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. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The CMA Political Diatribe by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley Damages An Original American Art

Carrie Underwood
World Arena Colorado Springs, Colorado
December 2, 2006
Photo by the_diet_starts_mond ay 

Dear Country Music Association, 

My deep roots and love for country music began in my childhood.  I was born and raised in Nashville, in Belle Meade.  Many of my friends from childhood have served in government public service as both republicans and democrats.  In my work as a founder of production companies I have produced projects with many well known artists like Randy Travis, Alabama, Emmy Lou Harris, Bill Monroe, and Dolly Parton.  

The CMA actually gave my company an award for producing Randy Travis's first video, "Forever and Ever Amen."  

Politics is a dirty business.  All music is an art form that is in another realm.  The political stunt by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley on your ABC broadcast the other night was completely out of line.  Free speech like this has a place on Fox News or CNN maybe, but country music deserves better.  Now with the political diatribe by Carrie Underwood and her friend Paisley has the CMA become a political operation to get more votes for the republican party?  Is this organization raising money for the republican party also?  How did the organization allow such speeches on it's broadcast?  You have lost all credibility for a huge portion of your audience.  That audience includes all of your clients.  Treat them with more respect.  

Clearly your organization does not want appear as a shill for whatever political party is the current media rage.  Do something about this now and apologize to your audience for dragging the music down.  

Kind regards, 
Martin Pitts

PS:  This letter is in no way asking for equal time.  My letter is asking the crude producers of the CMA to get politics out of what was once an incredible art... country music.  Please try to understand this... music is an art just like poetry and painting.  Politics is an egotistical dirty business.  Keep art on a higher plane.