Did you hear about the mass grave in Mississippi? The one behind the Hinds County Detention Center, where 215 bodies have been found? Many of them missing people, some killed by police?
Yes. You did read that right. No. I am not making it up. Read for yourself.
You expect to hear about things like this dating back to the Jim Crow Era. You expect to hear about mass hidden graves like this from places like the Residential Schools here in Canada.
But this grave site is currently estimated to have been active from 2016 up to today. This is based on coroner's reports from the local morgue.
As pointed out by a lawyer working on behalf of a family who found out that their son was buried here, the only sign marking the body's location was a placard labeled '672'.
Upon exhuming the remains, they found that the body of the deceased was dumped in a shallow trench and tucked inside of a body bag. There was no casket. The family was never informed.
He was found to have plenty of identification on him at the time of his death-he literally had his wallet in his pocket. His name and address would have been easy to find.
But no effort to report his death or notify the family was made.
The man in question was allegedly killed in a hit and run by a police officer. After several missing person reports and a search, police remained tight-lipped on the status of the individual they knew full well was dead.
They removed his body from the scene and said nothing to the woman who was begging for help in finding her missing son.
His name was Dexter Wade. We can add his list to the names of the hundreds and thousands of other young Black men who have been killed by police in the United States.
This is not a nightmare from the past. This is a modern-day horror.
Now, currently the known number of graves at the site is set at 215, because that's what they can confirm from the coroner's reports. The fact that the placard listed Mr. Wade's burial as '672' suggests that the actual number of bodies present could be much, much higher.
Police in the county insist that the graves are simply a pauper's grave site, where they bury the remains of those individuals who are never claimed by family after their deaths in custody.
It's no wonder that they aren't being claimed if the police never even bother to tell people their loved one is gone. Kinda makes it hard to show up and take the body home for a proper burial if you don't know they've died.
The Wade family is not alone in their grief. Other families are only now learning of where their missing loved ones ended up.
To add insult to injury, let me provide a quote from the above article.
Mary began the process of recovering her son’s body. She paid $250 to reclaim the rights to his remains. A coroner’s office staffer told her it would cost another $500 to have Marrio exhumed.
After police disposed of the remains of her son's body, she was charged $750 to reclaim him and have his body exhumed from the unmarked hole where they dumped him. That's an extra charge on top of the costs of the proper funeral.
Can you imagine? Your child is murdered, and this is how you find out? This is how you are treated by the people who are supposed to investigate the crime and bring his killer to justice?
They could probably have been more disrespectful and dismissive if they really tried, but it'd be tough.
Now, I know what the Conservative arguments will be. "They were no angels."
Listen to me carefully, guys: That. Doesn't. Matter.
They were human beings. The job of the police is to protect and serve, it is to detain and transport suspected criminals if they have probable cause to do so.
Cops are not judge, jury and executioner. Police officers have no right to kill people and dispose of their remains without facing accountability.
That goes for both accidental deaths and for self-defense. If you kill someone when your life is in danger, you are still accountable. There's still paperwork and investigations you've got to go through, and that's for good reason.
You don't just get to shoot somebody and walk away with a shrug.
Frankly, speaking as the niece of a police officer, cops should be under higher scrutiny than the general public! I expect a person trusted with the job of upholding the law to actually function in accordance with that law.
If you've got a badge and a gun, I'm going to hold you to a higher standard than I do an asshole neighbor. You'd better deserve the trust and authority you have been given.
Otherwise, what the hell is the point? Why should we place our trust in the cops, why should we listen to their demands and why should we ever expect them to help us when we need them?
People of color have been trying to beat this into our heads since the dawn of time.
Clearly the police officers, correctional facility staff and coroners in this case do not deserve to hold the positions they do. They don't deserve the trust they were given by their community. This can't be allowed to happen in a functioning democratic country. It's a disgrace.
My heart goes out to the families of the deceased, and I hope that justice comes swiftly for the people responsible for this.