This letter was written by Geoffrey Landers-Nolan, a member of the 3/20 Coalition.
The words “you can’t associate every incident” with hate from State Police Sgt. William Slaton have been ringing in my ears since he said them the night after Osaze Osagie was killed, before any interviews were completed, before any investigation had properly begun.
Approaching March 20, I find it important to remember what we have been told from the beginning, and why we, the 3/20 Coalition, must continue our advocacy.
The word “tragedy” has been used as a smokescreen for two years, and Osaze’s death is a tragedy. It is also a systemic failure to provide proper care to a Black man in a mental health crisis, and further failure to deliver accountability addressing that injustice.
When we are told “don’t connect this” by people in power, it’s a reminder that our connections are powerful — between facts, between cause and effect, between each other.
The more we learn about the circumstances around Osaze’s murder, the more we must question the motivation behind keeping things disconnected and less “complicated.” The more we learn painful truths, the more we must realize our responsibility to demand better as a community.
Our first task is deciding as a Centre Region that we are not okay with a justice system that terms the death of a man — whom police contacted for the sole purpose of helping him and making him safer — as “justified.”
Join us as we continue our advocacy, our questioning and our connecting with one another in pursuit of a better community.