Archives for category: Police Shooting

Arrested for Justice!

They explained what to do and what not to do. Everything seemed so “organized.” It all made sense. I thought I understood how it was supposed to go. But my heart still pounded and my throat had a lump. They warned us about prior convictions. My mind kept wondering if I had any convictions…or even had been arrested. I couldn’t remember whether or not I had. My deep-seated distrust in the criminal justice system as a black, gay, HIV-positive man was beginning to show. All the reassurances in the world could not soothe the butterflies fluttering in my stomach.

Prior to today my record was squeaky clean, besides the traffic tickets that keep being hailed as the example of “no big deal.” But reminded me of all the times I thought I might die from a traffic stop. And all the times I thought I might be criminalized because of my sexuality. And all the times my HIV status has been used to dehumanized my black body. Yet, I chose to be arrested.

I chose to be arrested alongside the Missouri state delegate. He is a white, straight, food service worker earning $9 per hour. He is forced to chose between child support payments and healthcare. Because 50% of his pay goes to child support. He is forced to live without healthcare. Our lives could not have been further apart, but we chose to be arrested together today.

It wasn’t that bad. We chanted. We sang. We were warned. We surrendered. What I had feared all my life and sworn to avoid, was not that bad. And maybe that’s the problem. Just maybe the fear of being arrested keeps us from doing the work of justice. Perhaps the system is set up to keep the people just complacent enough to do nothing.

As I sat there on the grassy Capital lawn, behind police tape and steel barricades with like-minded strangers for justice, I thought about those who have not organized, those who did not know what to do. As I looked down at my plastic handcuffs, relieved that they were not real, even though they were….it was difficult not to act out. The meekness of the police was provocative. Their soft spokenness, their generosity of spirit up juxtaposed to the violence of state sanctioned poverty made it difficult to comply. The violence suffered by the least of these, created a deep-seated rage, prompting me to cry out.

What do we want? Justice!

When do we want it? Now!

If we don’t get it? Shut it down!

If we don’t get it? Shut it down!

If we – don’t – get – it?

Shut it down!

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Are they? Are they? Are the allies of rabid racists “Fine People?” Yes, according to our Fine President. Those cheering alongside racists, fascists, neo-Nazi, white supremacists, white nationalists, and the KKK are “Fine People.”

When he first said this, I was quite surprised. How could he say such a thing. Right there in the hallowed lobby of Trump Tower, in front of those gold-plated elevators, steps away from Fifth Avenue? I was aghast. Surely the President of the United States of America did not equate racists with anti-racists, fascists with anti-fascists, KKK with anti-KKK.

But why on earth am I surprised? This man has said and done the worst things. Worst than any publicly praised political figure in my lifetime. “Grab em by the pussy.” “Mexican rapists.” “Little Marco.” “Crooked Hillary.” Ever since the day he descended the escalators of that same lobby, Mr. Trump has said the most appalling things. Things that many would never say. Things that we all think and may say in the most intimate of spaces. Such things that haven’t been said out loud beyond the go-go bar nor HBO in a generation. Things that would make Sarah Silverman blush, he has dared to utter into the living rooms of the ever faithful American religious right wing conservative, and beyond.

But perhaps that’s why I’m quite surprised. It’s quite surprising to see such sedition in plain sight, with my very own eyes…and hear them with my very own ears. I’ve heard of them through the lips of many others, as they lamented the water hoses, the police dogs, the lynch mobs, the death camps. For generations “Fine People” have been committing evil atrocities, prompting equally “Fine People” to rise up against them.

The “Fine People” of the North, came down to fight the “Fine People” of the South in order to put an end to slavery. The “Fine People” of the Allied armies, joined forces to defeat the “Fine People” of Italy, Germany, and Japan. The “Fine People” of the Civil Rights Movement led a non-violent movement against the “Fine People” of the Jim Crow South, many of whom held many a fine picnic just beneath the lynching tree. The “Fine People” of the United States of America invaded the “Fine People” of Vietnam, and the “Fine People” of Saddam’s Iraq, and the “Fine People” of Bin Laden’s Taliban who weaponized a plane full of “Fine People” bringing down two towers filled with “Fine People” on September 11th, 2001. All very “Fine People.”

