A Tale of Two “Rough Rides”

JamesByrdJr.
James Byrd, Jr.

Rough ride #1: On June 7th, 1998 James Bryd, Jr. was the victim of an unthinkably brutal, hate-motivated murder. A gang of white supremacists–a modern-day lynch mob–chained him to the back of their truck and dragged him for three and a half miles until his arm was severed and he was decapitated by a culvert. One of his murderers was executed in 2011. Another was given life in prison. The third has a death sentence on hold pending appeal.

Freddie Gray
Freddie Gray

Rough ride #2: On April 19, 2015 Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. died in police custody following an illegal arrest. He was not afforded even a modicum of the most basic respect for human life and compassion by his executioners. His cries for vital medical attention fell on deaf ears as he was subjected to a state-sanctioned “rough ride” that severed his spine. Six officers now face charges in his death. (As an aside, could you imagine them facing charges if the people hadn’t risen up in rebellion in Baltimore? I doubt it.)

Media reports have revealed that “rough ride” tactics are a commonplace for law enforcement across the country. Black men are still without sanctuary in this country. Freddie Gray’s killers must face the consequences of their murderous actions.

A Dream Deferred, 2015

Deferred… no longer

I.

Invaded,
Assaulted,
Corralled,
Shackled,
Kidnapped.

Dehumanized,
Crammed,
Shipped,
Enslaved,
Exploited.

“Freed”,
Indentured,
Tricked,
Caricatured,
Betrayed.

Lynched,
Targeted,
Humiliated,
Demeaned,
Railroaded.

Profiled,
Slandered,
Patronized,
Marginalized,
Brutalized.

Stopped,
Frisked,
Bullied,
Clubbed,
Incarcerated.

Scapegoated,
Feared,
Hunted,
Shot,
Murdered.

II.

Unbroken,
Inspiring,
Beautiful,
Hopeful,
Determined.

Empowered,
Enlightened,
Enraged,
Exuberant,
Righteous.

Expectant,
Motivated,
Fierce,
Inspired,
Creative.

Followed,
Revered,
Emulated,
Adored,
Celebrated.

Marketed,
Re-branded,
Spun,
Portrayed,
Stereotyped.

Watched,
Heard,
Misrepresented,
Misunderstood,
Underestimated.

Resilient,
Resistant,
Rising,
No longer…
Deferred.

For Charly Leundeu Keunang aka Charley Saturmin Robinet aka Brother Africa

A beautiful human being lost his life here! Homeless lives matter! Jail the killer cops!

Does a rose by any other name not smell as sweet?

Does a person that goes by another name cease to be a child of Mother Earth?

What do the words “serve” and “protect” mean?

serve: to be a servant, a person who is devoted to or guided by something
protect: to keep (someone or something) from being harmed, lost, etc.

No excuses.

If you’re charged with serving and protecting the people,
you put your own life on the line every day for them.
You’re devoted to the people.
You’re guided by your commitment to their well-being.
Your mission is to keep them from harm.
All of them. Period.

Yet, so many fall at the hands of the police.
So many served nothing more than a volley of bullets.
So many robbed of protection, and life.
So many stripped of their humanity.

Brother Africa was a fellow human being.
He’ll never be replaced.
He’ll never see his chance to shine on the silver screen.
He’ll never set foot back in his native Cameroon,
feel the African sun on his hopeful face.
Never again will friends and loved ones
bask in the majesty of his humanity.

Some of us never knew you,
but we won’t forget you.
And those who did will carry
those indelible marks,
only you could leave.

Farewell, Brother Africa!

dk

People paying their respects.

p.s. — This was my humble attempt to speak poetically to this tragedy. Countless others have done so much more effectively and beautifully than I can muster. Here’s a link to a magnificently damning collection of poems I found at the Black & Blue blog:
https://policeviolence.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/poetryaboutpoliceviolencefinal.pdf

And just to whet the appetite, here are a couple pieces I’ve cut and pasted from the collection:

Southern Cop
By Sterling Brown

Let us forgive Ty Kendricks.
The place was Darktown. He was young.
His nerves were jittery. The day was hot.
The Negro ran out of the alley.
And so Ty shot.

Let us understand Ty Kendricks.
The Negro must have been dangerous.
Because he ran;
And here was a rookie with a chance
To prove himself a man.

Let us condone Ty Kendricks
If we cannot decorate.
When he found what the Negro was running for,
It was too late;
And all we can say for the Negro is
It was unfortunate.

Let us pity Ty Kendricks.
He has been through enough,
Standing there, his big gun smoking,
Rabbit-scared, alone,
Having to hear the wenches wail
And the dying Negro moan.

*****

Black Power
(For All the Beautiful Black Panthers East)
By Nikki Giovanni

But the whole thing is a miracle – See?

We were just standing there
talking – not touching or smoking
Pot
When this cop told
Tyrone
Move along buddy – take your whores
outa here

And this tremendous growl
From out of nowhere
Pounced on him

Nobody to this very day
Can explain
How it happened

And none of the zoos or circuses
Within fifty miles
Had reported
A panther
Missing

Race Matters? White Cop Who Killed Black Man During Hurricane Katrina Acquitted

Oh, hell, no! This is not that lie about “a policeman’s worst nightmare, that split-second decision”. This is the real nightmare lived by people of color daily, constantly criminalized, brutalized and killed by cops who aren’t making split-second decisions, but acting in accordance with the institution they represent. And in case there’s any doubt, the (in)justice system is there to back them up… time and again, legitimizing the murder of the innocent. Ya basta!

Bossip

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