Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ain't a damned thing holy going on in the "Holy City" for Black folk

" be a Negro in this country, and to be relatively conscious -- is to be in a rage almost all the time."

James Baldwin
And rage is exactly what I felt as I scrolled through my Blog List late Tuesday night and came upon this headline at the PINAC site:  South Carolina Cop Arrested for Murder After Video Shows Him Shooting Man in Back.  I clicked on the link and when I got to the second paragraph, I was horrified to find -- this had happened in my own hometown (depending on traffic, a mere 10-15 minutes from where I now live)!

Scrolling through to the end as I sat on the couch with the husband in Florida (my plans to go back to The Gambia this Spring having been sidelined by the IRS, I drove down to see him just to recharge after nearly a year in South Carolina), I said, "Man, look at this shit!!!"  He inched closer, and with our mouths agape, we both watched this:

I counted each report of the firearm to myself as Walter Scott ran away from his murderer.  I could not believe I was seeing this -- on video.  Heart racing and body shaking, I unleashed a trail of epithets (too numerous and w-a-ay too vulgar to repeat here, I assure you).  The husband joined in with his own WTFs, as he snaked his arm around me, pulling me into him.  Though I wished I was home to be a part of whatever had to come after this killing, I was glad I was wrapped up "in the temple of my familiar."

He slowly dozed off, but I couldn't sleep.

As I felt his breathing slow (interspersed with a snort here and there indicating the beginning of a snore-fest), thoughts about the homesickness that had drawn me back to Charleston nearly a year ago by mutual agreement, coupled with the June 20 murder of Denzel Curnell by one of those "Blacks in Blue" less than a month after I'd moved in (particularly those "three missing minutes" from the surveillance tape finally released by the Charleston PD) kept pestering me. I went searching for the initial accounts of what had happened, starting with The Post and Courier, the local  paper of record, and found this: Man shot and killed by North Charleston police officer after traffic stop; SLED investigating:
SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed that SLED agents interviewed witnesses and gathered evidence at the scene.“We are investigating the shooting incident itself,” Berry said. “That is the normal protocol whenever there is an officer-involved shooting. ... Once we complete that portion of the investigation, the agents will write up the case file and present it to the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and someone from that office will determine whether charges should be filed in connection with the shooting.”

James Johnson, president of the local chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, alluded to the officer-involved deaths in Missouri and New York that spurred the “black lives matter” movement when he spoke with reporters at the scene of the violence. He urged the North Charleston community to wait for the conclusion of SLED’s investigation before protesting in the wake of the death.

“I don’t want this to become another Ferguson,” he said, referring to the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Three things in the piece worried me immediately: SLED, Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network -- neither of the three worked out for the Curnell family.

Then I followed the link in the PINAC post to another Post and Courier piece: Day after officer’s arrest, video of shooting death sparks protests, more action:
Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston chapter of the NAACP, said communication between neighborhood leaders and police commanders had improved since Chief Jon Zumalt left the department in early 2013. But the community’s relationship with the department’s rank-and-file members was still strained, he said.

“There has been a good conversation at the top,” Bryant said. “But nothing has changed at the bottom level.”

Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement late Tuesday that the shooting “is not acceptable” and not indicative of how most officers in the state act.

“This is a sad time for everyone in South Carolina,” she said. “I urge everyone to work together to help our community heal.”
Why do I get the "Massa, we's sick" feeling from the NAACP guy?  Does he honestly believe the problem is solely "at the bottom level?"  And, given Haley's low people in high places performance during the Baby Veronica, child-trafficking-is-good-for-white-folk case, her statement is ludicrous on its face. She obviously could care less about "community healing" -- although, given her use of $9,355.96 of SC taxpayer money to dispatch two deputies and a SLED agent to Oklahoma, she does know a little about how officers in the state act.

And a little further in, we (not unexpectedly, at least to me) we find this:
Two people filed complaints against Slager during his time with the force, including one man who said the policeman shot him with a Taser for no reason in September 2013. Internal investigators exonerated the officer of any wrongdoing, though the suspect in that case was never arrested.
According to this:  "Documents released by the force show there was one complaint in January 2015 involving failure to file a police report was sustained — though it was unclear what disciplinary action Slager faced, if any...Slager was cleared of another complaint regarding use of force. In that case, a man alleged Slager had used his Taser for no reason and slammed him to the ground in September 2013.  The officer was exonerated upon investigation, documents from the North Charleston Police Department show."

See, this is why I believe in Citizens Review Boards -- because  Internal Affairs is nothing but the fox guarding the henhouse!!  The police get to police the police with no real accountability to the citizens they supposedly serve.
Pastor Thomas Dixon, a community activist, said that he is concerned about outsiders coming into the community to incite violence. He said the outcry of anger so often ends up “tearing down our communities,” and emotions should be diverted to something more constructive than violence.

“Good people get caught up with crazy people,” he said. “The smart reaction is to just gather and peacefully let your voice be heard without any foolishness or craziness.” (emphasis mine)
Careful there Pastor, your words eerily echo those used against Dr. King and the SCLC during both the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Selma -- and I'm sure you recall what he had to say to his fellow clergyman like you about that in his, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."  Read it at your leisure, however,  here's a little bit of it to chew on:
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. (emphasis mine)

Unlike Pastor Dixon, I proudly and humbly thank the younguns in the struggle today for their  fire this time -- would that plenty more "outsiders," who really get the soul-crushing inhumanity that has, and continues to happen in Charleston, show up in solidarity as they have all over these alleged United States. Until they do, please listen to my beautiful, young sister, Ms. Lauryn Hill explain the plethora of reasons for those "outcries of anger" with her, Black Rage (sketch) below:

Now comes the Mayor's press conference:

There are many point-by-point thoughts I could make about this press conference, but I won't, because I'm tired and it just feels like, "Y'all just need to shut the hell up.  We've fired him, charged him with murder -- what else do you want?!"

But I will say this, all I see it as, is an opportunity for both the mayor as well as the Chief to totally shut down the Black Lives Matter activists -- as if this problem has not been, and still is, an ongoing, far-reaching, INSTITUTIONALIZED and SYSTEMIC one!!  Well, this Salon piece totally debunks that idea, offering a mere smidgen of what's been going on in Charleston just over the last 15 years!  Please do check it out, Family.

However, it seems Mr. Scott's family was relieved at the mayor's announcement.  But I don't think they've bought it all hook, line and sinker -- and they shouldn't. Take a listen:

I didn't know why, but Bobby Blue Bland's song's been playing non-stop in my head since I started writing this post.  Now I know -- I needed to dedicate it to the Scott family, with my sincerest condolences for the brutal, senseless loss, forced upon them by a white supremacist officer in a racist system.  I hope all of you can find some semblance of peace:

Family, in the words of the late, great Fannie Lou Hamer, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired" -- aren't you?

- Media Were Already Running With Police Fantasy When Video Exploded It
- Bystander who filmed Walter Scott shooting: officer 'made a bad decision'
- Walter Scott Shooting: Councilman Says Support 'Hard-Working' Officer
- Walter Scott: protesters demand justice – and an end to police discrimination
- South Carolina police officer who shot fleeing black man 'looked like he was trying to kill a deer in the woods'
- GoFundMe rejects campaign to support officer in fatal N. Charleston shooting
- Walter Scott: Another Senseless Killing Of A Black By Police

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