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BrooklynBornThis blog started in my head when I listened in the 90's to friends who feared Brooklyn and newcomers who blogged about BK as if it barely existed before they arrived. Brooklyn as Tabula Rasa. My blog satisfies my need to hear and air feelings of B'klyn from the people whose life experience was born here. Also I hope to provide balance to some of the revisionist historical musings I've seen how Brooklyn and her residents used to be, we're still here. If we can all live as best possible while appreciating the past and neighbors we've inherited that would be great too.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Despite Us Being American: after Michael Brown Jr. & too many more

Eric Garner's murder saddened me as it has many. As a person of color, as a person who has men that resemble Eric in my family. As a tax payer and American, his murder brought me so much sadness it took two weeks for me to write what I thought was a concise and useful post about it.

Then Micheal Brown Jr. an unarmed 18year old was killed in Ferguson, MO. by a police officer, shot six times, dead. It's been a week of me mostly avoiding that story for a variety of reasons.

Finally I wrote this, and my point if you want a headline, is it's not simply the shooting, the death, the tragedy of how people are viewed that has and continues to disturb me, it's that when these tragedies occur, the aftermath says as much about how people of color are considered in America if not more than the entire situation.

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"Despite Us Being American"


He said "I will fight for your right to protest" and I could feel the tears forming.

I don't know why I chose finally watching Ferguson/Michael Brown Murder news reports to be tonight's insomnia activity.

One of the clips I saw was Capt. Ron Johnson the solidly build African-American head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who was shoehorned into this situation and seems to have been elected for his ability to sit exactly between a rock (the historically disenfranchised community of African-Americans) and the hard place(the Police in Ferguson who as a group have largely deflected the law).
Capt. Johnson started with an apology to Michael Brown's family, speaking in uniform as a member of law enforcement in that state. But you know got me, what gave me pause?
When Capt. Johnson said to the parishioners ,"I'll protect your right to protest" my eyes watered up. I had to stop watching and wonder if I was just going to start bawling flat out.
If you haven't watched all these black people, not just in the last two months, or two years but since lets just say the last twenty or thirty years, watching all these black and brown people, (Oscar Grant, Patrick Dorismond, Timothy Stansbury Jr., Anthony BaezAmadou Diallo, Eric Garnermany of whom haven't committed a crime, several who committed misdemeanors or were caught in situations where they didn't know they were interacting with police, be killed by law enforcement. If you haven't witnessed that through the life of a black, brown or some other variation of "Other" person, then in some ways frankly you're lucky.

Lucky to know you're a citizen of a country that can't get enough talking about Freedom and almost always feels an obligation to protect yours. Do you who are not visually "other" have to interact with assholes despite being an American? Of course. Do you wonder if the government is not trying to take advantage or misuse your tax dollars, despite your not being an "other" american? Yes of course. There's lots of concerns. But usually law enforcement doesn't target you. If someone in law enforcement does target you, you have options, you can seek and expect justice, mistreatment of you will most always only go so far.

That's what hurts. The cop who shot a kid he'd probably never met ten minutes earlier is all kinds of idiot. But the entire police force felt it justifiable to back that idiot. That's a big part of being "other" usually Black as in this case and most cases. The police backed the murder, the victim was Black.That's the full on injustice. It's the same damned injustice. Even with a deep tan in the white house. The injustice starts with the precept that an unarmed, (very possibly innocent) brown skinned male is deserving of gun violence. It's an idea promoted across american society and embraced by law enforcement. Then the injustice continues when the officer of the law kills that black male without (we now know) knowing anything about this male. Then the injustice reaches full voice in the chorus of systematic American racism, when those in charge of the Ferguson Police force decide to back the murder. It starts with a racial history and the ideas that come out of it. But to understand the crime, for friends of those who don't, understand a police officer made very bad decisions, over reacted, killed a person he knew nothing about, and then the Police force decided to do everything it could including leaking false information in public media, to protect the murder.

That's what happened.

When the Highway Patrol officer told the congregation "I'll protect your right to protest" they erupted in cheers. CHEERS. Capt, Ron Johnson didn't promise to get justice (he can't alone) he didn't promise to hunt down the murderer (who's not been charged and was allowed to leave the state) he didn't promise to end racism and bias. He said he'll defend the crowd's American rights, and the people cheered. If you’re anything people refer to as “Black” you know this already. You’ve lived this, near and from afar but always as a member of the group not able to get equal treatment under our law. If you aren’t what people call "Black", or married, parented, bonded, brothered and sistered in some authentic way to someone considered as Black, I’m laying this out for you. The crowd cheered, at a member of law enforcement who resembles us, saying that he’ll simply do his job so we could simply have our right to say we’re terribly sad and upset, without us having to fear those we pay to protect us.

Because that's not something we're used to from American police forces, despite us being American.