Murder To Excellence: The Saga Of Michael Brown Through A Hip-Hop Lens
The views expressed are that of the author.
"Cops in the ghetto they move like the gestapo
Drunk off their power and greed, they often hostile
My little homie talked shit back and they beat him bad
That boy in the hospital now he's lookin' bad
And I'm with his momma and dad we lookin' sad
My own mama called me said "Baby I'm just glad
The ain't put they hands on my child and kill his ass
Please don't rap about that before they murder your black ass!"
Pigs on parade, bacon fryin' and cookin;
Cause kids tired of dying and walkin' round like they shooken'
Cause we smoke sour to deal with the paranoia
That they charge by the hour, can't hire the Jewish lawyer
Cause if you ain't Jigga or Puff you doin' time
And even then you might get 10, word to Shyne"
On New Years Day of 2009, a young black man named Oscar Grant was murdered by officer Johannes Meserle in Oakland, California. If you've ever experienced riding on the BART, you are firmly aware that the station is crowded with people at all times, especially New Years. When I first learned of the specifics of the case, I was outraged. Long story short, Grant and a few of his friends were detained by the police for causing a disturbance on the train, as they should have. But what followed was a clear misuse of power from said officers. If you believe the officers in question acted accordingly to professional codes of conduct, you probably believe Santa Claus still exists.
Like I said, there are always tons of people at the BART, so the entire episode was caught on video. In it, you can see Grant being pinned face down by several police officers, pleading with them to let him go. Not even Mike Tyson could pose a threat to the officers in this situation. At around the 1:40 mark is where you see Grant being pinned down, and eventually the fatal gunshot. He is no position to pose a threat. If you disagree with that, I'll remind you that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren't real. But if your fantasy life works for you, please continue to be happily ignorant. Anyways...
At one point, Meserle pulled a gun from his holster and fired. He later claimed that he meant to reach for his taser, but grabbed his gun instead. I have a few problems with this. Officers must go through diligent training before they are awarded a badge, so my hope is that most of the officers patrolling the streets have some sort of method as to where they keep their tasers and where they keep their guns (the things that actually take people's lives away). I realize that in the heat of the moment, officers are expected to use their best judgement, but even in milliseconds I personally believe I would come to the conclusion that the object in my hand was a gun and not a taser.
During the criminal trial, the prosecutors used common sense and video footage to back up their case: "What we see in the video is an officer releasing his control of a suspect, standing up, drawing his weapon, with some difficulty, and shooting it." No matter though. For killing a defenseless man, Meserle was sentenced to less than 2 years. In terms of a ridiculous argument, the only cases that rival this one is the infamous "Twinkie defense," and Cochran's "Glove" defense.
I put the Grant situation out of my mind until I recently watched Fruitvale Station. I loved the movie, but it brought back those same old angry feelings I had when I woke up on New Years Day on 2009. Clearly, the police officers across the nation have set a terrifying precedent. First of all, it is not difficult to get away with murder knowing that you will be protected by whatever bullshit reasoning your defense attorneys will spin on the matter.
"Miss Oprah, Mr. Cosby, I am right back at yo ass
Without honor, Mr. Obama, please don't walk out so fast
I got question, got a question, got a question for you all
Why when Oscar Grant got murdered, we didn't hear a peep from ya'll?"
Two teenagers have died recently at the hands of violence. Although Trayvon Martin's situation is a little different, George Zimmerman was acquitted largely because of a severely mishandled case by the prosecution, but mostly by ridiculous attitudes. Zimmerman's lawyers naturally targeted Martin's misdeeds in the past, but somehow explained how the shenanigans many teenagers pull made him a candidate for murder. And that leads me to Michael Brown.
"They only care about a nigga when he writin' a rhyme
Kenny Lofton, you feelin' my pace
They only care about a nigga when he stealin' a base
It's like I'm Wilt The Stilt, I'm fuckin' em all
They only care about a nigga when he dunkin' a ball
And it breaks my heart, the world's a stage
I just play my part"
Michael Brown is being labeled as thug who got what was coming to him when he was murdered by a police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. His teachers have testified that he was a good student. According to the St. Louis dispatch: "At 11:51 a.m. on August 9, 2014, a convenience store security camera captured video of Brown taking a $48 box of cigarillos and physically assaulting and intimidating a convenience store clerk. A police dispatcher reported a "stealing in progress" at 11:53, and at 11:57 dispatch said the suspect was wearing a red Cardinals hat, a white T-shirt, yellow socks, and khaki shorts, and was accompanied by another man. At noon, Wilson radioed to ask other officers searching for the suspects if they needed him and was told by dispatch that they had disappeared."
