Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Jaahnavi Kandula’s death unveils the ongoing struggle against racism in today’s society

Jaahnavi+Kandula%E2%80%99s+life+was+taken+by+an+irresponsible+police+officer%2C+Kevin+Dave%2C+who+was+speeding+through+a+public+street.+Dave+then+commented%3A+%E2%80%9CShe+had+limited+value.%E2%80%9D+a+painful+showcase+of+how+the+police+often+treat+minorities.%28Drawing+courtesy+of+Adi+Rose+Henderson%29+
Jaahnavi Kandula’s life was taken by an irresponsible police officer, Kevin Dave, who was speeding through a public street. Dave then commented: “She had limited value.” a painful showcase of how the police often treat minorities.(Drawing courtesy of Adi Rose Henderson)

It’s brutal. It really is. The U.S. government has proved time and time again that it is unable to protect its citizens, from those meant to prevent crime. We’ve seen it with George Floyd, Duante Wright, Breonna Taylor, and now Jaahnavi Kandula.

Jaahnavi Kandula was killed on January 23, 2023, by a speeding Seattle police car. The driver of the vehicle was Kevin Dave. The release of Dave’s body cam this past Monday has left the country in shock.

As Dave reported back to another police officer, Daniel Auderer, of her death–Auderer: “ [A check of] Eleven thousand dollars. She was 26 anyway,” he said, inaccurately describing Kandula’s age.

Jaahnavi was twenty-three and was just about to graduate from college so that she could work–supporting her mother back in India. Besides, to claim that someone has limited value is dehumanizing and wrong on so many levels.

Many people of color, including me, have faced a variety of racist and devaluing remarks just because of our outward appearance. Last year in May, having turned seventeen, I went to go buy some groceries from a list my mom gave me. I went to grab bread because that was the last thing I needed, and a lady was blocking the section with her cart–I proceeded to say “Excuse me” and moved past her; and she called me a “Sand n*****” and a variety of other slurs I had never heard before.

The incident escalated to the point where security and the police got involved, and obviously, I was the one they questioned. Eventually, after several questions, the police dragged me out of the store–without my groceries and let me off with a warning.

This happened in this city, the City of Falls Church. People like Daniel Auderer and Kevin Dave exist everywhere, people who think they are higher than the law just because they’re included in the “justice system.”

“It’s outrageous and disgusting how these officers think they can just put a price tag on life,” senior Charlie VanHorn said. “It also really highlights the challenges which so many minorities face in this country.” Kandula’s life was worth just a mere eleven thousand dollars in the eyes of the Seattle police. Their words resonate with the broader issue of systemic injustice that plagues so many minorities in our country.

Senior Ben Barwig gave just two words: “Not surprised.” After all, police brutality has grown so common in the United States that it has become normalized.

“I already believe that minorities face discrimination in this country and this adds to it. Calling someone’s life meaningless and limited value is not right. I think these officers should face consequences. No one person should be in charge of deciding who has value and who doesn’t,” junior Ben Kozbelt said.

As a member of a minority community, this normalization of police brutality is a harsh reality that weighs heavily on my daily life. It’s a constant reminder that my safety and well-being may be compromised solely because of the color of my skin or my cultural background. The fear and uncertainty that comes with each interaction with the police are emotions I have learned to carry with me as a constant invisible burden.

It’s disheartening to witness how easily my experiences and those of others from minority backgrounds are dismissed or overlooked. The demand for justice and equality should not be a burden we bear alone; it should be a collective responsibility.

Until society acknowledges the deeply ingrained prejudices that perpetuate these injustices and actively works to dismantle them, the normalization of police brutality will continue to cast a shadow over the lives of countless individuals like me.

This only proves that these types of events happen on a daily basis and the only difference is that they go unreported. The idea that police see themselves as consistently superior to humanity extends beyond mere legal boundaries. While these officers may not have technically violated the law, there is a noticeable and unsettling lack of humanity present. The fact that these officers don’t value another person who has lost their life, is truly tragic and disgusting. Until someone is held accountable, people like me will live in fear.

 

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Umer Sohail
Umer Sohail, Staff Writer
Umer is a senior, who was a member of The Lasso back in 2020-2021. Umer enjoys boxing, and cricket.