A Tale of Two “Rough Rides”

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.

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!


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Help get the word out about our farmworker sisters’ struggle!


I’ve come across this story through several news outlets now, and I just can’t stop thinking about how glaringly outrageous this is. The whole of our society rests upon the backs of these women. They feed you, me, us, humanity. They possess vast stores of knowledge about things without which humanity would wither on the vine. And, above all, they are human beings. Just like you and me. No different. Same family. Emerging from the same cosmos. Born of the same mother Earth (although I suspect they know her better).

Here I guess I don’t really have too much to add to the journalism that’s been done so far. But I do want to provide links to some resources, in English and Spanish, so that we can help raise awareness about this issue, and to give assistance in whatever way we see fit. You can start by reading and listening to the stories of these women. Please feel free to re-post and share with all your social networks. As the three musketeers said, “All for one, and one for all!” 🙂

The first time I heard about this was about a week ago via this NPR radio report:

Last night I picked up a copy of La Opinion bearing this cover story:

The La Opinion article highlighted this 2010 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Finally, the La Opinion article was based on the tremendous work being done by Lideres Campesinas, their website is:

* header photo credit: La Opinion Aurelia Ventura