Same as it ever was?

There was a great commotion in the streets, which, especially since it was a spring day, involved many people, including running, frightened, little boys. They were running from the police. Other people, in windows, left their windows, in terror of the police because the police had their guns out, and were aiming the guns at the roofs. Then the salesman noticed that two of the policemen were beating up a kid: “So I spoke up and asked them, ‘why are you beating him like that?’ Police jump up and start swinging on me. He put the gun on me and said, ‘get over there.’ I said, ‘what for?’ ”

An unwise question. Three of the policemen beat up the salesman in the streets. Then they took the young salesman, whose hands had been handcuffed behind his back, along with four others, much younger than the salesman, who were handcuffed in the same way, to the police station. There: “About thirty-five I’d say came into the room, and started beating, punching us in the jaw, in the stomach, in the chest, beating us with a padded club—spit on us, call us niggers, dogs, animals—they call us dogs and animals when I don’t see why we are the dogs and animals the way they are beating us. Like they beat me they beat the other kids and the elderly fellow. They throw him almost through one of the radiators. I thought he was dead over there.”

This is an excerpt from A Report from Occupied Territory, an article that James Baldwin wrote for The Nation in 1966 about an incident in Harlem 1964. It sounds so familiar.

So depressingly familiar

We have to stop this madness. People are having conversations about the larger issues like poverty, economic inequality, and broken families. They say those are the root causes and we need to address the root causes. Applause all around.

Except where the pain is

Addressing the root cause will not happen without the help and attention of the victims of this out of control system. And, we won’t get that attention until we address the pain. The immediate pain. And what is that?

Stop the unjustified killing of Black men by representatives of government

Until that happens, the people in West Baltimore, and everywhere else in this country where Black men feel like they are being hunted by the Thin Blue Line, are going to find it difficult to focus on the academic discussion about what ails them. They know what ails them NOW.

Too often, it wears blue

Eliot

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