Remember the D.C. Sniper? If you lived anywhere in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia metro area) in 2002 you remember the “Three Weeks of Fear” in October as John Muhammed and his adopted son randomly took pot-shots at innocent bystanders with no rhyme or reason. It was October 24th, nine years ago today, that the serial killer and his son were founding sleeping in their car in an empty parking lot by police, ending one of the most bizarre and frightening national crime sprees in years. The worst part of the case was of course the deaths of 10 innocent people and the wounding of three others, but even nine years since those of us who weren’t directly affected by the crime spree can still see the lingering effects.
First, the whole D.C. Sniper case was the ironic embodiment of Chris Rock’s “Color of Crime” routine from “Born Suspect:”
“Every night people watch the news, hear a crime story, and wait for the videotape to see the alleged criminal’s color. White people watch the story and say, “Betcha it was a black guy.” Black people watch the story and say, “Please, Lord, don’t let it be a black guy. I want to go to work tomorrow in peace.”
I don’t know who was more shocked when John and John with their nappy fros and angry militant stares were finally pulled in by the cops: The FBI who had been looking for a disgruntled middle aged White man with no marketable skills, or every Black person in America who was like “Damn now WE do that serial killer stuff, too?” Drugs, money or ex-girlfriends were usually at the root of crazy Black people crimes, postal worker flip-outs, shooting sprees and cannibalism were white people crimes. As egregious as his crimes were even Ray Carruth’s nonsense hit two out of the three “Black Crime motivators.”
Beyond the obvious shock that the sniper wasn’t a White man, the nation’s rapt attention on the case ended up impacting the 2002 mid-term elections, as well. The 24 news channels focus on the sniper case moved the unfolding of the spring’s Enron scandals to the backburner which kept the Bush Administration’s losses to the bare minimum.
There haven’t been many high profile Black serial killers since, which is of course a good thing. But for those of you longing for the days when a Black man could be the focus of a long drawn out criminal pursuit and it has nothing to do with crack cocaine or dog fighting you can always check out Mos Def on Showtime’s serial killer dramedy Dexter. I’m pretty sure he’ll be back to his old ways by season’s end.
This article originally appeared at Politic365.com.