Everyday I live and work and worship with “Fine People,” living “Fine Lives” longing to hear the words, “Everything is just fine.” “You are doing everything well and right. You are in no way and by no means implicated in anything that is evil or undesirable or inhumane. You are powerless to do anything beyond the many good things you are already doing. You are fine. Everything is just fine. Or is it?

What’s most surprising about Trump’s charge that there were “Fine People” on both sides, is its brilliance. It’s brilliant because, as Americans, we all just wanna be “Fine People.” This has become the bar for all of western humanity. Mr. Trump himself was accused of having a family of “fine people” by the very opponent that he accused of paying off her husband’s rape victim. Many voted for President Trump, under the assumption that he was a “Fine Person” with “Fine Children.” In 2014, #BlackLivesMatter protested “fine white people” who deeply believe New York’s Finest are policing just fine, thank you very much, despite the unarmed death of the not-so-fine black body of Eric Gardner. Almost all of the policemen who committed these murders have been acquitted because they are “Fine Policemen” called to protect and serve “Fine White People.”

The problem with “Fine People” is that they are rarely fine, “bless they’re hearts.” “Fine People” are really restless, fearful people willing to do anything to reach the not-so-high bar of feeling just fine, thank you very much. “Fine People” are willing to forego just about anything to remain just fine. “Fine People” are only willing to tweet the bare minimum to insure that everything remains fine. “Fine People” are satisfied with waiting out the rage so that we can get on with the fine business of representative government. “Fine People” are only moved to action when the immediate luxuries of they’re “Fine Lives” are frightened and frustrated.

More than anything, “Fine people” want us all to believe that everything is fine so that those of who are far from fine, will do the least amount necessary to bring about any real  and lasting social change. For this reason, both the fascists and the Antifa were far from fine in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. One side was evil, the other courageous, each committed to fulfilling its respective agenda: one, the complete annihilation of non-white races…the other, the full equality and inclusion of all people…both by any means necessary.

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I find this very, very hard to believe. It can’t not be unintentional, right? What if it’s intentional? What if it’s not an accident? What if we are being strategically targeted? We very well could be? How can we not be? Every time it happens, I ask myself, “How does this keep happening?” Sanford. Ferguson. Staten Island. Brooklyn. Cleveland. Baton Rouge. Hempstead. Salt Lake City. Baltimore. Tulsa. Charlotte. These are just the few that I could remember without doing a proper Google search. In the Northeast. In the South. In the Midwest. All ages. Both sexes. Many classes. One race. BLACK. I find this very, very hard not to believe. It can’t not be unintentional, right? If Isis is strategic, and if the west and south sides of Chicago are premeditated, then these recurrent acts of implicit bias might just be explicit. Perhaps there is a premeditated plot, a concocted network of rogue officers who have orchestrated a system of organized violence against BLACK life. What if that is what it is? Really! I mean it. What if the trigger happy policeperson is really just the policeman predestined to exterminate a BLACK life on any given Sunday, just the policewoman preordained to pick off Wednesday’s child playing in the park. This very well could be? How can it not be? In Ferguson and Baltimore and the Jim Crow South, the Justice Department has exposed patterns of racial discrimination in police agencies. Yet still, my assumption is that it is systemic and unintentional, that the common ways and means and ends are all coincidental. Over and over and over and over again we see video evidence of unarmed BLACK men and BLACK women being assaulted and executed by reckless white police officers. Even as a BLACK man I find it very, very, very hard not to believe that the same senseless insanity committed over and over and over and over again is not just another accident. I find it very hard not to believe that it is a mishap, that it just might possibly be intentional. It can’t not be unintentional, right? What if it is? I find this very, very hard not to believe.