“When I was a rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime…the most important thing I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems. The most urgent and most disgraceful, the most shameful, the most tragic problem is silence.” Rabbi Joachim Prinz taken from The Cross And The Lynching Tree by James H. Cone, 2011
It is not surprising that on June 18th four Westchester County, New York officers: Christian Guitierrez, Frank Oliveri, Jose Calero and Robin Martin were cleared of civil liability in the fatal shooting of Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley. After all Mr. Ridley was Black, and that seems to be the Monopoly game version of a Get-Out-Of-Jail Free Card. Doesn’t matter if you’re an off-duty cop attempting to break up a crime, on a stroll to Seven-Eleven for a bag of Skittles, celebrating the new year on an Oakland train station, behind the door of your own White Plains apartment or out with friends in Queens the day before your wedding. Justifcation, excuses and unexplainable reasoning is the bullhorn of the day.
But why is it that way?
Blacks (with the help of some others) have been marching and protesting the brutality of law enforcement for years. Yet these acts of violence continue though very rarely, if ever, happen to White people (an interesting recently released report claims that every FBI shooting since 1993, which includes the killing 70 people and wounding 80 others, was “justified” after internal investigations were concluded). If we are all Americans governed by the same laws than why are these deaths so prevalent to one group of people?
Wait…I think I hear a pin dropping. Or more to the point it’s the sound of silence.
The civil rights organizations will dip their toes in the water, but won’t wrap their arms around the subject and tackle it to the ground. It’s virtually impossible to rely on corporate dollars for survival, have a program slot on MSNBC, or write for major media publications while at the same time dealing effectively with the Big R of Race. That is the issue here…Race, not class, not inequity, not education. It becomes a different conversation only when the distribution of these types of death changes.
You can take the example of Bronx, New York City where there has been a Black district attorney, Robert Johnson, since 1989. Yet this is an office that has ben vilified by all kinds of sources over the past few months for incompetence. But how long has this been allowed to go on? And how much does a Black leader in a mostly minority borough matter? Mind you this all is playing out years after Mr. Johnson’s decision not to personally get involved with the biggest case to date on his watch. The 1999 massacre of Amadou Diallo, by an acquitted New York City rogue police unit inside, his apartment building hallway. No community leader, elected official or constituent got the hint of “Mr. DA Just Settle” after that failure? Or did everyone turn a blind eye?
I’m a product of the 60’s, seen way too many of these cases. I have no desire to hear, read or watch the present tragedy playing out in Sanford, Florida. Stand Your Ground law has now been imprinted on the Nation’s conscience. Stop & Frisk is finally recognized for the racist police policy it always has been. However, none of that will affect the trial result down South. The ending will still be the same regardless of innocence or guilt. A 17-year-old Black boy had his life snuffed out by a punk wannabe cop with a gun.
SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD
My only child, a Black young man, turns twenty the first day in August.
“Signed…An Educated Brother!”