Who was Elijah McClain? Here's why Ahmad Alissa is being compared to Colorado Black man who died during arrest
Before Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa was identified by authorities as the suspected gunman who opened fire at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, many online compared the incident with a 2019 case where Elijah McClain, an innocent Black man, died as a result of police violence. Alissa's actions resulted in the death of ten people, including a police officer.
Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said on Tuesday, March 23, that when cops searched Alissa’s home in suburban Denver, they found other weapons. He has been charged with ten counts of first-degree murder, and one charge of attempted murder, according to his arrest warrant.
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While this gruesome incident has left people across the country harrowed, many have now taken up to criticize law enforcement for how they treat people on the basis of their race. The photo of Alissa released by the police shows that he is a light-skinned man. This led many on Twitter to compare how differently a Black man would have been — and in fact, was — treated by the police.
“In 2019 cops in Colorado stopped Elijah McClain as he walked home, unarmed — Cops choked him to death. Yesterday a white man in Colorado killed 10 people, including a cop—Cops arrested him alive. Institutional racism is when white terrorists get more care than unarmed Black people,” wrote Pakistani-born American author, human rights activist, politician, and attorney Qasim Rashid. While Alisaa, reportedly belonging to a family that immigrated from Syria, is not white, some pointed out that he was light-skinned enough to elicit a milder reaction. "The shooter did not have a name tag on," noted a Twitter user.
“A white man walked into a grocery store in Boulder, killed 10 people, and was apprehended by the police and walked out of the building completely unharmed. Right down the street, police killed Elijah McClain while he apologized for not doing anything wrong,” said another Twitter user. Reacting to the video of Alissa being escorted by cops outside the store, one Twitter user said, “But they killed Elijah McClain for walking home.” Another Twitter user wrote, “#BoulderShooting suspect taken away alive, only two officers guiding him. An hour away from where Elijah McClain was murdered.”
In 2019 cops in Colorado stopped Elijah McClain as he walked home, unarmed—Cops choked him to death— Qasim Rashid, Esq. قاسم رشید (@QasimRashid) March 23, 2021
Yesterday a white man in Colorado killed 10 people, including a cop—Cops arrested him alive
Institutional racism is when white terrorists get more care than unarmed Black people
For ppl saying, LOOK AT THE SHOOTERS NAME! The shooter didn't have a name tag on or name plate over his head, how does the name make the man look any less white? It's also incredible that you don't see the dif between a light skinned man arrested and a black man killed no reason.— Ry Kelly (@Xenosbreed) March 23, 2021
A white man walked into a grocery store in Boulder, killed 10 people, and was apprehended by the police and walked out of the building completely unharmed.— Alex Cole (@acnewsitics) March 23, 2021
Right down the street, police killed Elijah McClain while he apologized for not doing anything wrong.
But they killed Elijah McClain for walking home. https://t.co/AkF6drPBcS— Blunt Baby. (@highcaitlynn) March 23, 2021
#BoulderShooting suspect taken away alive, only two officers guiding him. An hour away from where Elijah McClain was murdered. pic.twitter.com/qtmX7ntKRb— Corn Pee (@crinfinite) March 22, 2021
Who was Elijah McClain?
A 23-year-old Black man, McClain was walking home from a convenience store on August 24, 2019, in Aurora, Colorado, when someone called 911, saying he “looked sketchy” and was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms. Cops arrived on the scene, and after struggling to handcuff McClain, officers brought him to the ground and used a carotid hold, which restricts blood to the brain to render someone unconscious.
After officers restrained him on the ground, he vomited several times, for which he apologized, saying, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to do that, I can’t breathe correctly.” When medical responders arrived, after about 15 minutes, paramedics injected him with ketamine, a powerful sedative. McClain, who was a massage therapist, had a cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital. He died on August 30, 2020.
As per a New York Times report, an autopsy report by the Adams County coroner said that the cause of death was “undetermined,” and that it could have been a result of natural causes, a homicide related to the carotid hold or an accident. After McClain’s death, Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema were placed on administrative leave, but they have all since been reinstated.