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The Black Commentator - The Black Commentator - Student Writers’ Corner - 31+11+4+3+1 = 50 Shots of Rage!

To suggest that the “Not Guilty” verdict, rendered by Judge Arthur Cooperman, was relatively startling, is to be completely un-learned of the history that has masked the colorful catastrophe of Police Brutality in America. Police brutality in the U.S.A stretches far back to the late 1800’s; with incidents such as “The Great Railroad Strike of 1877” and “The Pullman strike of 1894,” validating its well-detailed resume. It can also be said that the legal enslavement of Africans in America is an unmitigated show of “law-enforcement” belligerence. This reality satisfies our thirst of chronology, but delivers no substantive elucidation to the crisis of legalized and uncontested black mutilation. Chocolate cities like New York and Chicago are filled with the ineradicable blood of innocent Black/Brown citizens. Police Officers in these districts often achieve inexpugnable status that inevitably corrupts and inebriates their understanding of humanity. One is reminded of this tragedy, when the names: Sean Bell, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, Mumia Abu Jamal, Dhoruba Bin Wahad, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are resurrected from the graveyards of indignation.

To see the story of the unarmed Sean Bell, virtually unmentioned by the mainstream media, is a reminder of the perceived worthlessness of Black life and the apathy directed toward it. This display of disinterest or forgetfulness echoes a concern by acclaimed Georgetown Professor, Michael Eric Dyson, who once stated that, in fact, the acronym of this country stands for “The United States of Amnesia.” Elaborating, he said “What is too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.” Such a response to the indefensible incineration of Black life is a deep reminder of the stagnancy if not regression toward which this nation has moved vis-à-vis the calamity of race, despite the blather and rhetoric of ambitious politicians. It is profoundly saddening to note that this phenomenon of Justifiable Homicides have become commonplace and are arguably expected within some quarters of the Black Experience in America.

On April 27, 1962, police officers despoiled the Nation of Islam Mosque in Los Angeles, wounding seven unarmed Muslims including a Korean Vet who was left dead. Following this, then Nation of Islam Minister, Malcolm X, felt provoked to address the misfortune at a rally, proclaiming:

“This black man was shot through the heart by Police men, and they are dumb enough to think we have forgotten it. Well, a Muslim never forgets. You don't kill our brother! We don't ever forget! You don't shoot one of us and then grin in our face. You don't shoot one of us and then shake our hands and think we'd forget it. No, we never forget, we'll never forget…I'm telling you, the only way you get justice is in the street. The only way you get justice is in the sidewalk. The only way you get justice is when you make justice for yourself!”

It is unfortunate that this tragic incident, while unique, cannot be perceived with shock, due to its recurrence in our society. Journalist and activist, Kevin Powell, in response to the verdict wrote, “few of us realized that the powers-that-be in New York City have come to anticipate our reactions to matters like the Sean Bell tragedy: we get upset and become very emotional; we scream "No Justice! No Peace!"; we march, rally, and protest; we call the police and mayor all kinds of names and demand their resignations; we vow that this killing will be the last; and we will wait until the next tragedy hits, then this whole horrible cycle begins anew.”

It is also unequivocal, that certain police officers have relied on the mercies of paranoia and suspicion while by all accounts taking matters into their gun-toting hands. Such exhibition of “official” skepticism is licensed with actual cases of police shooting episodes in response to the possession of combs, brushes, wallets, spatulas and TV remotes by the purportedly armed-and-dangerous citizens. Sean Bell and his companions were not brandishing weapons. They made the tragic error of being empty-handed as the 5 policemen fired 50 rounds in their direction The familiar element in these misfortunes is the Black face, which has recently taken up the task of being synonymous with Intent for Criminality. Such an existence some say, is not worthy of passive opposition. Kevin Powell continued on his blog post with the following, “until Black and Latino people, the two communities most likely to suffer at the hands of police brutality and misconduct, refuse to accept the half-baked leadership we've been given for nearly forty years now, and start to question what is really going on behind the scenes with the handshakes, the eyewinks, the head nods, and the backroom deals at the expense of our lives, this systemic racism, this police misconduct, these kinds of miscarriages of justice, will never end.”

This reality is one we must confront with utmost honesty and objectivity. Some fundamental steps must be taken before the obliteration of our people by unnecessary Black Death is attained. Some of which include, a dynamical support for incarcerated political prisoners, and assistance to those exploited by the so-called criminal justice system. Most black people are under the illusion that a Barack Obama presidency nullifies the nearing-fascist-state of America, but such self-deceit is what accounts for the fair-weather abetment handed to the Bell family. Ask yourself this question. If it we’re you, what would you demand from your people and the assailants alike? WE MUST DO unto others as we would love to be done unto. It is after all, the golden principle. Guest Student Commentator, Tolu Olorunda, is an 18-year-old local activist/writer and a Nigerian immigrant. Click here to reach Tolu Olorunda.

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May 1, 2008
Issue 275

is published every Thursday

Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
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