And I ain’t talking about multi-vitamins. I’m talking about black men. That’s approximately how many black men were killed in the United States in 2012 by police officers, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.
One black man every 28 hours. Most of these men were unarmed and, overwhelmingly, their families never received even a modicum of justice as the killers were never held accountable.
This article provides the details of a study showing a history of police brutality in black and brown communities, as well as a move by police departments from a philosophy of “protecting the community” to a philosophy of “soldiers fighting the enemy”, where the enemy is black men.
But that was in 2012. It’s now 2014 and where do we stand? Well, without even thinking deeply about it, I count 4 young, unarmed brothers killed by the police in the past approximately 3 weeks.
Eric Garner, John Graham (alleged had a toy gun in Walmart. Still waiting for more details), Mike Brown and Ezell Ford all died at the hands of their local police.
Without regard to what has already happened in 2014, let’s look at the rest of this year. So, let’s see, 4 men killed in 3 weeks. We have approximately 20 weeks left in 2014, so according to my calculations, that means…………………………….. (hold on…..Stephen Colbert is calculating this for me…………………………………………………….)
Approximately 28 more young, black, unarmed men can expect to be killed by their local police, security guards or vigilantes before the end of the year. Are these “casualties” acceptable?
Call to action: We need a full court press on local, county and state police and government bodies to cease the “War on Black Men” coupled with a full court press at the polls. This means we must organize, march and demonstrate (I’m advocating peaceful, but persistent, unrelenting protests), and we must “occupy” city council/village board meetings, speaking during public comments to express our rage and demands that the madness stop. Our list of demands:
- The de-militarization of police departments. They must return to community policing and “protect and serve” mentality. This necessarily includes eliminating military-grade weaponry. Police are not on the battlefield. They are in neighborhoods. They are not soldiers. And our residents are not a foreign enemy. They are civilians. If you don’t like the tone and tenor of the neighborhood, then get out and build relationships with the residents.
- The immediate termination of police officers who have bought into the “war mentality”. They must go. I understand there are union contracts, but we will not allow you to hide behind those contracts to protect rogue police officers. If your police union contract does protect rogue officers, then the chief negotiator needs to go and you start fixing that stat.
- The full prosecution of officers who fail to understand they are “protect and serve” and not “suppress and attack”. These officers are oppressing and harassing people of color and killing unarmed citizens and it needs to STOP. Your local prosecutor must know that he is an elected official, and if he or she won’t prosecute these rogue officers (while disproportionately prosecuting men of color), we will exercise our voting power to send him or her into early retirement.
- We must present a united front. This is NO TIME to public engage in internal fighting. This is a war and we must come together and stop bickering with each other…and bicker instead with the enemy. All this petty bickering is a distraction that allows the “system” to continue unchecked. EXAMPLE: Stop publicly denigrating those who are looting and rioting. Yes, their behavior is unproductive and irrational. And no, I don’t condone it. But is the looting of consumer packaged goods and the burning of brick buildings any more unproductive and irrational than the police looting of black neighborhoods by harassment and oppression and killing unarmed black men? Do those goods have more value than a black man’s life? FOCUS and keep the main thing the main thing. STOP blaming victims who are channeling their rage in the wrong way.
- We must demand legislation requiring full, independent investigations of all police shootings. Minimally, all deaths at the hands of police must be independently investigated. We can no longer trust the proverbial fox to guard the hen house. Independent review is key.
- And then we must vote. En masse. Even at local elections. ESPECIALLY at local elections. Those locally elected officials have the most influence on the quality of our collective lives. Local elections are arguably even more important than national elections for that reason. We have to use every tool at our disposal. Use your social media skills to “turn up” your activism.
This obviously is not an instant process. But they have to feel pressure and know that we are watching and will not stand for it anymore. There are 28 unarmed, black men whose lives are depending on us to do something NOW.
This is the NEW civil rights movement. Civil Rights 2.0. We’ve done it once. We can do it again. TURN UP!
Please comment and add to the list of demands. We need action now.