Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bad Boy Bad Boy What You Gonna Do

What you gonna do when they come for you? Yes the COPS theme song needed to be reprised for this post. If you follow this often enough, you know I tend to rely on the New York Times for procrastination and leisure reading, as well as keeping up with what's going on in the world (although there are much better publications for world news).

In the waker of the non-guilty Sean Bell verdict, the New York Times has gotten over the shock that black people in New York are not all the same, and produced an article on some of the work of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. The organization, which is reportedly critical of the NYPD and the justice system, hosts a variety of events including one that teaches young black and hispanic youth how to respond to officers in certain situations. Events like this are great and help to reduce situations where cops are aggravated or fearful for their life. Indeed, in the fear inducing fear of the police officer, there are times when their adrenaline rushes.

Still, as great as it is for non for profit organizations to provide services like this, there must be a greater change in law enforcement itself. Too much of this country's history has been of people learning how to respond to unfair situations, and not enough of it has been truly evaluating situations and looking for ways to improve.

In the chance that you have not already figured out that you should allow cops to punk you, not mention a possible possession of a firearm, and in general just be courteous, people are around to inform you of ways to keep yourself protected. And just in case you are not able to attend one of the sessions by 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, just peep this Chris Rock clip. He's a black man from the BK, he knows what's up.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

OH EMM GEE: The Negroes arent All Rioting...and even more...

...they have different opinions.
Hey world. bet you didnt expect to hear from me twice today.

Yes I'm still angry about Sean Bell verdict, but we shall see what hppens in the other avenues..at least a little disciplinary action. Making me angrier is news coverage of the reaction to the verdict. Stories released after the verdict yesterday all made it appear that the only response to a situation like this was a riot. Various accounts reported the surprise that there was no riot...or "no riot as of yet." What a conundrum? To think, people do not treat every case as if it was Rodney King all over again. Surprise Surprise.

Now, the New York Times is reporting that there is a plethora of views amongst the black community in the wake of the situation. Really? Who wouldathunk it? Spread the news black people are not all a monolith. They have different views on different situations.

At least they got one thing down right with this editorial.

Sean Bell Shooting: Anger

Want to kill a black man and get away scotch free? Come, join the Po Po of the NYPD!

The verdict in the Sean Bell Shooting has finally been reached, and all the officers have been let off scotch free. Commisioner Ray Kelly has said that there is still a possibility of disciplinary action from the NYPD for the officers, but he is waiting to see if there is a federal case.

Very few things make me angry. This has. In a manner almost akin to cops constantly ignoring OJ Simpson's domestic abuse calls, the NYPD has gotten away with police brutality too often and too often this deals with a young black male. From Abner Louima to Amadou Diallo to Patrick Dorismond, the NYPD at times operates like a playing ground for those who want to participate in legalized lynching. This is not an indictment against all police officers...I've met a few friendly ones, but something beyond sensitivity training has to be done.

Further complicating all the issues in this latest case is that two of the officers are black (at least phenotypically, the Latino claim may be made as a random judging based solely on names). However, that does not let the NYPD off the chain. This is still a case of a man unfairly shot and for whom the presiding judge claims there is no prove that the force was unnecessary. Since when is 50 shots ever necessary?

I dont have much more to say. Any interested party can google and peep any newspaper of worth. They are bound to have written about it and the suprise that there is no riot as of yet.

I leave you with a long piece. My sophomore year of college we had to produce a work of protest for my protest literature class. I wrote "The Police Brutality Monologues." They're rough and from the mind of an 18 year old girl on a deadline and needing a good grade. But they're honest and I even tried to give the police a voice and make the story univeral to all races to please my teachers (and in the rare chance that I ever see any of this used anywhere without my permission I will sue).

