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Archive for the tag “police brutality”

The Blacks and Blues

“…we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So…we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.” — Jesse Williams

My curiosity made me do it. My head rested on the small of Jermar’s back while I read and circled and scribbled in the margins of a friend’s manuscript, I only half listened to whatever video Jermar watched on social media. But, in the next moments, I fully heard his sigh, felt his body heave and recognized the sorrow in his voice when he said damn, another black man shot by the police…this time is really bad. 

I had to ask him three times, each instance more urgent, before he reluctantly handed me his phone while quietly advising me against watching the video.

I watched the first 30 seconds, un-phased by the imagery as I’d seen it before on the video with the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island concrete; I’d seen it before when Officer Casebolt wrangled baby girl’s bikini-clad body to the ground and sat atop her like she was a rabid Rottweiler; I’d seen it this summer in St. Louis as I slowed my car to watch black boys with tank tops and shoulder length dreadlocks being roughly mishandled for whatever latest sin in addition to their skin they’d committed against society.

In those first 30 seconds I was numb because of Black Lives Matter protests, because of election year rhetoric, because of biased media, because of community violence, rank ass gun laws, local news, family matters, wedding planning, checkbook balancing, what to pack for lunch tomorrow morning…

But somewhere between 31 seconds and the end of the video, Alton Sterling is shot while on the ground beneath two police officers.

A woman in the background– I imagined her initially defiantly videotaping the scene, talking shit as she filmed it–  is now grief stricken, horrified, crying and screaming in angst and disbelief as she has just watched in real time what she’d perhaps previously only seen on tv.

I had to catch my breath along with her. I got out of bed and paced the floor. I felt the water well up in my eyes. I told Jermar he was right. I went to the living room and sat on the couch. I opened my computer and searched online. I saw Alton’s big brown face, his gold teeth, his wife and kids. I read about his criminal history, the testimonies of his friends, an account of the scene from a witness.

I thought about the black men I know, some who peddle goods for a living, others who are coming or have already returned home from prison, their gold teeth and round brown faces. I felt the sadness and frustration rise up within me once again.

Don’t talk to me about justice or peace. Don’t tell me to be “this mad” about the violence that is perpetrated in our community—I am already angry about that. Don’t point your finger at this man, Alton Sterling, and tell me that he didn’t deserve the same chance to live and love and work and care for his children that a gun toting, shit talking, big, ole white man would have had.

White privilege is knowing that for all of the inappropriate, disgusting and downright unlawful shit a man with blonde hair and blue eyes could do without punishment, a black man would get killed for doing half of it.

And this is domestic abuse: to be terrorized, mishandled and murdered in America by the people who are supposed to protect us. There are no other resources, no place to take shelter, no safety plans to put in place for Black people against the police. There is nowhere for us to go. All we can do is stand up and fight.


For the past couple of weeks, I have been deeply affected by the slaying of Michael Brown which happened right in the backyard of my hometown. I have followed and watched the turn of events with my stomach in knots, hoping that the fervor for justice continues in Ferguson, St. Louis and across the nation. Desirous of speaking out about this tragedy and the way Ferguson’s police force, the media and people in the community have responded, I wanted to publish a blog post about what I was feeling.

But then, one day last week, I was granted an opportunity to, once again, lead a creative writing workshop at Philadelphia FIGHT’s Institute for Community Justice. For our writing exercise, I asked participants, a group of about thirty people, most of them black men, to respond to the questions raised against police brutality and the argument that we, as a community, should first focus on “black on black” aggression. I gave the writers an option to choose from which angle to write an open letter to the community at large.

The ICJ writing group had plenty to say and I had to encourage them to put all of that excitement on paper.
They did. And then they gave me permission to edit and publish it here on LLFW. I am very excited to share this work and provide a platform for the writers of ICJ.

**Please note that while these pieces are the views of each individual writer of Philadelphia FIGHT’s Institute for Community Justice it does not necessarily represent the views of Philadelphia FIGHT, The Institute for Community Justice or the keeper of LLFW.


A Letter to My People by Sheewo
My fellow brothers and sisters, we need to wake up and realize that we are under attack. Slavery may be over by law, but it is still alive in the mind and hearts of a lot of those in power around us. Look around you. They don’t want us to succeed; they don’t want us to make it; they don’t want us to grow. They lock us away or outright kill us. They keep their foot on us and we attack each other out of anger and frustration instead of attacking the actual enemy at hand.

