“A Riot is the Language of the Unheard”, Anaheim & the Future of Police/Community Relations
The above quote is from Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King. Even though Dr. King was a advocate of non violence, he understood the desperation of people that have been continually denied justice. Sadly, the recent events in Anaheim, CA are just a replay of the failed state of police and community interaction. Police kill a unarmed man, the community wants answers, the police respond with no answers and heavy handed tactics and the community responds with angry protest that erupt. How would you react if police killed your unarmed friend and a few minutes later fired rubber bullets and let a police dog attack women and children? Is an angry response not justified?
When I released my recent video, “Do We Need to Start a Riot?” I was criticized by some for allegedly trying to incite violence. I had to continually remind people that I was not making a statement, but asking a question.
They keep trying to kill us
But they never get indicted
Our people crying loud
But them scared rappers stay quit
And if we don’t get justice do we need to start a riot?
I wasn’t saying, “let’s start a riot y’all!” I was asking the question, what do we have to do to get justice? Think about this in light of the fact that the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s report on the Extrajudicial Killing of Black People had to be amended to include 10 more dead, elevating the number killed in 2012 to 120 and the hashtag #every40hours had to be changed to #every36hours in the manner of one week! This doesn’t even include our brown brothers and sisters who have been killed – like Manuel Diaz in Anaheim. How many of the officers in these killings have been indicted and are serving jail time? How many have even been fired? This isn’t some new phenomenon, this has been happening for decades. At what point to we say enough is enough?
People also took issue with my other new video #10FriskCommandments , a remake of Biggie’s “10 Crack Commandments”. They felt that the “commandments” I gave were not empowering to people of color and they were 100% right. In writing the song, I was trying to show how dangerous and deadly a seemingly simple interaction with the police can be for people of color. That something as simple as running away because you’re scared, like Manual did, can result in your death. In Pittsburgh, the civil trial of the police officers that brutality beat honor student Jordan Miles is currently taking place and Jordan took the stand to tell the world about the unwarranted beating he received from 3 undercover detectives that left him so bruised his own mother didn’t recognize him. He had this exchange with the attorney for the police:
“Even though those three white men were trying to put handcuffs on you, you still thought you were being robbed and abducted?” asked an incredulous attorney James Wymard, representing Officer Sisak.
“Yes, I did,” said Mr. Miles.
“What I am saying is, it was obvious they were police officers,” Mr. Wymard said later.
“It was not obvious,” Mr. Miles said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t know of any cops that would behave in that manner.”
The biggest determent to positive police/community relations is the police never admit to being wrong. It seems in every single profession in the history of jobs people make mistakes except police. The only time you ever hear police even come close to admitting wrong is when the incident is on video. Even in the many cases where police kill unarmed men, women, and children, the police never dismiss or distance themselves from the offending officer. Often they support, raise funds for and even cheer on the officer, like the one indicted for killing Ramarley Graham. Very, very rarely does an “good officer” testify against a bad one, and if he does he’s ostracized. Isn’t it ironic that the same group that wants our community to turn in and testify against our criminals almost always refuses to do so with theirs?