Sheets of Blood Streets of Pain

OpEdI have two sons and two grandsons; I am safe in knowing they will under all but the very worst circumstances be safe on the streets of most cities. Why and how do I know this? My sons and grandsons are White, they are Caucasian and they aren’t mentally ill, they are not in the targeted group commonly at risk when walking down the sidewalk in any city or town. For that matter, they are not at risk in their own homes except in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Other mothers, mothers of Black sons and Brown sons cannot say the same thing. Mothers of Black and Brown sons and even of Black and Brown daughters must caution their children to be wary on the streets of their neighborhoods. They must caution their children to be afraid of the police. They must be afraid each time their children go out to play, go to the store even go to school; they must be afraid their child may not return. Other mothers, an estimated five hundred (500) a year bury their children due to police violence; violence that is rarely prosecuted, frequently ignored by the press and all too often excused as ‘justified’.

2012 Compare

Racism is not dead in this nation. Shame on any of us for trying to bury the inherent and blatant racism of the United States and its people, it has always been part of our makeup and it has come roaring back in its full and awful glory in the past decade, especially since the election of our current President. It did not start in 2007 with his win over John McCain though, it started emerging as accepted political and social fodder long before this, the best example is New York City and the Stop and Frisk policy initiated under Rudy Giuliani and escalated under Michael Bloomberg.

StopNFrisk

It seems instead of moving forward toward more acceptance of diversity within society we are reverting to our inglorious past of injustice, lynch mob mentality and criminalization based on melanoma content.

What is good for one is surely not good for another; we have examples of this across the nation. In Florida, Trayvon Martin was shot down by vigilante George Zimmerman; he lay on the cold ground out in the rain and then in the morgue for hours before his family was notified their child was dead. In a travesty of justice where Trayvon was put on trial, where Trayvon was depicted as a ‘thug’ and a ‘banger’, where Trayvon’s humanity and his right to exist were called into question, his killer was exonerated for his murder. This because he, this grown man, was ‘standing his ground’. In Florida, this very same state a Black woman in fear for her life, shot a warning shot at the ceiling as her abusive husband advanced toward her, now Marissa Alexander faces the possibility of sixty (60) years in prison. Her life, her motherhood, her fear is not as palatable to the judge or the district attorney, Angela Corey, as that of George Zimmerman.  Clearly, the life of Marissa Alexander, a Black woman is not of the same value as that of George Zimmerman or Angela Corey wouldn’t be so hell bent on pursuing her with such vehement hatred where she didn’t pursue George Zimmerman with the same vehemence.

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There is clearly a war on, the lives of primarily Black men and mostly those under thirty-five are definitely at risk when out on the street of any US city or town. It doesn’t seem to matter what they are doing, whether coming home from a day at the office, sitting on their porch having a beer with friends, returning from the store or in fact otherwise engaged in legal or illegal activities; the police assume the worst and open fire. All too frequently, the police are shooting first, shooting more times than required and shooting in the back.  Let me just say this, you are not at risk or in danger if a subject is fleeing, that is running away from you. So why in the hell are you shooting to kill if someone is running away from you? Why are some of these men being shot up to ten (10) times, or even more, in the back? How does anyone justify this as a “Justified” shooting? Why are these cops still on the job?

Yesterday eighteen year-old Michael Brown was shot down in the street of Ferguson, Missouri. His body was left where it lay for four hours or more. Now as reports of this ‘sanctioned’ murder come out the police are glossing facts with fiction, making Michael into the aggressor and trying to justify yet another police kill of a young and promising Black child. The police have a very different version of the facts than what witness reports, who do you think will win in this battle? It certainly will not be young Michael Brown; his life is over before it started.

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Just two days earlier, twenty-two year-old John Crawford was gunned down in Walmart for wielding a toy gun. A toy gun you all, in Ohio one of the bastions of Open Carry. I guess Open Carry only applies to those with limited or no melanoma, certainly it didn’t apply to John Crawford who at the time he was gunned down in WalMart had in his hands an unloaded MK-177 BB/Pellet Gun he had picked up off the shelf. According to the mother of his two children, who was at the time of his sanctioned murder on the phone with him and heard everything, the police shot first and ordered him to the ground after he could no longer obey their orders; he had been put down by their bullets. Clearly, John Crawford wasn’t afforded the same legal rights, as others with pale skin would have been. Now a young man is dead and three children will grow up without their father.

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Others like these assclowns in Aurora, Colorado who walked up and down the streets with loaded shotguns trying to ‘sensitize’ civilians to open carry. I am going to guess had these young men been Black or even Hispanic the outcome would have been very different.

This is what I find ugly and horrifying, tragic.

Reasons

What is important to know, there are no official records anywhere; the police are not required by any federal agency to self-report their own bad behavior. They are not required to track or maintain records on brutality, violence or murder. They do not provide this information to any other agency. Though there are some records, they are gathered through many sources and backbreaking legwork. Trying to find any sort of statistics, especially on a national level is nearly impossible since there is no single source. I commend those who have done the work to try to gather the information and provide at least some evidence of vigilante brutality that exists today, not just within the police forces nationally but across our justice system and embedded in our psyche.  The two reports I found that seemed to provide the best I have included here:

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Information Clearing House

I have included others as well, where information on both recent and historical data can be found and is important to read.

