Last night, at about 10pm, I remarked to Filthy how quiet
the block was. He responded saying that the playoffs were
on and that it isn’t unnatural for the streets to hum a bit more quietly
during that time.
I was responded with a lip smack, saying, “the kids watching
the game too?”
We were in Crown Heights. (That neighborhood is cooking like a kettle.)
At 11:31pm, I mentioned it again.
At 11:45pm the quiet was broken when I heard a woman shouting
and a man saying “Arrest me then”. Initially, I thought that he was
responding to her threats of him calling the police on her and I wrote
it off as a lovers quarrel. Then I heard the police shouting “Get the f-ck
back, all of you, get the f-ck back”.
The block was hot.
I looked out the window, and said to Filth, “Eh blood, popo has a dude out
on the ground”.
He put on his jeans and sneakers and said he would be right back.
He *Malcomed me. (more about that later). My heart started beating
incredibly fast. I couldn’t find my sandals. I threw on one of his
hoodies and a hat. There was no way I was staying in that house
not because I need to protect him, but because I needed to bear
witness to what was going on. Based on the shouting, it seemed
as if popo was a hair away from shooting someone.
I felt helpless. I felt like my legal training didn’t matter. I felt like I was 10
years old in East Oakland again. Helicopters flying, Task Force on both
ends of the block, people standing outside in their bathrobes and slippers.
I felt like I should do something. I also knew that being reactionary would
only escalate the situation.
My mind was awash with ideas. I was reminded that I had had these
experiences before as a kid and that it had been a long time since I felt the
emotions that went with it. There is nothing like it. My hands were
shaking because I felt powerless. I thought someone was going to
start shooting, po po or the block cats, and I knew that our lives
would be changed forever. I thought about God.
I had empathy for the policemen I saw, as those men were sons,
fathers, brothers. The man who was beat and arrested
is a son, father and brother as well.
Soon eight cop cars showed up. The man was hand cuffed and placed in
a police car. Two officers had an exchange with some of the
dudes on the block.
One of the dudes said, “Ya’ll don’t care about us, about our lives.
You ain’t from the hood”.
The officers responded, “Yes, we do and I am from the hood too”.
Block dude retorted, “Out of 100 of you, 5 of you are cool,
the rest are rotten apples.”
The police got into their cars and began driving away.
I went back into the foyer and began to think about Oakland, about
violence, and about hip hop.
In the past week, I have been conducting research for a piece
on Grand Theft Auto 4. Last night in the foyer I
began thinking about how much more difficult it would be for the
young men who don’t live in the hood to play Grand Theft
Auto 4 after seeing a black man, held down on his back by a
police officer, while the officer yelling “Get the f-ck back” to on
I began to think, “What if the police beat Black men in GTA 4”?
If the gamers like the real, and they want real, isn’t that the realest?
The fact that arguably 6 cars showed up, to arrest one man is indicative
of the level of fear, and NYPD’s mode of operation.
Didn’t I say mentioned a couple weeks ago that this was going to
be a long bloody summer?
*Malcom left Betty and the girls and went to Detroit to give
“The Ballot or the Bullet” in Detroit a couple of days after their
home was bombed in Queens. Filth and I frequently talk about
how men in The movement leave their families for The, Capital T,
movement. So when he went outside
I got “Malcolmed”. When I mentioned it to him, he knew exactly
what I was talking about showed and immediately showed
appreciation for my ability to make that connection.