Black & Blue


i. Philando Castile (July 6, 2016)


In the livestreamed Facebook video

       his fiancee reports from the passenger

seat that “police just shot my boyfriend for no

       apparent reason.” Her 4 year old daughter


squirms in the back. Pulled over for a broken

       taillight, Castile told the officer he had

a permit for his concealed weapon,

       & now blood scrawls its inscrutable maps


on his white T as he peers emptily

       upward. “Please don’t tell me this, Lord,”

his girlfriend pleads. “Please, officer, don’t tell me

       you just did this to him.” Outside now, officers


draw guns, order her to her knees. From where it lies,

her dropped cell catches a uniform-blue sky.



ii. Alton Sterling (July 5, 2016)


The parking lot of the Triple S

       Food Mart in Baton Rouge: Sterling is selling

CDs & DVDs (he was known locally as

       “CD Man”). The grainy but telling


cellphone video of the shooting, posted

       online by a witness, shows officers

tackling Sterling onto a car’s hood

       & rolling him to the pavement, where


they pin him beneath the car’s front bumper.

       Two gun shots, & the bystander drops his cell,

panning his car’s the zebra skin seats. Three more

       shots fired. The officers’ body cameras “fell


off” during the incident, but “the officers feel they

were completely justified,” according to the DA.



iii. Walter Scott (April 4, 2015)


Scott, a 50-year-old forklift operator

        who happened to be studying massage

therapy, was stopped one night for

       a broken brake light. A bystander’s cell footage


showed the officer chasing the unarmed

       Scott to a lot behind a pawn shop

where he pulled out his gun & fired,

       from just 15 feet away, eight shots


at Scott’s back. According to the coroner’s

       report Scott was struck five times: once in the upper

buttocks, three in the back, & once on an ear.

       The officer, claiming he feared for


his life, handcuffed the dying man. Some cops

who don’t see brake lights don’t know when to stop.



iv. Tamir Rice (November 22, 2014)


A caller reported a black male sitting

       on a swing in the park of a Cleveland

recd center, the black male pointing

       a gun at people, though the caller said


twice that the gun was “probably fake.” A

       surveillance video showed Rice on

the grounds, pacing the park, waving the replica

       gun when a patrol car sped across the lawn


& skidded to a stop. The two officers

       reported that Rice reached toward his

waistband. One officer leaped out of the car

       & in two seconds shot the twelve-year-old Rice


from 10 feet away. The toy gun had been lent

to him minutes before by a friend.



v. Laquan McDonald (October 20, 2014)


The grainy dash cam video

       from the police’s cruiser shows the 17- 

year-old McDonald holding a 3-inch knife, shows

       officers confronting McDonald, then


shows McDonald walking away after

       several commands to drop the knife. In 15

seconds he was shot 16 times. An officer,

       ten feet away, used the maximum capacity


of his semi-automatic, though McDonald

       fell to the ground immediately

after the first shot. The officer had

       been on the scene for less than 30


seconds. This is restraint: he didn’t shoot for

the first six seconds after exiting his car.



vi. Jonathan Ferrell (September 14, 2013)


After an accident in North Carolina

       late one fall night, Ferrell, a former

defensive back on Florida

       A&M’s team, stepped out of his car


& approached some houses, knocking on doors

       for help. Three officers arrived at the scene

after reports of a possible burglar.

       When Ferrell tried to approach them, one


of the officers fired a taser & missed.

       Another then opened fire on Ferrell,

landing no less than ten shots on his

       body. A stranger ringing your bell


might not be the most typical of your

nights, but most burglars don’t knock on your door.



vii. Anonymous & Anonymous (between 1882 & 1930)


In 48 years in the states of Florida,

       & Tennessee, & Arkansas,

Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia

       Mississippi, & Louisiana,


Alabama, & South Carolina (just

       ten states) 2,500 African

Americans were lynched, an average of almost

       one hanging per week. (Lynch law: punishment


without a trial.) Some of the cited reasons:

       trying to vote, being homeless, injuring

livestock, looking suspicious, throwing stones,

       practicing spirituality, being


too loud, gambling. Nothing is new. You

know this: nothing’s ever new. We must make things new.

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