How will you react if you see your brother’s mug shot being used for target practice by the police? National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant was aghast and cried a couple of times after she saw her brother Woody Deant’s mug shot, taken 15 years ago, among the bullet riddled pictures of five African-Americans being used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers at a shooting range in Medley, Florida.
“I was like ‘why is my brother being used for target practice?’”Deant told NBC South Florida. “The picture actually has like bullet holes. One in my forehead and one in my eye…I was speechless,” Woody Deant was outraged, “I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5”.
— NBC 6 South Florida (@nbc6) January 15, 2015
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admitted that his officers could have used better judgment, but denies any racial profiling. He also defended the department’s use of images of real people:
Dennis’ excuse that ‘the sniper team had minority officers as well’ wasn’t enough for a group of clergy members who found the behavior heinous and reprehensible. “Our faith teaches us that all human life is sacred. And when human life is devalued, Jesus teaches us to put ourselves in the place of those whose humanity is denied, just as he did,” the pastors wrote on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Facebook page.
Later, members of the clergy created the hashtag #UseMeInstead on Twitter where pastors offered their own mug shots to be used as targets to force the police to think twice before pulling the trigger. “The point of the campaign was to inspire compassion, “motivated by our service to Christ and his call to love our neighbors,” Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman told The Washington Post.
— Erik Christensen (@erikchrist1973) January 18, 2015
— Jenna Couch (@PastorJenna) January 18, 2015
— Ashley Cook (@joyfulpriest) January 18, 2015
— Anne Lane Witt (@VaPriestess) January 18, 2015
“Essentially, we’re saying: We’re watching, we’re paying attention to this…It’s such a desensitization thing, that if you start aiming at young black men, and [are] told to put a bullet in them, you become desensitized. Maybe, to change the picture, it’s ‘you know what, dare ya, shoot a clergy person,” Gonnerman added.