STRANGE FRUIT: A PLEA for HELP!
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop
Based on a poem written by Abe Meeropol
Thursday, July 7, 2016
The Honorable Dr. Alma Adams
12th District, North Carolina
Another African American male is dead at the hands of law enforcement. Four bullets for a broken tail light? Seriously? What is even MORE horrific is a CHILD witnessed the murder and watched as police handcuffed her mother, and for what, I ask? I applaud the young woman for remaining calm, and having the presence of mind, and the mental agility, to record this vicious atrocity. The officer who murdered Philando Castile also recklessly endangered, traumatized, and brutalized the life of this same little girl, and for what, I ask?
White men wielding assault weapons – white men who kill groups of people at a time – are apprehended, without incident. Not so much as a hair on their heads is touched, and they are transported to county jails, alive – they don’t die enroute. Had Philando Castile been white, he would have most likely gotten off with a warning, if he was stopped. He could have joked about the incident with his buddies. But Philando Castile was a brother, cooperating with the police. He was licensed to carry the weapon he possessed, yet a review of police records covering his encounters with law enforcement reveal he had been targeted and stopped more than one hundred times. This kind of profiling has proven to be racist, ineffective, and insanely dangerous, yet it continues.
Police officers across the nation are using Black men for target practice! They’re bullying Black women taken into custody into such despair they allegedly commit suicide. Police departments close ranks around the perpetrators, investigate themselves, bury evidence, fabricate lies, and coach the offenders using language which implies the victims are always responsible for their deaths. The message is always the same: they’re right and we’re wrong, period! Black men are treated as enemy combatants for the most minor offenses, if an actual crime was committed. Officers swear they saw weapons where none exist, and felt compelled to fire out of fear for their lives. Every police officer who murders and claims fear of losing his, or her, life should be removed from the force. He, or she, is temperamentally unfit to serve and protect.
White men, regardless of their age, can leave home and not worry about making it back safely. White men can murder Black youths and be acquitted despite evidence creating reasonable doubt because juries believe the victims somehow managed to cause their own deaths. I worry about the men in my life. I pray, daily, for their safety. I want the male infants in my community to live, love, become productive citizens, and enjoy the blessings of liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution. It’s not too much to ask for, but it sure is hard to come by. Black Lives Matter!
Alma, I write to ask you to craft legislation reshaping the landscape governing officer-involved murders. I also ask for inclusion of the following provisions:
- Creation of a federal database of officer-involved murders. This database shall include the names, social security numbers, fingerprints, and mug shots of each officer; a list of the names of each person he, or she, murdered, and a summary of the legal actions taken, if any, and the outcomes.
- Every office involved in the murder of innocent people shall (a) forfeit her, or his, law enforcement certificate, and (b) be banned from EVER serving in public safety, or private security. This includes obtaining permits to carry firearms.
- A federal requirement tasking police academies, and local, county, and state human resources departments with checking the database against every application for public safety positions, and providing verification.
- Officers who ruthlessly endanger the lives of children, the elderly, developmentally, and physically disabled persons shall be arrested, charged, and tried on charges of reckless endangerment regardless of what happens, if anything, with regard to the murder charges.
- Every officer charged with murder, but NOT arrested, charged, or tried, shall do eighty hours per month of community service in morgues, low wealth neighborhoods, homeless shelters, under-performing schools, detention camps for immigrants, and organizations serving the least among us for a period of three to five years, and this requirement is retroactive to at least 2006, if not earlier. These officers shall also donate ten percent of their salaries to nonprofits serving marginalized populations in their respective communities for the duration of community service.
Law enforcement is failing communities across the country and the judicial system is a co-conspirator. Congress must write new law to overturn Utah v. Strieff. The US Supreme Court has given police officers permission to kill nonwhites for any reason: ANY REASON. Black Lives Matter! White people have been murdering Black folks ever since our ancestors were brought to this country and their status changed from indentured servant to slave. The killing continues, unabated. I am heartsick.
NOTE: This letter was submitted to the Honorable Alma Adams, 12th District, North Carolina, the blogger’s member of congress, and has been edited specifically for this post. The original letter was previously posted to the blogger’s Facebook page.