Amber Guyger, the disgraced Dallas police officer who murdered her neighbor, Botham Jean, was sentenced to a minuscule 10 years in prison yesterday. In a shocking gesture, Jean’s brother and the judge who presided over the case, embraced Guyger before she exited the courtroom.
“I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you,” 18-year-old Brandt Jean told Guyger during the moment. The hug lasted nearly a minute.
“What he did today, was remarkable, and he did it all on his own,” the victim’s mother Allison Jean, told CBS News. “What Brandt did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber … I do not want it to be misconstrued as a complete forgiveness of everybody.”
Brandt’s act of kindness triggered emotions both inside and outside of the courtroom. While Judge Tammy Kemp was moved to tears and, to later embrace Guyger herself, Black Twitter was frustrated by the interaction. The entire sentencing scene sparked a debate about forgiveness in the Black community.
One Twitter user wrote, “The idea us black folk must always forgive our oppressors is just another arm of white supremacy. And it in a way serves to uphold the white supremacist power structure. They don’t want justified black rage or anger. Black bodies are barely buried, before they expect forgiveness.”
Others weighed in on a range of perceived issues which included the power of white tears, the disparate treatment of Black and white people within the justice system, and the overall handling of the case.
Despite the opinions of social media, Jean family attorney Daryl Washington told CBS News that Brandt’s compassion is what the deceased would have wanted.