Did they know they’d hired a racist? It’s possible. Maybe they didn’t know how to identify a racist? Pointed questions could have helped. Maybe they didn’t care? Concern is born out of relationship and there is none. Maybe this is the way they want it? Truth.
Racism disguised is still racism. Hoover, Alabama is open to everybody. Bullshit. Hoover is open to white folk. Racism there is barely disguised.
After arriving early to meet a friend at a restaurant next to the Galleria Mall (the scene of the crime), I watched a police officer let dozens of white people speed by him. As soon as he saw a young black man, he flipped the lights on. I couldn’t even figure out what he did wrong. Once he had the young man stopped, the officer jumped out of the car, ran towards the drive and started screaming commands. Everyone in the restaurant thought that they were about to watch this officer shoot this young man. The theatrics seemed to grow bigger and bigger until the officer noticed all of us pressed up against the glass. Eventually, the officer let the young man go with a warning. Consistently, the officer looked back at us to make sure that we saw that he let the young man off. While everyone around me saw a compassionate officer, I saw an officer who would have killed that young man if we hadn’t all been there. The next day I called the Hoover Police Department to talk to somebody about what happened. This being the days before body cameras, there was no proof to validate what I was saying. I’ll never forget what the desk officer said, “Sometimes we have to shoot first and ask questions later.” The conversation ended there.
Though many years have passed, I immediately wondered if it was the same officer.
Why was he out? Who gives a shit? He was a young man living his life. Maybe he wanted to buy some new sneakers? Maybe he was getting a bite to eat at the food court? Maybe he was simply hanging out with friends? There are a million positive reasons why he could have been there. Was he involved in an altercation? Who knows? One thing is certain…he didn’t kill anybody. The officer didn’t care.
A number of years ago, I lived near Hoover. I have actually been to the spot of the shooting many times.
Embodying the spirit of days gone by in Alabama, a police officer has killed a black man. Immediately after shots were fired in the Galleria, an officer ran toward the scene. When the officer saw that EJ Bradford had a gun…he shot him in the face. Not only did EJ not kill anybody…there is no proof that he did anything wrong at all. It is quite possible that EJ was actually trying to help…or at the very least defend himself. Police speculation don’t ever make fact…in fact…their speculation consistently makes injustice. Knowing Hoover, the officer might not have speculated at all. Maybe he just saw this as an opportunity to kill a black man. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Now, an innocent man is dead…a killer is on the loose…and Hoover remains one of the most dangerous cities in our country to be black in.
“Shoot first and ask questions later.”
This is AmeriKKKa.
EJ Bradford is our latest Martyr.