Last year, after the death of Officer Michael Bailey, I wrote a tribute of sorts to him. Mr. Bailey was a teacher and friend.
For the last twelve months, I’ve asked one out of every two officers I’ve seen on the street for some kind of update on this case. I’ve introduced myself to them, told them what I always tell officers on the street, to be careful, and then I’ve asked about my teacher’s death. I’ve gotten sad responses. In summary I always heard that nothing had changed as far as that officer knew. Once I was told that the killer could be dead. I was told that the reward was too large for people to stay quiet forever. I was told that it could have been an inside job. It was raining the morning I heard that one, and I walked away depressed. I was on my way to church, and I don’t remember what happened in service that morning.
I was glad to see last night on the news and read of an arrest in connection with my friend’s murder. In my mind, this arrest is a step toward justice. It doesn’t remove the pain of our loss of a good man and servant of the city. It certainly doesn’t extinguish the hurt associated with Michael Bailey’s death. And the arrest doesn’t answer the deep questions which probably won’t be raised or addressed in a trial. But the arrest does turn our city toward justice. I’m glad for that.
I will not celebrate specifically at the young man’s arrest. I won’t celebrate that his life, which was already troubled if the reports are true, has been changed. I cannot celebrate when I see the image of a Black man on the television or the web in connection with another Black man’s murder. There is something so essentially upsetting about that that I can’t begin to digest. But I do, indeed, celebrate that in the authorities finding him, the family and loved ones of Michael Bailey can locate some relief. For my part, that relief is mixed and paradoxical. Mr. Bailey spent his life serving men like the one who killed him. He protected men like the one standing before a judge at some point today. And so, the mixed feeling of knowing who (may have) pulled the trigger to kill my friend is strong. Violent death–and to some degree all deaths are–pushes hard questions that no arrest or trial or interview or sentence can answer.
I’m glad the man was caught. Still, appreciation turns to sobermindedness, to patience.