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Est. April 5, 2002
October 01, 2015 - Issue 623

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Tap Dancing on Our Graves

"How often do we hear police dismiss the video
when it’s processed as evidence for the prosecution?
In those instances, police, typically launch a harassment
blitz against the owners of the recording."

Have you ever seen a sad tap dance routine? Sure, you may have seen a sad tap dancer, but you can’t truly recall a sad tap dance. I’d dare to say that the happy, frolicking, celebratory art form is what happens every time another policeman is exonerated—by law enforcement authorities—before “we the people” get our due process when they beat, maim, assault, shoot and/or kill one of us. Yes, they’re tap dancing on our graves.

Sure, I want to elaborate, on a case-by-case basis, the injustices of police-induced killings, but that would bore you to death. Though that might be a better option than being shot to death, it would not serve my purpose in talking to you right now. I will, though illuminate the American insanity of illusory deception and revisionist history that continues to infect the general public. Don’t get me wrong, the establishment and social justice activists have been in a tug-of-war for “hearts and minds” for some time now, but the purveyors of government-sanctioned murder have many tools in their toolbox, including (but limited to) sports, entertainment and threats of force.

I’ll posit to you the fatal police shooting of wheelchair-bound suspect, Jeremy McDole, on September 23rd. Mr. Dole was killed when police responded to a call saying that a man was suffering from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound. Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings (who, for the record, is a Black male) said he's watched the video and believes the officers acted professionally. A .38-caliber handgun was recovered, he said, which the police connected to McDole. The officers shot someone who exhibited no—I say again, no—threat toward them.

Regardless of what he had in his hand or what he might have intended to do, the police were wrong for killing him. Just watch the video and I’ll say that again too—watch the video.

We, the American public, watched the video released by the Fairfax County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department (after concealing it for months despite increasingly heavy public pressure), of an internal police force killing a Black woman…and you know what? There will be no criminal charges resulting from the death of Natasha McKenna, the mentally ill Black woman who died in last February after Fairfax County sheriff’s deputies shot her four times with a Taser stun gun in a protracted struggle at the Fairfax County jail.

Let me say this: Ms. McKenna should be deemed a prophet, because her last words clearly predicted the outcome of these murderers who entered her cell and extracted her from it. She said, “You promised you wouldn’t kill me,” as the sheriff’s personnel entered her cell. The Fairfax County law enforcers hid the video and refused to share it with the victim’s family. Then, to add insult to this injury, the Fairfax Coroner’s Office labeled the cause of death a case of “Excited Delirium.” What the hell is that? Who do you know ever died from that! Is that what happens when a 75-year old man dies while having sex with an 18-year old girl? Look, The American Psychiatric Association doesn’t even recognize “Excited Delirium” as a diagnosed condition! We know what she died of: the existence of white men! Just watch the video (I told you I’d say that again).

Yes, the video recorder, the cell phone camera and social media have slowed the tap dance, but police are still tap dancing—on our graves! After the incident, the same thing happens again and again.

I’ll share with you the incident of a video posted on Facebook that sparked a use of force investigation in Fairfax County and now police are saying the incident was lawful and appropriate. The police weren’t going to investigate a damned thing at first! Then, once they did, they deemed tasering a man—in the back, while both of his hands were on the car—was “appropriate!” The video shows a police officer and Elton Cansler next to a car. The officer has a weapon drawn. Then, Cansler hits the ground and you see him roll over. The officer is standing over him with the weapon (I’d say the officer’s just short of tap dancin’). Mr. Cansler didn’t hit the ground from “Excited Delirium” folks, he was tased. But why?

Now, here comes the illusory deception part. The police chief said when the suspect was tased, he was— reaching for his pockets, where he had a six-inch folding knife. But when you watch the video (yes, I said ‘watch the video’ again), Mr. Cansler reaches for nothing but a car hood! Once again, the police get away with (glad this one wasn’t murder) brutalizing yet another American citizen, in this case, another Black man.

And watch this: Just like the case of Eric Garner in New York, who was murdered by police chokehold, hundreds of thousands of we the people witnessed that murder on video, yet, the police told us, you’re not seeing what you’re seeing. Interestingly, how often do we hear police dismiss the video when it’s processed as evidence for the prosecution? In those instances, police, typically launch a harassment blitz against the owners of the recording.

Returning to the matter of the wheelchair-bound Delaware man, last week, his mother was arrested and charged with assault and for threatening a woman she believed placed a 911 call to police telling them her son had shot himself. Phyllis McDole , age 48, of Wilmington, surrendered to city police and was released on $10,000 bail (unreasonable bail: another attack on poor people). She was charged with second-degree burglary, terroristic threatening, third-degree assault and third-degree conspiracy. Just another diversionary tactic that keeps the police in a “safe zone”…a zone safe for tap dancing.

If not for the videos of Freddie Gray in Baltimore or Michael Brown in Ferguson, we wouldn’t have had the undisputable proof that served as the impetus and justification for immediate hell-raising and demands for justice. But every week, a new incident arises that clearly demonstrates that we’re under attack by the white, male establishment—a clear contradiction to the U.S. Constitution. I demand Equal Protection Under the Law. I also demand the tap dancing stop. No more “on leave with pay” while police investigate themselves. No more hiding the identities of the police killer. No disrespect to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, but time to stop the police from “Bojangling” on our graves. 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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