As many of you may know, Steve Stephens violently and senselessly murdered 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in the Glenville area of Cleveland on Easter Sunday. The video of the murder was recorded on Facebook live and has been making its rounds on the internet. After killing Mr. Godwin, Stephens made another video proclaiming that he has killed more than a dozen others (law enforcement has not found any other victims).
It is rumored that Stephens’ mental health has gone awry after issues with his ex-girlfriend, filing bankruptcy, and “losing everything” he states on his Facebook.
Yesterday’s tragedy has affected a lot of us, being that Cleveland is our own backyard. But in the midst of this tragedy, I think we should keep some things in mind:
1.Do NOT Share The Video
Please, do not share the video of Mr.Godwin’s murder. This is at the request of the family. Let’s please respect their wishes in their time of bereavement, and at the same time, not traumatizing anyone else in the process.
Please be aware that your settings can be changed to not play videos automatically so you won’t see anything you don’t want to see, in case someone does share the video on your feed.
2. Do NOT Spread False Information
There have been a lot of rumors about the whereabouts regarding Stephens’ location. Until we have an official word from the proper channels, be quiet. I understand that this is frightening, being that he is killing innocent people, but there is no need to circulate inaccurate information. Keep your ear to the ground, make sure you and yours are good, and stay informed.
3. Be genuine
If you’re going to express sympathy for the victim(s) and the famil(ies), please let it be sincere. Don’t use this tragedy to denounce #BlackLivesMatter, Muslim people, Syrian people, or anyone else in order to promote your bigoted politics.
4. Stop Blaming Black Women
It baffles me at the lengths people will go to absolve men of accountability, and at the same time, blaming women. Stephens’ ex-girlfriend has been harassed on Facebook since Mr. Godwin’s murder has gone viral. Stephens’ mother has also been a target. Yesterday’s murder was not their fault and it is not their obligation to bait and lure him in, probably putting themselves in harm’s way in the process. This is misogynoir at it’s best.
The responsibility of this/these act(s) of violence are solely on Stephens, and the responsibility to track him down lie solely with law enforcement.
5. Mental Health
I think we need to very careful on how we discuss mental health and the role it plays in this specific set of circumstances. I am no one’s mental health professional, but blaming this act of violence on solely on the state of Stephens’ mental health seems a little off base.
The mental health of Black men is an aspect of the culture that we need to take more seriously, but again, let’s not shift the accountability here.
Rest in Peace to Mr. Godwin! Keep the family lifted in prayer and respect their privacy.