America: Home of the Brave, Land of the Free-Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor, your landless masses...Crowd them on a boat, push them on a Boeing747, watch them hop over metal wires at guarded border lines and then pack them in this city. Keep pushing them in, come on, there’s room for all. This apple never stops growing. It just keeps getting bigger and redder, and browner and blacker and more yellow. By the minute people are pouring in from China, India, Ecuador, Haiti, Cuba, the former USSR block, Nigeria, Senegal, Jamaica, Japan, even Down South… you name the place. There’s an ethnic enclave in New York mimicking it. Go join them in Flatbush, Chinatown, Sunset Park, Washington Heights, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Flushing, Jackson Heights, South Bronx and the Lower East Side .They’re invited to come and join their friends, family, long gone acquaintances in an insomniac city, a place that never sleeps, probably more out of fear than any desire to party. A place where they can be gainfully employed illegally in sweatshops, sewing t-shirts for tomorrow’s boutique ; a place where they can work bodegas and street stands selling fake purses and hot dogs all without urinating for the twelve hours that they stand and get thrown around from pillow to post for not following zoning laws. They can ride the train, drive a taxi, run a dollar van, and wait in the cold rain without a shed for a bus that comes erratically all in this city. Come, come, come they purr. The city’s a prostitute ready to whore herself out to anyone that dears to enter. Look, the Irish and Italians have done so well… join us in this rotting hell.
But what they won’t tell you in their mindless propaganda, that when you come, you belong to them- the men in the blue with the shiny silver badges. Be careful once in a while they will put on jeans and t-shirts and drive unidentified cars just to confuse you. If you want to really get by in this town, you just have to make sure you don’t cross them. I’d say follow the Irish and Italian and German’s model, but that’s not so easy for all of you. Maybe the Russians can pull through, but for the rest of you, there will be a big problem you have to face, and quite bluntly it has to do with your race. If not you, then your brother, or uncle, or nephew, or cousin, but most definitely one of your sons will understand. You see the men in blue have the power to stop you. Stop you in your endeavor to build your own business, in your attempt to take a peaceful Sunday drive, stop you while you’re playing with your friends. Why, you ask. Well (turns to make sure no one is looking), there’s this little thing called racial profiling. It’s not only the police, who use it, it happens in other places like schools, jobs…everywhere. It’s an issue to be faced. I could have lied to you about it, but that would just be wrong. Wait, still come, I’m inviting you. I want you here, come with me on a journey through the streets. You see there is a lot of promise for you here and so much you can achieve, you just have to watch your back….They’ll show you what I mean.

Every one, their story…..
(In any foreign accent, the emphasis here is on the universality) Me, me and my family, we come here. We only want to make “betta” life for ourselves. We see on the TV all the people smiling and the kids going to school and getting good education. It all look very promising. It make everything look so simple. If, I and my husband get good job, the kids go to school for free, they will have the better life and then they can take care of us. No, that’s not how it really works. Part of the story is true. I tell you, one minute…..
Dios ayudame, ah que Dios nos ayude. (Spanish)
He was my son, my firstborn, only son. I remember when he was little, he used to do this thing where…okay, so envision this, a little baby boy lying on his back. Right? Then he would grasp onto his toe and pull his leg backward. Then he would put his toe in his mouth. Maybe, maybe you had to be there in order to fully enjoy the experience. He was so adorable.
Nyame ei! Bua yen. M'Awuarde bua me, me pa wo kyew (Akan- Ghanaian language)
When we moved out to America the rules were very clear. My husband and I had to work very hard in order to keep living a decent life. The kids needed clothes and books and pens for school. We had to eat, so we had to buy food. There were train rides to take into consideration. The list was endless, so my husband and I worked from sunup to sundown. The children went to school and were to come straight home, do homework, heat up dinner when it was time, and study. The 2 oldest girls never really got to make too many friends or do any of those after school activities because they had to watch the younger ones. I knew that sometimes they would play outside a bit. I was not stupid, but they were good kids. A little play would not kill their studies, so I never punished them. They were bringing home straight A’s, the other families in our neighborhood were from the same country as us, and held the same ideals, so they were not being destroyed. It was just clean fun, and the idea of them being cooped up in that tiny apartment all the time saddened me so much. I had to let them go out.
Bon dye, tan pi, edem! (Haitian Creole)
The way my daughters tell it, they let him play outside with the kids from the building next door, without any older person watching them. They figured they were good kids, and since the parents knew each other it would be fine. They were just going to play a little ball game right outside. The girls could look out from the window and call him in when they thought he was out for too long. My little boy was such a good boy, he was on the honor list and the teachers were trying to get him into a special summer program. Apparently the ball hit the window of this pharmacy across the street. The lady in there, well she did not really care for our kind or our kids…she yelled at them. According to the little boy next door, they apologized and went back to playing. The ball hit the window again. The lady was very angry. Everyone on the street said they heard her yelling at the kids, calling them all sorts of names. She called the cops on them. She called the police on my little boy.
Tian-ah, qin bang wo men (Chinese)
They came. They told the boys to give up the ball and to go find their families. The youngest one of the group started protesting. The ball was his Christmas gift from his family, it was all he got. He was not going to give his ball up. The police then pushed them all against the wall, and handcuffed them. My little boy, he got straight A’s in school, he went to service each weekend, what could he have done to get handcuffed. He resisted. We always told him to stand up for himself, just never thought he would have to use it in a situation like this. He resisted, and became the example. What’s unnerving is that he was already an example; other parents wanted their kids to be like him. How much more of an example did he have to be for anyone? The police officer then took his baton and hit him over the head three times. He screamed at him, called him a dirty little immigrant. My son, the same little boy who put his foot in his mouth as a baby did it again this time, and he was killed because of it! Now you see, the cop has his own family to go back to, his own wife and kids. Nobody beats them in the street. No one calls them dirty and yells epithets at them. Maybe, if we lived in a better neighborhood there could have been a playground for my little boy. But no, we did not have the luxuries of the cop, so he saw it fit to take my son away from us. It was not right, but it would teach a lesson. A lesson for who, for what, why? They told me that in this country hard work paid off. He was going to be a doctor and take care of us. My daughters were going to get good jobs too, but we placed our faith in him. It does not make sense. I do not understand any of it. .
Esho reshicanae (Malyalam- South Indian dialect)
I don’t hate the cops, no that would take way too much of a toll on our lives. I just want justice to be served. I met up with some other women whose children were hurt, or killed, because of police brutality. We started protesting. We got some things accomplished. The police officer who killed my son got placed in jail for five years- not because of anything related to my son- but the fact that he is doing some kind of time is relieving. Our movement is beginning to get noticed too. We got out there in front of City Hall, and we told that mayor that what he allowed to slip by unnoticed was wrong. We got an agreement to help solve the problem out of him. It still hurts though. Sometimes at night, I just lie there. I start to think, and oh….

