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Forgiveness, the ultimate sincere act

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“If you truly are sorry … I forgive you,” Brandt Jean told his brother’s killer. “I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you.”  

My heart sank the first time I watched Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, hug ex-police officer Amber Guyger. His words felt true; he was forgiving, and at the same time, I found myself empathizing with Guyger.   

For a moment, I understood her reasoning, her pain and healing process.   

Guyger shot Botham Jean inside his own apartment while he sat on his couch eating ice cream, after she mistook him for an intruder inside her apartment, which was one floor above Jean’s.  

It was when I watched Judge Tammy Kemp hug her too that reality hit me.   

That moment was Brandt Jean’s and Guyger’s – not mine, not the judge’s and not the rest of the world’s. It happened so they could heal and move forward because the fact remains that Guyger killed his brother.   

Their connection to this case is personal, for obvious reasons. It is a connection neither the judge nor I will ever have.   

That’s why we should continue being objective. It is not our duty to forgive Guyger and her actions regarding this specific case, but to look at the bigger picture: decades of profiling and police brutality that do not seem to stop.  

“No police officer would ever want to hurt an innocent person,” Guyger testified September during her trial in Dallas.  

While I do not want to question the veracity of her statement, I do want to ask, then why does it keep happening?   

According to Mapping Police Violence (, black people are three times more likely to be shot by police than white people and 21 percent of black victims are unarmed compared to 14 percent of white victims.  

I don’t even have to use statistics to be able to identify a problem in the system. I only have to compare two circumstances that involve two different crime suspects.   

Last April, police shot at the car of a robbery suspect in Oklahoma and hit three of four children inside the vehicle. The suspect, a black man, was also injured, taken to the hospital and later released in police custody to be charged with aggravated robbery.   

The man was guilty of robbing a Pizza Hut.  

Last August, police caught a triple-murder suspect outside a church in Virginia. The suspect, a white man, was naked and began strangling a groundskeeper at the scene before his arrest.   

In the video of the event, a policeman is seen using what seems like pepper spray and a baton to make him surrender, but never his gun. Even when it is clear he is carrying at least one.   

Robbing and murder are both crimes and, if a saint were to commit either, they’d be a criminal under the law. However, some criminals are being treated less harshly than others and, whenever they are, it is rarely a black man.   

“I was scared whoever was inside my apartment was going to kill me,” Guyger said while giving her testimony back in September.  

Fearing for one’s life is something I do not wish upon anyone, especially since we live in a country that is proud of its freedom. 

I hope every single person of color in the United States can someday experience real liberty, one where they do not have to fear that someone meant to protect them is going to kill them in their own country, or their own home.  

Marisol Chávez may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Marisol Chavez
Marisol Chavez, Web Editor
Marisol Chávez is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in legal reasoning at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is The Prospector’s copy editor and a freelancer covering the Texas-Mexico border for The Dallas Morning News and Al Día Dallas. After graduating this May, she will pursue a Juris Doctor degree.  
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Forgiveness, the ultimate sincere act