Commentary

Getting justice for Mike Brown, Ferguson and victims of police killings nationwide

nyc mike brown-ferguson protest federal offices 3One of the more popular chants that sounds more like a mantra is “never again” each time an unarmed Black man is killed by the police.

The chant has begun to sound more like a hollow threat because an unending barrage of bullets are being fired on us by those who are supposed to protect and to serve. We march, we pray, we protest and sometimes in our righteous anger we loot and burn. But the killing goes on as if it is business as usual and as if our protests are falling on deaf ears. If these events were happening in any country that is in opposition to key areas of American foreign policy they would be characterized as “state sponsored terrorism.” It would be a fitting characterization because police departments and their personnel are agents of the state and these acts of killing unarmed citizens of a numerical and racial minority group could easily be seen as acts of terror perpetuated by the state against them. We are at a critical time in our history and it is past time for us to figure out a way to end this senseless race-based killing.

St. Louis may be the turning point. For whatever reason it seems that people of good will; Black, white and others have had enough and they are no longer willing to protest a few days and then go back to business as usual. The ongoing protest in Ferguson, Mo., New York, California, Seattle and towns and cities nation and even worldwide have gotten the nation’s attention and even the attention of foreign governments and leaders. So did Occupy Wall Street and when the occupy movement had run its course I don’t know that anything had or has changed.

I have a suggestion that if implemented may bring results.

It seems as if the only thing this system respects is money and the effect on their money that organized action can bring to their bottom line. When Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala. in 1957 it sparked a bus boycott that crippled the transportation in that southern city and brought about the desegregation of the system. It is time we put a new twist on an old strategy. Several nights a week the major television networks broadcast numerous police shows, from “Cops,” “Law and Order,” “Blue Bloods,” “First 48,” “Cold Case,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Criminal Minds,” “Chicago PD,” “NCIS” to “CSI Miami,” “CSI Las Vegas” and CSI everywhere else it seems. ABC and NBC have their own unique versions of who-done-it police shows including “Dateline” and “20/20.” We are constantly bombarded with the creative investigative tools and scientific evidence and techniques that the big city police forces use to solve crimes of all sorts with special emphasis being placed on murder.

I have watched “Dateline” on numerous occasions and the episodes seem to always deal with murder. Seldom if ever are there any witnesses to the crimes. “Dateline” is based on real life events. I have yet to see the focus of solving the crimes based on begging the communities where the crimes were committed for information or for witnesses to come forward. Nevertheless the crimes are always solved. They are solved based on good police investigative work and competent prosecution once a suspect is identified.

In my opinion it is a slap in the face and pouring salt in the wounds of our community when we are made to think that the reason murders are not being solved is because we don’t come forth with information and that we are following a “no snitch” code community wide. At the same time they show us on network television every week and maybe everyday what the police agencies are capable of when it comes to solving crimes in the larger communities.

As it relates to police murdering of unarmed Black men and beating of Black women, I suggest that we as a nation of justice seeking, moral, honorable and ethical men and women of all races ask that anytime a police officer is involved in the killing of a citizen of any community that that officer be put on administrative leave without pay until the investigation is complete. The way the system operates at this point it can be argued that they are being rewarded for killing us. They are put on leave, with pay. They are never found to have commented an unnecessary killing; it’s always ruled justifiable homicide when it comes to the shooting of unarmed Black men.

Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This includes the police. If they lived under a stated policy of being suspended without pay until an investigation was completed it would do two things. It would make many police officers slower to react with deadly force when confronted with Black men that they may fear and or distain. Secondly, it will speed up the investigative processes. The system will take into account the financial suffering or setbacks to the police officers involved in these shootings and will act in a quicker manner out of solidarity to the policemen involved. Even if they are only without a regular paycheck for two weeks or a month it will cause damage to them financially as well as damage to their family relationships and community relationships. It will say that killing citizens is no longer an accepted practice that will go unnoticed.

I believe all the police shows on television are making mockery of our communities when the local police departments can’t solve a crime without our doing most of the leg work. So my unorthodox suggestion to put pressure on the system is for us by the millions to turn the channel whenever a police show come on. These shows depend on advertisers spending money to get their products before the consuming public. They say that Black people watch more hours of television than any other racial group(s). If we turn the channel at the proper time the Nielsen ratings people who rate the numbers of viewers for these shows will notice a drop and the advertising dollars for these shows will take a hit. It will take time. It will take commitment. It will take concerted effort. It will take sacrificing. It will take the raising of consciences throughout our communities on a nationwide basis. It may take a year or more but once the system (networks, advertisers) realizes what we are doing, a conversation will start as to how to bring some satisfaction to these lost viewers. There can be a ripple effect down the chain to the political class that the money corporate class controls. The political class controls the police departments and has power to force change in this institution. In the end we would and do have the potential to determine the kinds of shows that we and our children are exposed to. We can force a major change in police tactics by refusing to participate in the mockery of these crime shows on television.

We don’t need to make any noise. We don’t have to hold a march or make a speech. We don’t have to do a thing but become more conscience of our position in society and our potential to exert power in this society by hitting at the purse strings of major advertisers on the most powerful tool that wields the most influence over the largest segments of society. This would need to be a grassroots effort … churches, mosques, community organizations, neighborhood organizations, school groups, fraternity and sorority organizations, motorcycle clubs, social clubs etc., joining in to spread the word and encourage it’s members to hold fast to the ban. This will need to be talked about continuously, deeply understood by all, explained in language that is simple and easy to understand.

It is a question of morality. How and why do we support these shows that mock us in reality? Our children die every day and they tell us they can’t find the killer because we believe in some stupid no snitch code. Then the ones who tell us the lies are themselves murdering our sons and uncles and fathers in the street in front of witnesses and on live video. It’s like they are paid to get away with murder.

This does not need to be the only option we exercise but I believe it will be an effective one if we put it into play. There has to be an economic impact to our dissatisfaction if we are to receive justice from this system that seems to hold Black life in so little regard.

December 17, 2014
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