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Est. April 5, 2002
September 10, 2015 - Issue 620

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Martyrs for the Masses

"Black men accounted for 30 percent of the
unarmed deaths, even though they make up
just 6 percent of the US population! You do
the math...the analysis shows that Black men
were seven times more likely than white men
to die by police gunfire while unarmed."

There comes a time when truths of the day must be told…from where the grass has no green. In the prophetic words of Malcolm X, quoting an old axiom, “The chickens are coming home to roost.” There have been 83 police officers killed in the line of duty thus far this year. What I know is that the country is responding like there’s something wrong. There’s a collective hand hovering just above the panic button, and it’s about to get smacked down.

For some odd reason, that number just feels high: 83 human beings from the same clan being wiped off the face of the earth just doesn’t seem right - and it isn’t. No one should be shot to death. Police deaths from shootings are down 16% this year nationwide, compared with the same period last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. There have been 26 firearms-related deaths this year, including two in training accidents, and 31 in 2014. Traffic accidents - followed by shootings - are the leading cause of police deaths. No, I don’t feel sorry for them.

This panic drummed up by conservative-minded, pro-establishment Americans is unfounded and ungrounded. The police are the most protected people walking the earth of this country - both physically, socially and politically. Think about it: While every other worker’s union is under attack and on the brink of extinction, the police unions are flourishing and untouched. Other Americans are not blind to this, but they are surely silent. Injustices and inequalities don’t go unanswered.

While we’re being "panic-buttoned" on the alarming number and nature of the attacks on police, the issue of whether black lives matter is being undermined. White Liberals want to water the issue down, Conservatives want to poo-poo the reality and Blacks of every persuasion are splintered on its importance. During a single two-week period in April, three unarmed black men were shot and killed. All three shootings were either captured on video or, in one case, broadcast live on local TV.

You see, I get pissed off when I see white people attempting to shout the Black protestors of unjustified killings of unarmed Black men with chants of “Blue Lives Matter.” We all intrinsically know how utterly racist that looks, even more, is.  When you do the numbers, Blacks exponentially outnumber police (like any other subset of the population), but disproportionally get killed at a higher rate than any other subset of the US population.  “Blue Lives” are the safest lives one can live in this country.  So why do you think the panic button is being pushed?
In the US, whites accounted for roughly half at 321 deaths and blacks followed with 174. However, blacks were twice more likely than whites to be unarmed when killed by the police, According to “The Counted” a running report produced by The Guardian.  Of the 102 unarmed Americans killed between January and May, 15% were white, compared with 31.9% for blacks and 25.4% for Hispanics and Latinos.
Black men accounted for 30 percent of the unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the US population! You do the math...the analysis shows that Black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed.

Though 19 law officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty by a suspect this year, including Memphis police officer Sean Bolton who died a couple of weeks ago after a routine traffic stop, it is an absurdity for Americans to be expected to hold police in high regard and beyond reproach when Black people live undeniable experiences of police brutality, corruption and graft in our communities at the hands of police; yet Black experiences are dismissed by mainstream - white - America. This trend of decades continues even today. Video shot by bystanders or captured on police camera, meanwhile, has served in some cases to undermine trust in police. We’ve been telling the story for years, but again, poo-pooed by our fellow Americans.

So far this year, three officers (hardly enough) have been charged with crimes after fatally shooting unarmed Black men. All three were caught on video. Think of how many aren’t - and haven’t been - captured by video? One - the April shooting of Eric Harris in Tulsa - appears to have been an accident. But in the other two, the footage contradicted the officer’s initial account of what happened. The Samuel DuBose shooting in Cincinnati comes to mind. Yes, police lie too! It’s just that we, as Americans, are conditioned to believe the police.

I should know…two Knoxville police testified - and lied - at my 2008 trial. Their testimony, if not challenged and exposed as lies, could’ve netted me a 42-year mandatory minimum sentence. There was no DNA evidence for what I was tried for, so I would’ve been there, right, wrong or indifferent. Instead I was acquitted at trial. I was one of the lucky ones…and I don’t even believe in luck!

Police are being killed in ambushes and confrontations of late. I don’t know if these perpetrators are "Manchurian candidates" or what, but I do know they are the martyrs for the voice of Black Americans who want fairness, justice and equality under the law. Yes, Black Lives [do] Matter. If the theory of one police life were to equal 1,000 Black lives, then all would be "even Steven," but it doesn’t and it isn’t. Every life is valuable and should be dignified. Police must stop killing Black men or funeral florists will remain busy beavers for the next few years. Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere
that currently owns the FCC license for WOOK-LP 103.1FM/ His latest book,
Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1, chronicles his ‘behind bars’ activism that extricated him from a 42-year sentence and is now case law. He is also the author of As A Condition of Your Freedom: A Guide to Self-Redemption From Societal Oppression, Mr. Redd also hosts a radio show, Socially Speaking, from his Washington, DC studio. Contact Mr. Redd and BC.

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David A. Love, JD
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