Just another boogeyman
18th March 2013 · 0 Comments
By Edmund W. Lewis
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane. It’s another Black boogeyman! More powerful than 40 ounces of St. Ides Malt Liquor or a bottle of Hypnotiq, faster than Paris Hilton on a Saturday night, able to snatch 10 purses in a single swipe. Actually, it’s every Black man in America.
I’m sure you know me, I’m the boogeyman. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not the one K.C. from K.C. & The Sunshine Band used to sing about in the 1970s. I’m the one that has been known to send a shiver up the spines of people I have never met and the one who gets blamed for everything from the rise in American violence to the mortgage crisis to underachieving U.S. schools.
I’ve been known to run around getting virtuous women pregnant, shoot anything and everything that wears the colors red or blue, and commit every imaginable crime. I’m the one who was accused of killing Boston resident Charles Stuart’s wife and unborn child as well as South Carolina resident Susan Smith’s two beautiful children more than a decade ago. I was also wrongfully convicted in the violent rape of a Central Park (New York) jogger two decades ago, as well as the murder of a white man near the Port of Call restaurant in New Orleans in 1995. District attorneys and police chiefs see nothing wrong with framing and railroading me in America’s halls of injustice because I was born guilty. Guilty, after all, is just another word for “n-gger.”
I’m the brother that makes you cling more tightly to your purse and cross the street when you see my silhouette coming down the street with a gangsta limp. I’m the cat in the parking lot with his derby tilted to the side who makes you double-check those car door locks just in case… If at all possible, you should avoid leaving your home at night because I’m usually lurking behind every tree or standing in the shadows waiting to pounce on you like the thug I be.
Whether we choose to admit it or not, America is still scared to death of Black men in 2013. And why are Americans afraid of Black men? Essence magazine asked that question more than a decade ago and got some pretty interesting answers. One white gentleman said he feared Black men because “they are so much more physical and athletic than white men.” Another white male said that Black men are so angry and full of rage that whites don’t know when they’re going to explode and hurt someone (Hard to argue with that…). Still another person interviewed said that every day he looks at the news and sees nothing but violent acts committed by Black men.
Well, just for the record there are a few white men who have committed some pretty violent acts as well. Let’s see, there’s Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer whose favorite dish was barbecued Black folks. There’s Charles Manson, who was killing at will long before the creation of gangsta rap or BET. There’s the LAPD, who beat Rodney King like he was a piñata filled with doughnuts. There was Ted Bundy. No explanation necessary. There’s Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber who killed 168 Americans of all races and ages because he was upset with the government’s handling of the Waco incident in 1993. There were also the teenage Colorado gunmen who slaughtered 12 of their classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999 before taking their own lives.
Was I the only one who noticed that Timothy McVeigh wasn’t painted by mainstream media to look half as bad as Orenthal James Simpson? Anyone who knows me knows that I am no fan of O.J., but what’s love got to do with it? Fair is fair. O.J. was accused and acquitted of murdering two people in Los Angeles; an unapologetic Timothy McVeigh was tried and convicted of deliberately killing 168 men, women and children in an Oklahoma City federal building. Still, even before his infamous murder trial began, mainstream media fanned the flamed of racial hatred and divisiveness, and judging from the opinions of many white people more than a decade later, it worked.
By the way, why was the entire O.J. trial televised when the nation only got snippets from the Oklahoma City bombing trial? White Americans nearly lost their minds after learning that the predominantly Black Los Angeles jury found O.J. innocent. They ran around all over the nation screaming that there was no justice in America. Interestingly, many of these same white Americans couldn’t understand why Blacks were furious after seeing the LAPD get away with beating and pummeling Rodney King, even though video footage clearly showed that these cops were beating a handcuffed (i.e. helpless) man.
You better believe that the image of several cops wailing on a handcuffed Black man is deeply burned into the psyche of every Black man in America. Black men know that if it happened to Rodney King, it could happen to any Black man in America. As some brothers pointed out, when it comes to racist, trigger-happy cops, it doesn’t matter if you’re Rodney King or Martin Luther King Jr.
