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Spoken word artist Crystal Valentine performs a very emotionally charged poem titled “Black Privilege” in a poetry slam competition. One of the most moving lines in her poem tackled the issue of police brutality against black men, and the scourge of gun violence taking way too many young promising lives in urban communities. She says “Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy. Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.” Valentine is one of six performing poets who represented NYU at the poetry slam this year. Her team ended up winning which was no surprise to anyone who listened to her performance.
Ms Valentine makes me proud to be part of a resilient culture who takes oppression and intolerance and turns it into extraordinary talent and beautiful artistry. If you’re not moved by her amazing 3 minute video clip, you should contact a doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. She poured her heart out on that stage layering vulnerability on top of confidence on top of self critical introspection. There aren’t many people who can touch your soul with just a few words. That’s power. That’s talent. That’s the power of blackness.
More video of the events that took place after the murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice finally got released today (1/9/15) and it’s even worse than I expected. After watching the behavior of the officers in the video I thought to myself, this is what happens when life is devalued because of race. To people like me this video is sickening and hard to comprehend how children could be treated this way. A little boy murdered by police while playing on a playground. His older sister tackled and wrestled to the ground, forced in handcuffs then tossed in the backseat of a police car while watching her little brother bleed to death only a few feet away while police officers offer the dying kid no medical help at all. No one calls an ambulance, no one tries cpr, no one tries to stop the bleeding for a full 8 minutes. You can see them walk very casually around the bleeding dying kid with no sense of urgency. It was like Tamir’s life didn’t matter at all to them. It was more important to tackle and arrest his 14 year old sister who only wanted to help her dying brother.
If you read the account given by the officer before he knew this tragic incident was all caught on video, you’ll notice some disturbing similarities to the statements given by other officers who were also involved in shooting an unarmed African American. In the cases where there is no video, most officials and non minorities tend to believe the account given by police. But in every case where there is video of the event, the video directly contradicts the story given by police. What’s even sadder is even when there is a video that proves the officer lied or misrepresented the events that took place, the officer still does not get charged. Apparently murder, conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and giving false statements aren’t crimes when the victim is African American and the perpetrator carries a badge.
By watching the initial video of the shooting we’ve been able to confirm 5 lies that the Cleveland police department and Officer Timothy Loehmann have told:
1. Police said that Tamir Rice was seated at a table with other people.
TRUTH: Tamir Rice was not seated at a table with other people.
2. Police said that as they pulled up, they saw Tamir Rice grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
TRUTH: Tamir Rice does not appear to grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
3. Police said they got out of the car and told Tamir Rice three times to put his hands up but he refused.
TRUTH: Police shot and killed Tamir in less than two seconds and could not have told him to put his hands up three times.
4. Police said that Tamir Rice then reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, and was then shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
TRUTH: Tamir Rice absolutely does not pull the toy gun out of his waistband and brandish it in any way. This fact is crucial.
5. The officer who shot and murdered Tamir Rice (Timothy Loehmann) was described as a rookie.
TRUTH: Timothy Loehmann was not a rookie, but had been an officer for over two years.