Dear God, help me, dear God help us all.

DWB (performed while slouching in a chair)

Yo, you know what DWB is? Never heard of it? Really, I get in trouble for it all the time. Hmmm, wait, ok you watched the Fresh Prince right, c’mon everyone watched the Fresh Prince. Well, there was this one episode where Will and Carlton were driving, and then they got pulled over. Yada, yada, yada…Will and Carlton argue about why it happened. Carlton was almost certain that they were pulled over for driving too slow. Will, was just like nah man, it’s because we were DWB. Still don’t get it?
Driving While Black, or Brown, whichever way you want to look at it. It’s so problematic. Day after day, either me or one of my boys gets in trouble for it. See, it’s not just the fact that you’re driving. That would be too extra, a bit too far down the range. The Klan just don’t walk around in their hoods no more, and it would be basically taking it back in time to stop a black or Hispanic man just because he was driving. The term needs a bit of tweaking. It should be called DWBIANC: d-w- bianc! Driving while black or brown in a nice car. Yea, that’s more like it. I really don’t know what the problem is. You chose your profession, I chose mine. You get a funky little white car with Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect written across it. I push an Escalade. If you wanted to ride around in a Benz all day, then maybe you should not have become a police officer. Smell me? No worries though, I have faith in the justice system.
Most of my friends drive pricier cars also. We call ourselves the Hottt Ridaz. Chris got a Navigator, Booboo got a Denali and well Mike-Mike got himself a bus pass and a girl who’ll lend him her Maybach. So you know, we think we fly when we be jus straight cruising , checking out our old neighborhoods, buying groceries, you know doing what normal people do. But there’s always this one problem, some cop stay pulling one of us over, on some “Can I see your license and registration “ tip. Man, that piece of paper must have the fingerprints of over a hundred cops on it by now. And it’s not just in New York. You ever heard of the New Jersey Turnpike. Yo, they pull some real crazy bull over there. But it’s pointless, cus’ none of us was ever doing wrong. How often you think they pull over a little white boy from over by Sheepshead driving a Hummer? I see them driving by all the time, even saw one of the pushing some illegal medicine. Catch my drift? Now, I ain’t trying to say that white boys don’t get arrested. They do, you know I have faith in the justice system. But it’s just a shame.
Ooh, another thing, they mad sexist in how they do it too. Black or Brown women are allowed to have nice cars. My aunt told me this story about how she was driving and got pulled over. She’s one of those empowered women with a low cut hairstyle. She happened to have a cap on that day, though, so you really couldn’t see the hair. It was winter so she was rocking a down jacket. And my aunt is stupid tall for a chick. So the officer pulls her over, and approaches her and is like excuse me sir. She looks up at him and he’s all flabbergasted and what not. He starts apologizing profusely and lets her go, talking some crap about how she fit some profile of a dude. She just smiled at him, and said “I bet both of us are happy we’re not Black or Hispanic men.” She then just drove off. My aunt’s also a bit crazy..
Wait, I almost lost the point to me talking to you. So this one time, I was pulled out of the car, had to assume the position, and they patted me down and everything. The cop tried to search my trunk for drugs. I tried to get him to stop, but I know better than to fight the police. After standing there, doing nothing, I asked the officer why I was pulled over. He told me face to face that they had to be a little suspicious whenever they saw one of us driving a nice car. Usually it meant that we were drug dealers. I laughed, hard. He looked at me, like what’s so funny. You see, the thing is I work at the District Attorney’s office. Yea, yea, I’m a lawyer, graduated in the top of my class, trying to do big things. So I believe in the justice system, it’s just funny when it fails me. My friends all have not decent, but fantastic jobs. I’m talking about lawyers, doctors, TV writers, investment bankers. But anytime we dress down, throw on some sweats and a cap or anything like that, we become a stereotype. We gotta get stopped, pulled over, harassed, slammed against walls, and then let go with a warning. Sometimes, it gets treated like a joke, but it really is not that funny. It’s illegal for one, but it’s just another way for systemic racism to be institutionalized and passed on. That’s no joke. Cases like Miranda v. Arizona may try to change the system. But telling me I have the right to remain silent will not make anything better. So I’m going to empower you. You have to right to make as much noise as you want. Write it, take pictures of it, and scream against this cruelty. It’s beyond ridiculous. I should not have to deal with it, and you don’t want to. Everything you say can and will be used to break down the tyranny of this system. I do not have time for bull in my life, I’m pretty sure you don’t either.