The list of Black men, women and children brutalized and murdered by cops continues to grow and includes Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Sean Bell, Eleanor Bumpers, Kim Groves, Levon Jones and Steven Hawkins, a Black man who was shot in the head by an off-duty cop just minutes after he was carjacked in the Lower Ninth Ward in 2000.
After seven cops fatally shot two unarmed Black men — Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, and James Brissette, 19 — on the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans just days after Hurricane Katrina, a crowd of mostly white people and fellow cops cheered for them and held signs calling them “heroes” when they turned themselves in.
Then there was Robert Davis, a retired educator beaten by cops in the French Quarter in October 2005. His crime: Going out to buy a pack of cigarettes at night. Although police said he was publicly intoxicated, the 64-year-old man says he hadn’t had a drink in 25 years.
New Orleans resident Adolph Grimes III’s name was added to that list on New Year’s Day. His only crime appears to have been sitting in a car that cops say resembled a vehicle they were looking for. He was shot 14 times, with 12 of those bullets entering his body from behind.
That same day, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the head at point-blank range by an Oakland transit cop while lying face down after a fight on a train that involved a group of men. While some might argue that Grant got what he deserved for getting into a fight, I would point out that young white men all over America get into fights every day and live to tell their children and grandchildren about it.
Very few New Orleanians are comforted by the fact that the Feds say they are investigating the incident because very little has been done when the Feds investigated other cases like those of Robert Davis in the French Quarter, Levon Jones, the Black college student from Georgia murdered by four white French Quarter bouncers while cops stood by and did nothing, and the Danziger Bridge incident. Cops convicted of an assortment of charges in the Danziger and Henry Glover murder cases are getting new trials and refuse to accept responsibility for murdering unarmed Black people.
Even after the cops in the Danziger, Glover and Robair cases were convicted and the DOJ announced that it was investigating the NOPD, the men and women in blue essentially told the Feds to bring it on and made no secret of their plans to undermine the DOJ’s efforts to reform the NOPD. Thus far, the cops have done a bang-up job of doing precisely that. After last year’s scathing report blasting the NOPD for a litany of human rights and constitutional violations, the cops went out and murdered two more unarmed Black men, Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen, last year. Both men were 20. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu did his part by praising the cops involved in the shooting of Earl Sipp and the killing of Justin Sipp and calling them — you guessed it — “heroes.” Adding insult to injury, plainclothes state police and a NOPD officer racially profiled two Black teenagers in the French Quarter on Feb. 10, 2013 for the unpardonable sin of standing around in the 700 block of Conti Street after a Carnival parade.
In the midst of all of this madness, Mayor Mitch Landrieu is attempting to do away with the DOJ-mandated NOPD consent decree, arguing that the police department can reform itself without any help from the Feds even thought the NOPD, city or the local justice system could not summon the will to even charge the cops involved in the Danziger Bridge massacre and the murder of Henry Glover with murder and the NOPD has yet to file a report on what happened to 17-year-old Sidney Newman and 18-year-old Ferdinand Hunt in the French Quarter on Feb. 10, 2013. A ranking officer in the NOPD’s 8th District did look at footage of the incident which was caught on a crime camera and concluded that the cops involved did nothing wrong.
Eight days earlier, Jefferson Parish deputies racially have apparently profiled and assaulted three Black teenagers from Destrehan High School who were attending the Krewe of Caesar parade in Metairie, Ricky Jefferson, Joe Sharpe and David Sampson Jr. Sampson is an honor roll student with a 3.6 grade point average who recently scored a very impressive 32 on the ACT exam and has already received an armful of academic and athletic scholarship offers.
Not only are the JP deputies denying that they did anything wrong, they actually arrested the three young men and charged them with a number of offenses, including battery on a police officer. Sampson has a pre-trial hearing set for Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Jefferson Parish.
When it comes to cops, it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a Black, white, brown or yellow officer. When someone is shot by cops, the men and women in blue close ranks quickly and honor a code of silence that serves them well but does very little to promote justice or community respect for law enforcement.
This article originally published in the March 18, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.