A tragic crime of hate has reminded this country that racism and violence against Black people is not only suffered at the hands of police officers. A white supremacist in a town near Portland, Oregon, has showed us that no matter how much progress we make as a country, racism is alive, well and thriving.
19-year-old Larnell Bruce stood outside of a 7-Eleven and charged his phone at a wall outlet. Then Russell Courtier, 38, and his girlfriend Colleen Hunt, 35, pulled up to the convenience store in their Jeep. Within seconds, a violent fight between Courtier and Bruce broke out.
Hunt stood by the side, cheering her boyfriend on.
“Get him, baby,” Hunt said as she egged him on, “Get him, baby!”
Courtier then smashed Bruce’s head into the window of the store, prompting the clerk to phone 911. Bruce then pulled out a knife like object and got prepared to defend himself. Courtier and Hunt then got back into their Jeep and Bruce used this opportunity to take off running.
What happened next can only be described as being like a scene from a movie taking place in Jim Crow South.
The couple drove out of the parking lot and followed behind Bruce, who ran for his life. The Jeep made a first attempt to hit the teen, but Bruce dodged out of the way and onto the sidewalk. Bruce then ran across the street and the couple drove directly into oncoming traffic, hit the gas and struck the teen with a forceful impact.
Local police arrived just moments later to find the critically injured teen with blood gushing from his head and his ears lying in the middle of the street. Bruce was taken to a hospital, where he would die a few days later from severe brain injuries.
Gresham Police Department officers spotted the Jeep and pulled the couple over. According to a police affidavit, the couple openly admitted to running over the teen. Although there is no official motive regarding the attack, Courtier’s history with white supremacist gangs provides all the motive this case needs.
Courtier has a history with violent crime and with Oregon prisons. While spending much of his adult life behind bars, Courtier became a member of the white supremacy prison gang European Kindred (EK).
Courtier has spent time in and out of jail and happened to be on parole the night he ran over Larnell Bruce. The system worked for Courtier in a way that allowed him to commit crimes with guns, knives and other violent means and still be able to terrorize a young, Black man with his girlfriend in his arms.
Both Courtier and Hunt were indicted for murder on August 18. Hopefully this time justice is served for Bruce and every other Black person in America who has been the victim of racist acts and an unjust system. And maybe this terrible and tragic crime will remind our nation that it doesn’t matter how far we’ve come if a young person of color can be killed because they exist.
(Photo: Blend Images / PBNJ Productions/Getty Images)