Police Officer (pacing back and forth in police strut)
I’m a good guy. You have to believe me. Really, would any heartless bum grow up and decide to become a police officer? I’m the one there when women are abused, when your house gets robbed, when drug dealers invade your neighborhood. Really, look at me; do I look evil to you? I help out at the local Y when I am off duty, play basketball with kids, help some of the poor practice for their G.E.D. I’m a good guy.
There was this one time when I was called because this little kid had locked himself out of his house. It really was a fireman’s job, and they usually are the first ones on the scene. It was weird, but whatever. I just stayed there and comforted the little boy until his family came back. No sweat off my back. That was the best call I ever got. I got to play with him and talk. I helped him with his homework. He told me all about his favorite action heroes and brought me up to date on all the comic book characters I loved as a kid. At the end of the night, he told me I was his hero. That was the best part of it all. I became a little boy’s hero just for keeping him company. He told me how on TV he had seen bad stuff about cops, but he did not believe any of it at all. Oh no, not now that I was here. I was the good cop that changed everything. That was a good day.
Oh, wait, I’m sorry. Is this yours? Yea, it dropped from the audience. This is a real show, I realize I’m not acting out some fake scene or anything; I’m just here, talking to you guys about my experience as a cop. I need to erase this myth that all cops are bad guys. My buddy Joe for example, there is nothing bad on his record. He even had families of those he regretfully arrested send him personal thank you notes. He would actually keep in touch with some of the people found guilty. You know, make sure that when they got shipped off to prison that they did all right for themselves, took some classes, and did a little extra work to make some money. I wanted to be like Joe. I would see him talking to the guys on the corner, and I wanted to be like him. You see, I come from a cop family. My dad was a cop, as was his dad as was his. It’s tradition in my family to be a cop. I always heard stories about how- you know, my family helped people, kept neighborhoods clean.
(Points to projected image.) Yea, see that, that’s not how my family operated as cops. We were New York’s Finest, not like any of those racist southerners or people who harassed non whites just for fun. Everyone was equal in our book, everyone…
Now you see, there are some bad cops. Cops who didn’t give a … oh, wait there are kids in the audience. There are cops who did not care about anything; cops who decided on their own that not everyone’s life was worth the same value. This one guy I got put on the beat with, he told me all sorts of things. Statistically it made sense, but I just couldn’t buy it wholesale. Kept talking about how blacks and Latinos were the reason that the crime rate was so high in the city. They were the ones who were brining the drugs into all these neighborhoods, and then they robbed in order to get money to buy the drugs, and killed if they were not paid for the drugs. He was always talking about this stuff and using all sorts of numbers. I don’t remember the exact figures, but they were high. I really did not believe them though. He was just ridiculous with his insistence though. We picked up so many more people when I was on beat with him than I did at any other time in my career. He used to laugh at me and call me hippie, because I would not join him on his rants, or mistreat anyone either. I just had them assume the position; I read them the Miranda Rights, cuffed them and took them to booking. On a day to day basis we really were not in that much danger. I know they like to make it seem like cops are in danger all the time, but really think about it. How often do you walk down the street safely? How often do you see a cop just hanging around? Not to demean my own, but really the job is not all that serious.
So, like I said before, I’m a good guy. But even good guys have trying times. One day I got sent to a new neighborhood. I didn’t know the guys around there. They looked like the usual type though, guys from hardworking families, kinda like my own. I had a two block area to work, so I just kept walking around. One of my buddies was working the same area, so every couple of hours we would bump into each other. Around 5, I got a call on my radio. I was go to an apartment three blocks down and help out with some form of interference. Since it was a nice day, I figured it was just some kids. When I arrived, there was a man; around 23 years in age, 5’11 inches tall, 195 pounds, black, little twists in his hair…well that was the police description. Apparently he had a gun on him, or so the other officers claimed. They just kept screaming at the poor guy. I figured they needed a calm, cool, rational guy to go in there and talk to him, A guy, kinda like myself. I could solve this I told them. I walked up to my new friend and asked if he had a gun. He kind of just shook his head. I told him I was going to walk him through the process slowly, and that he should put his hands over his head. He would not do it. I asked him to do it again, he just looked at me. There was a bulge in his pocket. I understood why they thought it was a gun, but I was not sure, and I did not jump to any conclusions. I motioned for him to come towards me, he did. He started to put his hands in his pockets though.
Flash, everything changed. What are you doing? I yelled at him. Take your hands out of your pocket and over your head now! He just looked at me and continued fiddling in his pocket. It was going to be my life or his. I shot. I don’t know what came over me. I really did not have a solid justifiable reason to do it. He disobeyed orders, but who was he really threatening. Anyone who rationalized the situation could tell that that was not a gun in his pocket. But he fit a description of someone who held up the local supermarket a few days before, and then…
When I found out who this mystery man was, it made sense. He was a new immigrant. In his country they had to show a pass to army men in order to cross different zones. He was reaching for his wallet. I mean, we’ve all seen a man with a wallet in his pants before. We do not go on random shooting sprees each time we do. But he looked like he could be part of that percentage, you know, the black men who….
I’m a good guy though. I never wanted to be one of those officers who participated in police brutality or racial profiling or the like, but there was no good reason for what I did to this man. I deserved to be hanged. How could I still be anyone’s hero? How could I go home and look at my own son. The scary part is I became a hero to some. Other cops in my precinct started giving me more respect. No one filed a report citing me for racism. My lieutenant even told me he could get the judge to write my case off. Nope, this cop was not going to go to jail for it. I just…