My black brothers and sisters, this has to stop!

We have to learn to stick together and keep each other alive. We have to take a stand and let it be known that we are worthy, that we are strong, that we possess the ability to excel past the negative stereotypes that have been stamped on us from birth. It’s time for us to raise up and fight back or they will make sure that we are exterminated. Together we are a superpower and that is why they try to destroy us.

My black brothers and sisters, it may be time for war. Our lives and freedom are still at stake.

dont shoot boys


“Gun control means using both hands in my land. We as African Americans are being hunted. We are the targets and there has never been justice on these stolen lands.”  –DINK



What is happening in our world today as a people?
Marvin Gaye would say, “What’s Goin’ On?!”
The police are killing our black people
Our kids for no reason.

If we as a people do not do something soon
Our next generation
Will be extinct.


So What He Was Unarmed –by Khalil Nurdeen Al’mu’min

I am so, so, so tired of hearing, reading or seeing that another man has been slayed by the city’s biggest and most powerful gang—the police. The crime fighters and community servants have declared an open season on us young black men, Trayvon Martin and now, Michael Brown.

Not to take away from all the other tragedies that have manifested where the genesis of the situation where young black men who engage in conflict end up sparking bullets and putting holes in our young men— black men who are fathers, sons, brothers, future leaders, freedom fighters, writers, artists.

Personally, I believe that we need to police the police and crime in our own neighborhoods. We need to take personal responsibility for our own welfare and community. Violence begets violence, and surely that is not the only alternative. I favor a healthy balance of physical might and verbal might.

Still, how does an unarmed young man get slayed by a trained crime-fighting public servant? I thought that the first order of these trained and armed professionals is to protect the public, not rob them, rape them or slay them.

By ANY and ALL Means Necessary –by C. Casey
Why not start telling women who are raped that it’s their fucking faults for wearing such sexy skirts? Why not tell the poor four-year-olds who are being molested that it’s their fucking faults for being so cute? Saying it was Michael Brown’s fault that the police killed him is the equivalent of just that.

Saying that black on black crime is something to look at is a way to divert us as a people from seeing the truth: We are now being exterminated by any means necessary– jail, plain out murder or some sort of biological warfare.

God bless Martin Luther King and what he has done, but I think Malcolm X’s spirit needs to rise again because our children and their children are in danger and we must stop this—by ANY and ALL means necessary!!!


I Don’t Trust the Cops –by Mister Man
Cops have been killing blacks for years. This young man, Mr. Brown, had his hands up in the air. Now this young man can’t go to college, can’t raise a family, he can’t wish “happy birthday” to his mom, dad, sister and brother.

We all get looks from cops all the time. They can’t be trusted. I don’t feel safe around cops and there are a lot of people who feel the same way—they don’t trust the cops.

I can’t believe they shot this young man in cold blood with no answers. Did they even apologize? Did they say they were sorry, please forgive me? Did they say, please forgive me God?

Me, myself—I don’t trust cops.


Aren’t We Bigger than “Black on Black?” –by Maurice 18
What I think about black on black crime is that it is ridiculous.
I mean everybody coming at the police for killing us—not to say that they are right—but we are killing ourselves. Every day, a black person is killing another black person.

Not to defend the police, but everyone is always coming at the cops, but we are not coming at each other. Black on black crime is the biggest stock in America and it is only going to continue to grow unless we as a people wake up. That is what we must do, “Wake Up!”

We can come together to smoke crack or weed, but we can’t come together as a people and get along with each other. Just a group of us—black people—sitting together, sharing good times without a fight or someone getting shot or stabbed.
I believe we could make that happen if we stop thinking we are better than each other.

Wake up, black people. Wake up.

W.A.R. –by Joel Batchelor

This is a declaration of war.

We are no longer able to function as a society within a society without a life-giving, cathartic battle. Frantz Fanon said that armed rebellion would do more than just free us—it would be the salve that heals the psychological scars that plague us. In other words, to go to war would be “cathartic.”

We—and I mean “Black folks”—are the only animals on this planet that will not fight an enemy that we have clearly identified. No other animal does what we do. No other animal has a known enemy that kills its members’ children and does not retaliate.

We are at war. It is high intensity, brutal and genocidal. What other examples do you need besides America’s own history? What more do you need than manifest destiny?

We are already at war.

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