— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) August 11, 2014
Jim Salter . . .
Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man shot and killed by a suburban St. Louis police officer was unarmed, police said Sunday during a news conference that occurred while hundreds of angry protesters gathered outside to demand answers. “We’re outraged because yet again a young African-American man has been killed by law enforcement,” said John Gaskin, who serves on both the St. Louis County and national boards of directors for the NAACP. “This is an issue everywhere in America.”
Bruce Springsteen: “It ain’t no secret, no secret my friend . . .” We know why this keeps happening,
America’s minorities know why, every progressive knows why, the police sure as hell know why. It’s no secret, it’s staring us all in the face.
Racist Police . . .
Whenever an act of police violence occurs against an African-American or any marginalized person, it is portrayed as an isolated incident. As if the case were out of the ordinary, rare, random, or accidental. This is far from the truth. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s “Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black People” examined the murders of 120 black men and women by police officers, security guards, or self-appointed law enforcers between January 1 and June 30, 2012. During those six months, a person of African descent was executed every 36 hours. Police violence against black people occurs far more often than reported. Rather than the exception, this sort of systemic racist violence is the norm.
Is it a gun?
Is it a knife?
Is it a wallet?
This is your life.
Racists with badges, in the NYPD, in the LAPD, in police departments all across this country, eager to serve and protect the public by detecting suspicious activities, such as walking while black.
Was it some Skittles?
Wrong color skin?
They took your life.
Because walking while black is becoming an ever-increasing threat to public safety, police departments nationwide have concluded that they have no choice but to spend several billion dollars on heavy weaponry and armored vehicles.
Paramilitary Police . . .
Police departments are acquiring military vehicles such as the Mine Resistance Ambush Protected (MRAP) and the BearCat through the 1033 Program. MRAP’s are 14-ton armored fighting vehicles designed to survive an improvised explosive device (IED) and have been used frequently in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The BearCat is an acronym for a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, and according to the law enforcement website of its manufacturer, Lenco, can be equipped with an M60 machine gun, a 204B machine gun, or a mark 19 grenade launcher.
On America’s streets you’ve got to understand the rules . . .
Due process? Forget that. Anyone with a badge can kill you.
Those are the rules.
Obviously there are bad cops, there are rogue cops, and they deserve to be criticized and they should be help accountable. But we got to where we are because of bad policies that were pushed and passed by public officials. And that’s really where we need to focus the blame and the efforts at reform. Because you can fill police departments with the most conscientious well intended police officers in the country. But if it’s a bad system that’s loaded with bad incentives, the good cops are either going to leave in frustration, or they’re going to turn bad, or they’re just going to be miserable at their jobs.
So this is a policy issue. We have police departments that are recruiting the wrong types of people. If you go to You tube and type in police recruitment video, you’ll see the videos the police departments sent out to colleges and high schools to recruit new officers. And not all of them, but a disturbingly high percentage of the videos emphasize the wrong aspect of policing, and they emphasize kind of the kicking ass and taking names side of the job. The images of cops, you know, tackling people, and shooting at people, and sicking dogs, and you know rappelling out of helicopters. The problem here is with the very first step in the process–they’re appealing to people who would want the job for all the wrong reasons.
And they’re hiring them, and they’re giving them guns, and they’re sending them out into our streets.
Amadou Diallo. Oscar Grant. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. How many other victims have there been, killed by police with no witnesses? How many more young black men are going to be killed by this country’s “law enforcement professionals?” How many more are going to die because “law-abiding patriots” stood their ground? Who’ll be next to take that ride, across that bloody river to the other side?
That river of blood is 3,000 miles long, it runs through the red states, it runs through the blue states, it’s deep and it’s getting deeper, we’re all trapped in that surging current of violence, we’re up to our necks in it, we’re being baptized in its waters and in each other’s blood.
William Faulkner . . .
Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have become, refuse to bear them.
Have we heard enough shots yet? Have we seen enough injustice yet? Have we felt enough dishonor yet? Have we tasted enough shame?
Maybe we have. Maybe we finally have . . .