Based on the information I found, there is a person of color, primarily a Black Man and primarily a young Black Man murdered in vigilante justice, usually by the police somewhere between every 24 to 28 hours in the United States. We do not hear about most of these killings. The murderers are rarely penalized for their actions. Since 9/11 there have been approximately five thousand (5,000) vigilante murders by on-duty police / security guard and stand your ground murders in the United States. More than 75% of these are against Black people, less than 10% of these are against White people and most White people killed by police are killed after police stand-offs in highly publicized cases.

Something has to change. The motto of ‘Protect and Serve’ is no longer valid, especially not in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods of our cities and towns. The police are militarized and the “War on Drugs” has turned into something far more insidious and damaging to our nation and our people. We must stop turning away and pretending this isn’t genocide, it is. We must stop looking at other nations and speaking out against the genocide there until we begin to clean up what is broken here. This isn’t just bad behavior, it is murder and it is more than killing individuals, it is killing of entire communities and vital lifeblood within them.

We must stop this. Those of us with the will, the heart and the soul to stand up must stand up and say enough. We must stop turning a blind eye to the terrible ugliness within this nation and our people. We must fight back and demand justice for all the dead children, they are our children and our future.

Sign the petition for federal laws to force better policing:http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-please-enact-new-federal-laws-to-protect-citizens-from-police-violence-and-misconduct?share_id=oCtNFmJSac&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

 

http://www.nyclu.org/node/1598

http://www.nyclu.org/content/stop-and-frisk-data

http://theobamacrat.com/2014/08/10/are-black-lives-important-in-a-caucasian-world-of-white-privilege/

http://ushypocrisy.com/2014/08/10/ferguson-police-shoot-and-kill-another-unarmed-black-teenager-in-cold-blood-refuse-to-identify-name-of-shooter/

http://www.infowars.com/americans-killed-by-cops-now-outnumber-americans-killed-in-iraq-war/

Trayvon and Me

There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

President Dwight Eisenhower

 

I have struggled with how to write this for weeks now. The escalation of emotions across the nation at the senseless and violent death of a boy on the brink of manhood is something none of us can quite fathom, quite accept and so we seek reasons for why it happened. What is it in our national psyche that causes us to seek justifications for what is inexplicable?

Each time I have approached writing this epistle my heart cracks. I am reminded of the feelings my family felt; the hurts and anger they experienced when they thought they might have lost me to random violence. When I have tried to write, I am brought to my knees, my mind explodes with questions but the most important is why.

Trayvon and Me

26-Feb-2012: Trayvon Martin a Black youth is found shot dead in Stanford, Florida. Trayvon is 17 years old, just a child, his entire life ahead of him.

7-Feb-1992: Valentine Logar a White woman is found shot three times in Fort Worth, Texas. Valentine is 34 years old, a mother of two young sons (read story here The Complete Story).

What do the two crimes; twenty years apart have in common you ask, certainly on the surface they don’t seem to be linked in any way. There is no direct relationship between Trayvon and me, the relationship is one created by my broken heart over the lives lost in our nation, not just Trayvon’ s, but those of the three young boys, not yet men who lost their lives the night they tried to take mine.

My purpose is to draw some parallels, in part because on 13-March-2012 the first of the three who shot me that fateful night was released from prison after serving his entire twenty-year sentence. He was born on 14-December-1975, he was just 17 years old when he was sentenced; he will be 37 years old this year. He has spent more time in prison than free.

Courtesty of News National Post.com

Trayvon died in his confrontation with George Zimmerman. There is a great deal of speculation that race played a part in Trayvon’s death, George Zimmerman determined Trayvon was a ‘suspicious’ character who did not belong and escalated a confrontation which ended in the death of Trayvon. Speculation aside, we know George Zimmerman stole this child’s life, we know this because George Zimmerman confessed to killing Trayvon. We currently have George Zimmerman’s side of the story; we have 911 calls and we have what many believe are questionable police procedures. We know one other thing right now, George Zimmerman is not sitting in jail, he is not out on bond either; George Zimmerman is a free man who after taking the life of a child is walking free in the community.

Why do I draw parallels, why am I so bothered by this story?

I keep wondering what would have happened if the roles would have been reversed, if the color of my skin had been Black and the color of my attackers had been White. Would the outcome been different?

I have read the confessions of my attackers. I wasn’t the only victim; I was the lucky one though. One thing it is important to know bigotry and racial hate runs deep and runs all ways. It isn’t just White on Black, it can be Black on White or any other combination; the difference is we just don’t hear about it as often. In their confessions, one of the key statements was their desire to “Kill White People”; this was their sole purpose.

Three young boys, not even out of their teens lost their lives the night they tried to take mine. Recent history says if our racial make-up had been reversed, the outcome would have very likely been different. I am appalled by this, heartsick in fact.

I do not have survivor’s guilt. My position hasn’t changed on forgiveness, remorse and reconciliation. Nor has my position changed on Justice, we all deserve it.

This means Trayvon deserves Justice.

Courtesy Washington Post

The Martins deserve justice for Trayvon.

This nation deserves justice for Trayvon but more than this, our children deserve better from us.

For our children who are losing their lives and futures before they have the opportunity to reach for it, we have to stand up and demand better. Our young boys and girls who are languishing in failing schools and communities without work for their fathers and mothers, they deserve more from us than our inattention or failure to engage. Our children deserve more than to be cannon fodder for the political warfare we are waging. Our children deserve more than another generation of sharing the yard, we already have three generations behind bars; are we willing to make it four?

My heart is broken, not just for Trayvon and his family but surprisingly for the three young men who tried to take my life. I don’t forgive them their actions, but today I think I hurt for them.

Crime, Punishment and Victims

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