These were general stories of general lives. Lives now destroyed by two brothers. Racial profiling and police brutality travel hand in hand. One brother picks a victim, the other brother hurts him. Sometimes it comes to death, often it’s just a smack, a hit, a blow to the body and the ego. It’s a way to emasculate those around you and subtly build up yourself. It’s a way to keep the jail statistics disproportional, because hey, if you keep arresting minorities, of course there will be a higher rate of them incarcerated. My friend, this can happen anywhere: in your home, in front of your home, at your place of worship, near your job, on the train. Oh and don’t think that the two brothers are Siamese twins. They go out on there own at times, striking at those who may have done wrong, but often in just unfair ways. Remember the Muslim man that became a terrorist, when he really was doing normal, regular, everyday Wall Street embezzlement of funds. What about that Dominican kid that forever has a scar straight down his face now, all because he was caught jumping a turnstile? Things in this city sure are strange. No matter how often mothers go to court to fight, and Al Sharpton stages a wide protest, this will never be over. There will always be something else, another battle to fight. Christine Whitman did not want to recognize it in Jersey, LA did not want to deal with it with Rodney King, and Giuliani- well he just took that all in and turned New York City in to a police state. Soon singing, “I shot the sheriff,” might be all that’s necessary to send a person straight to jail. Just remember you can’t pass GO and do not collect your two hundred dollars. In this city, where money is everything and no one can survive on love, your aspirations for money may be what get you in trouble in the first place. Watch the African man on 34th Street run with his bags and watches. No one believed they were real, so what’s the point of harassing him. Look at the Indian man who has to push his hot dog cart blocks away, and be relegated to a desolate area because the neighborhood is going to be gentrified. Stare as the Chinese man who hides his Chinatown specials. If the police catch any of them, off to jail they go, taking their money from them, shoving them, in front of impressionable young children who do not know what to do. But they are the future, our future, the ones who are gonna make a better place, so let’s give them something to look forward to. You can make a difference. Yes, you, so please, come, come to this city.