians of the same race as the murderer’s of his father.
I understand England’s pain, really I do. I can’t even imagine losing my father in such a horrific way, but getting revenge did not bring England’s father back. In killing innocent African Americans, England ensured that others would feel the same sense of loss that he felt. The innocent family members of those killed will forever have to live with the loss that England and Watts created. What makes them any better than the murderers who took the life of England’s father?
Now let me draw a distinction between justice and revenge. What England did was purely revenge, unfairly lashing out on people who were not even related to his father’s murder. In his mind, justice has been served. But in reality, it wasn’t. Justice is often blurred with the idea of revenge, when in truth, they’re complete opposites. How is it “justice” when you act just as ruthlessly as the other person? How is it “justice” when innocent people are affected?
This idea doesn’t just limit itself to this shooting or to criminal offenses. As students, we must have faced at least one situation where we were tempted to avenge someone under the label of justice. Here’s some advice: don’t. Be the bigger person. Forgive them and allow them to learn their lesson in a constructive manner. If you don’t, well then, you’re no better than they are.