Mom Loses Son to Gun Violence & It's Our Fault She's Forced to Defend His Outfit

Victim blaming is this idea that in any given scenario, the wronged person can be asking to be wrong based on what they're wearing or doing or saying. As a rule, we don't like this idea because it takes the blame away from the person who made the choice and the action, and that's unfair to the victim. But as one mom proved as she was grieving for her son, victim blaming is an easy trap to fall into, even if you don't mean it maliciously: As Simone Thomas remembered the last time she saw her son, she kept insisting he wasn't dressed as a "hoodlum." 

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She's basically saying he wasn't asking for it, and she's right. But let's make one thing clear: No matter how that man was dressed, he did not deserve to be shot and killed by somebody else. We hate that this mom has to consider that might be the case.

Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas was on his way home from a party around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning when he was shot from a garage he was walking past. He was 20 years old. 

The man who shot him was identified as Chad Cameron Copley by police, and before Copley shot Kouren, the police got a 911 call from a man in the Copley household (so presumably from Copley himself) complaining about "hoodlums" and claiming to be part of a neighborhood watch. (That watch, for the record, doesn't seem to exist.) 

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Copley shot and killed Thomas, and though he was charged with first degree murder, Copley hasn't received a sentence yet (and in this post-Zimmerman world, we don't feel confident that he'll get one). But in either case, it doesn't erase Kouren's mother's enormous grief:

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Her sadness is palpable and it hurts our hearts. No mother should have to go through that, but more than that, no mother should have to defend what her child was wearing when he died. It shouldn't matter what clothes he had on -- Kouren has a right to wear baggy pants and a do-rag and a hoodie and not be shot. It's just that simple.

Toward the end of the clip, Simone asks if her son would have been in the same danger if he were white instead of black. Obviously, the answer is no, and that's still our problem to fix. It's on us to build a world where there's no such thing as "asking for it" -- where dangerous people can't jump to dangerous conclusions based on dangerous stereotypes. It's on us.

 

Image via NBC News/Facebook

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