In a shocking incident, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager, was shot by an 84-year-old white homeowner when he accidentally rang the wrong doorbell in Kansas City last week. Yarl was on his way to pick up his younger brothers from a playdate when the error occurred. The teenager was shot twice, including once in the head, and is currently in stable condition.
The shooter, Andrew Lester, is now facing charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action, both felonies, as announced by a Clay County prosecutor. The case sparked outrage, leading to hundreds of protesters taking to the streets in Kansas City to demand justice for the teenager.
This tragic incident raises questions about the racial biases that permeate our society and the need to address systemic racism, which disproportionately affects people of color. As progressive millennials, we must examine how we can contribute to a more just and inclusive society.
Missouri’s Castle Doctrine and “stand your ground” law, passed in 2016, grant homeowners significant latitude to use lethal force when fearing for their safety. This incident, however, begs the question: why would a lost teenager cause such fear? Studies have shown that both police and civilians are more likely to use force against Black individuals than white individuals, even when unarmed.
To support Yarl’s recovery, a GoFundMe campaign has raised over $1.4 million. Yarl’s father told the Kansas City Star, “I don’t want anything special. I want justice.”
As we witness incidents like these, it is crucial to reflect on the importance of empathy, understanding, and communication in our communities. Let us stand together, call for justice for Ralph Yarl, and work towards building a society where everyone, regardless of their race, can feel safe and respected.