Some credible sources state that Wilson was ignorant of the robbery at all, but regardless, when he found two teenagers J-Walking, he told them to "get the fuck out of the way." He then aggressively maneuvered his car so that he almost hit the two teenagers. Emotions heated on both sides, a scuffle ensued, in which Wilson shot Brown....not once
But eight times. Michael Brown was 6'4 and 292 lbs.According to Bloomberg, Wilson stated that he felt like a 5 year old contending with Hulk Hogan during the scuffle. I imagine a shot to his leg would have sufficed, but if you think it takes 8 shots to subdue a human, you need to take a break from Scarface reruns and understand that vampires don't exist.
"We ain't out here threatening your lives, raping your children
We just out here staying alive, making a million
Working hard, trying to survive chasing a mill-ion
You hear us talking loud, just think of this us as chameleons
Reacting to the situations, but accusations of stealing
Vulgarizing your house, hey man you just hurting my feelings
We got lives, we wanna live nice too
We got moms, dads, wives, kids just like you
But our options are few it's hell in high school
When your helping with the rent lights and the gas bill too
So before you go judging us loving us won't hurt
Yeah under 25, staying alive is hard work"
The most important part I want to say is this-- not all cops are bad. In fact, I imagine a great majority of them are great people who abide by the law they work diligently to protect. I even personally know a few, and they are truly great human beings. Additionally, the Michael Brown issue is not a race issue per say, nor a political issue. A teenager was shot 8 times over a back of cigarillos. Regardless of your political affiliations, the police should not be able to use unnecessary force knowing that they will be protected by this fucked up judicial system of ours. For those of you defending Wilson, take a cold hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you've ever done anything slightly illegal. How would you feel if a cop aggressively cornered you and eventually shot you 8 times? Additionally, the people that are defending Wilson, I hope that if your children are ever subjected to such merciless violence, regardless of their skin tone, you will be perfectly fine losing your child forever. In your serene state of mind at having lost your teenage son forever (who, let's face it, teenagers are teenagers for a reason) you will post a bunch of tweets and facebook statuses defending the officer who murdered your child because maybe he stole cigarillos or was J-walking (or some minor illegal crime). Once, when I was 7 or so, I stole an Iron Man comic book magazine from a 7-11. When my mom found out, I didn't hear the end of it for weeks. I never stole again, and I still remember how embarrassed I was when she drove me back to the 7-11 and told me to apologize to the clerk. Even though I was upset at the time, I'm glad that I didn't end up getting shot 8 times.
"Why am I fighting to live, if I'm just living to fight
Why am I trying to see, when there ain't nothing in sight
Why am I trying to give, when no one gives me a try
Why am I dying to live, if I'm just living to die"
I'll leave you with a classic verse from Cee-Lo Green (before he started singing and doing "The Voice" from 1993 on the classic album Soul Food by Goodie Mob. But in all honesty, I'm so jaded from this situation that my sentiments match the ones of Killer Mike on the Run The Jewels' song "DDFH" found at the beginning of this article: "Do dope, fuck hope."
"As individuals and as a people we are at war
But the majority of my side got they eyes open wide
But still don't recognize what we fighting fo
I guess that's what I'm writing for to try to shed some light
But we been in the darkness for so long, don't know right from wrong
Y'all scared to come near it, you ignore the voice
In your head when you hear it
The enemy is after yo' spirit but you think it's all in yo' mind
You'll find a lot of the reason we behind
Is because the system is designed to keep our third eyes blind
But not blind in the sense that our other two eyes can't see
You just end investing quality time in places you don't even neeed to be
We don't even know who we are, but the answer ain't far
Matter of fact its right up under our nose
But the system taught us to keep that book closed
See the reason why he gotta lie and deceive is so
That we won't act accordingly
To get the blessings we suppose to receive
Yeah it's true, Uncle Sam wants you to be a devil too
We ain't natural born killas, we are a spiritual people
Think about the slave trade when they had boats with
Thousands of us on board
And we still was praising the Lord
Now you ready to die over a coke, a necklace round your throat, that's bullshit
Black people ya'll better realize, we losin, you better fight and die
If you got to get yo' spirit and mind back and we got to do it together
Goodie Mob means, "The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit"
Still fighting, for our spirit and mind.