Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gunshot Lynching: Ferguson, Missouri America

American Street Art #1

Maybe it is because our America has been at war off and on since 1991, and human life is not as sacred as in the past. Maybe another reason is that some of our police falsely believe they are now fully trained in military tactics and weaponry to fend off some terrorist threat. While many broadcast networks join with other tabloids like Fox and CNN to stoke the fires of racial hatred, let's remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who refused to cooperate with an evil system by using non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. Dr. King throughout his life always embraced peace and unconditional love for even his worst enemies. People in Ferguson, Missouri and all over America please remember what he stood for and continue to resist and disobey with the memory of Dr. King in mind.  

Whether they understand it or not, most of the tea party republicans are basking in the glow of their unstated "I told you so!  Those people of color just don't understand our nation's laws and our policemen."  Other people like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell smile secretly to themselves as they watch conceit spread like a virus infecting the 20% who elected them to high office.  Tea party racists and poseurs celebrate their now secure future and sing out "Tomorrow belongs to me" from Cabaret for the thousand year tea party. Despite the grand jury report, Americans need to fully realize that Michael Brown's murder was a Gunshot Lynching. 

As a young freelancer many years ago I was hired to shoot and produce a news camera story for the old UPI (United Press International) covering a race riot near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Early in the evening at the emergency station set up by the Sheriff's department, I witnessed this. I wanted to roll, but as soon as I raised my camera I was ordered not to film by deputies in uniform. One deputy cautioned me that it was a confidential operation. The men were going out in disguise to scout the area. I noticed the white men's faces were smudged with black. One man had a pellet pistol tucked into his belt. They also had two pellet gun rifles on the back seat of their unmarked car. The Ft. Lauderdale Sheriff, in person escorted the men to their car and sent them out on their unknown mission with smiling encouragement. In my naivety I didn't realize what was happening at that moment. Then I moved on to film as much as possible for the story of law enforcement curbing angry people who were roaming the streets causing trouble.  

Eventually I discovered that the Sheriff sent out those undercover white cops in black face with pellet guns to shoot at and enrage the people on the streets. It was a stunt worthy of the worst political players in the civil rights times I had seen in New Orleans and all over the south when I was growing up. 

Later in the night the riot got worse and worse ending with massive police presence and suppression. In this case, there were no murders, but there was a lot of blood and a lot of local TV coverage. That same Sheriff ran as a republican for the U.S. House a couple of years afterward, and he won handily. 

I'll never forget my last shot for the story at the local police station where an old black guy who worked there in maintenance came to work as usual at six o'clock.  He trudged out and slowly raised the American flag just as the sun was rising. 

They liked that shot a lot at UPI in Europe, and they cynically questioned me from the London office about what it means to me. I told them I was just the cameraman and they would have to decide that themselves. The Editors also sent me highest compliments for the scenes of a burning middle school that I shot. They really liked the action of the firemen wrestling with giant hoses and axes and the bright red lights of the engines.

American Street Art #2
The next day, after I had returned my equipment, I drove back to the location. I found kids that swore they had been shot with pellet guns in the night of the riots. They showed me welts on their arms and legs and backs confirming what I had seen that terrible night. 

What happened that night in Florida re-taught me a harsh unforgettable lesson in American or any politics. It is inevitable. People with absolute power will abuse that power. 

When are we ever going to learn? 

Just like long ago Ft. Lauderdale, it appears the events in Ferguson, Missouri are being manipulated by both the media companies covering and unseen political and law enforcement people in power on the ground there. The stories will send jarring messages to a lot of regular people watching TV and reading the news threads on their computers. 

Many of those people will say, "Well, I knew it. Who wants to vote for either side in this! The black people are rioting, and almost as bad, the cops look like scary military. All of this unrest is disgusting. It makes me think, I'm glad I didn't vote at all in November.  Forget all those horrible, do nothing politicians!" To the folks at Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity this is very, very good news. To all the tea party people this is the best of all possible outcomes. 

Like that Sheriff many years ago in Florida, the future votes will go to the solid powerful players who look like they are taking care of violence and mayhem in our little town America, Ferguson, Missouri. 


Here's one idea we can use to help stop gunshot lynching and help end corruption and brutality by police in our nation. Every on-duty cop in America should wear a GoPro camera or an iPhone next to their badge to give us an unbiased witness to any kind of violence or other abuse of power. And make that off-duty whenever a weapon is carried! 

American Street Art Final 

One more thing: 
Any sheriff or any law enforcement officer has a tough job. My Uncle was a sheriff of a small southern town, and a dear cousin was an officer in another southern city. For all in their profession, I greatly respect and honor the calling to serve and protect. 


Stephen said...

Thank you Marty! Incredible: the incident in Florida so bizarre it's almost surreal... unfortunately it was all too real and not so uncommon. Of course the sheriff ran as a republican and of course he was elected. File under 'law and order' scams. This and the events in Missouri are such blatant examples of media manipulation that it's difficult to imagine anyone falling for it, but of course they do. 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'. Would love to see your shot of the old man raising flag in sunset. Any chance you could post? Anyway, thanks again! sda

translator said...

Every American should be concerned about this issue!

It can happen in every corner of the country and common rules should not permit any police force to do what they have done in Ferguson!

Except in very rare occasions where intelligence and common knowledge of the plans of rioting individuals may warrant it, police has no business confronting citizens with armored gear and armored vehicles! That is war equipment and, unless a civil war starts, no side is allowed to use that kind of power.

The reason this problem recurs and is not allowed to be solved is because we have pockets of fascism where STATE RIGHTS and totally misguided concepts of justice and policing are claimed and enforced contrary to national laws.

A police force that is that out of touch with the right of the people, has no business being a police force!

Who certified them as such? Who encourages this kind of conduct? Why is any policeman encouraged to shoot first and ask questions later? Why are shots not fired in the air as it happens in so many other countries? Why are such victims often found with dozens of bullets in their dead bodies? What police force can possibly be proud of that?

Glenn Terry said...

Speak out and set a good example. It may make a difference.

danette chavis said...

Thank you for this article!