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Theodore Wafer charged in death of Renisha McBride outside Detroit

Theodore Wafer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride earlier this month in Dearborn Heights, a suburb of Detroit. McBride was shot in the face on Wafer’s porch, and members of her family say that she was probably asking for help after wrecking her car a few blocks away.

At a news conference, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said that Wafer did not act in self-defense. There was evidence McBride had knocked on Wafer’s locked door, but there was nothing to suggest she tried to break in, the prosecutor said. Toxicology data released Thursday indicates that McBride had been drinking and smoking marijuana before her death, according to the Associated Press.

Although Wafer is white, and McBride was black, Worthy insisted that race was not a factor in the decision to press charges. Rahiel Tesfamariam notes the similarities between McBride and other victims of interracial violence, notably Trayvon Martin:

Despite the fact that a black man has held the highest political seat in the world for five years, countless African Americans continue to be unjustly profiled daily. Whether it’s unwarranted stop-and-frisk incidents or deadly “mistaken identity” tragedies, the price for racial bias and fear is paid seemingly everyday. And it goes beyond police brutality, reaching the porches of American homes.

So again I ask, what has changed? . . .

It is exhausting to have to constantly validate the humanity of black and brown people. We do it knowing that it is our human duty — not only to McBride, but to ourselves. Because if she can be killed so viciously without charges even being filed, we know the same can happen to us.

Amidst all these conversations about the fears held about black men, a black woman was shot in the face as she seemingly sought help. A woman. This might be a rude awakening for women who fight tirelessly to preserve the lives and freedoms of black men. While we will wait to watch how this case unfolds, McBride’s killing reminds us that we too must be vigilant. We too may be killed for walking while black.

Rahiel Tesfamariam

Wafer is also charged with manslaughter and the possession of a firearm while committing a felony.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.
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