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BLACK LIVES IN DANGER by Arthur Nurse

posted 19 Aug 2016, 06:14 by Gerry Kangalee
After hundreds of years of oppression during which western white civilization was developed on the backs of Africans and their descendants in the new world, the United States as the leader in that configuration, is yet to come to terms with its denial of equal treatment under the law to its black citizens.

The savage cruelties that were inflicted on blacks have not been made evident in the history of the nation that is taught in its schools. The reality that the prosperity of the country and its European allies was founded on the forced labor of African people, and the continuing denial of their human and civil rights, is hidden from the citizenry.

It is understandable, therefore, that a majority of whites in the USA can say that they had nothing to do with slavery, Jim Crow debasement, and the present unequal treatment before the law; and think that the problems of African-Americans are all of their own making.

Many irrefutable studies based on hard statistics have shown the pervasive discrimination against blacks in the areas of employment, housing, funding of schools, and in law enforcement. “The New Jim Crow” is a recent highly regarded exposition on the nationwide injustices by the “justice” system that have impacted hundreds of thousands of African-Americans. And yet the most recent polls show that a majority of whites think that all citizens are treated equally before the law.

How do you explain the black President? To my mind Obama would not have become President if Wall Street had not wrecked the global economy and the debacle of the Iraq war had not taken place. Both had to do with serious indiscretions and bad policy on the part of the politicians. Certainly Obama could not have done worse than those who preceded him.

His election brought about two notable reactions among whites. There were those who hated to see a nigger in the White House; and others who thought that the problems tied to race were now of the past. Experiences of my family members with law enforcement before and during the Obama presidency indicate to us that white bias against blacks is still very much alive. Many of us have unpleasant stories to tell. That these stories span decades indicates that not much has changed as far as the interactions of white police with blacks are concerned.

On the New Jersey Turnpike at about 5 am one summer in the early 1970’s the State Troopers - who were known to be particularly rabid against blacks - pulled over the car in which my three friends and I were traveling to Atlanta.

A car had been tailgating us with a very bright light shining into our car. Our concern turned to anxiety when the siren went on. On the shoulder of the highway they pulled the driver from behind the wheel and took the keys while shouting expletives at us. They searched inside the car and our suitcases in the trunk; told us to start walking. We stood our ground. One of the Troopers threatened to take us into the nearby cornfield and shoot us. After a while they let us go on our way. I still tend to think that maybe our Trinidadian accents saved us - less animosity against foreign niggers.

Fast forward to the mid 2000’s. My son - in his mid-twenties at the time - leaves his apartment to talk with his cousin. My nephew’s girlfriend is with him, so my son sits in the back of the car. Almost instantly the door is opened; he is pulled out and pushed up against the car by a white man in plainclothes. No word that he is a police officer. Another white man went to the driver’s side to confront my nephew who showed his badge and asked what was going on. My nephew is also a New York City police officer.

He was told that my son had come out of the apartment wearing a hoodie. This was several years before Trayvon Martin was murdered in Florida. Imagine the possible consequences if my son had fought his attacker and my nephew was not also a police officer. I should make it clear that all my sons are upstanding citizens.

For another incident where he was falsely arrested the same son sued the city and won a settlement. In that incident he was sitting
 in his car waiting for another nephew to come out of his house when white plainclothes officers in an unmarked car came along and pulled up alongside. He said that he said goodnight to them. They drove off then returned and asked if he was trying to be funny. One of them attempted to take his duffel bag which was on the seat beside him, and when he resisted he was pulled out of the car. Fortunately he has the wherewithal that he could have hired a lawyer. Tens of thousands of young black and Latino men are coerced into taking plea deals because they cannot afford adequate legal representation; and therefore unjustly end up with a criminal record.

During “Giuliani time”, when some of the worst excesses of the NY Police Department were tolerated if not encouraged by the Mayor, my sons and nephews as teenagers at the time were often harassed by the Police even though we lived in a solid middle class, low crime area of Queens. Even being asked what they were doing there while sitting on the front steps of the house in which we lived.

My nephew who is now a NYPD cop and another son were riding their bikes when they detoured onto the sidewalk to avoid two oncoming bicycle cops, who then turned around and gave them tickets for riding on the sidewalk. Another instance of “broken windows” policing as espoused by Giuliani and Bratton, who is once more the Police Commissioner. But that police indiscretion was too much for the Judge to swallow. The case was dismissed.

My eldest son - about seventeen at the time - came home one evening in tears after he had been stopped by the cops for the umpteenth time for no legitimate reason. In bewilderment he asked me if I thought it was because of the way he dressed. This was long before teenagers and young men began wearing their pants low on their butt.

It was during “Giuliani time” that the young African immigrant Amadou Diallo was gunned down in a fusillade of forty-one bullets in the vestibule of his apartment building while taking out his keys to enter the building. The white plainclothes officers said that they mistook his wallet for a gun. One hot summer night when a pre-teen black boy was gunned down in Brooklyn by a white cop, who said that he mistook his large water gun for the real thing, Giuliani’s response was to ask why the boy’s parents allowed him to be out that late.

The most abhorrent of the incidents in which one of my sons came into contact with the NYPD involved my second to last boy in his High School - Benjamin Cardozo, which had the reputation of being one of the best schools in Queens. He was there for an extra-curricular activity when the Police came and told the School Aides to round up all the black boys in the school, because a girl had reported that an electronic device had been taken from her in a snatch and run episode. (To this day my son does not know what type of device it was.)

My son and two other boys who were in the school at the time were put in a lineup so that the girl could view them from a hidden position. She picked out my son and one of the other boys as the culprits. Common sense should have informed the cops that the real culprits would not have stayed around to be arrested. The girl’s device was not found on my son or the other boy.

His mother and I were worried sick when we got a call from the NYPD - close to midnight - that they had our son in custody. This was several hours after he had been arrested, and by law they should have informed us immediately, as he was under eighteen. We rushed to the Precinct where we were told he was. When we got there they said he had been transferred to Central Booking, which meant he had to spend the night in jail.

I took the week off from work to ensure that my son was not railroaded. In speaking with the Vice-Principal he informed me that the School Administration had informed the cops and the Asst. District Attorney that my son had a good reputation in the School and was very unlikely to have been involved. Speaking with the Asst. District Attorney I informed him that my son owned a Motorola Sidekick which was much desired by the teenagers at the time; and therefore if it was a cell phone that was taken from the girl, why would he need it.

Fortunately the order to suspend my son from school until the case came to trial was rescinded. A lawyer had to be hired to defend him. About two months later when the case came to trial it was dismissed. What about parents who do not have the knowledge and resources to defend their sons? They have to stand by helplessly while they are chewed up in the maw of the “injustice system”.

If what I have described could take place in New York City, the supposed capital of the world where one would think that racially enlightened policing policies would prevail; one must wonder what it is like in the rest of the USA. If the law-abiding young men of ONE black family in New York City have had so many needless negative experiences with white police officers, what can be said of the city as a whole, and furthermore the entire country?
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