Monday, July 18, 2016

Killing In The Name Of...

Before my hometown was part of cop-killer Chris Dorner's rampage, another officer ambush was carried out on the streets in my old neighborhood.

Back in the day we lived in the hood.
It wasn't so much ghetto as it was working class.
Most of the families were two-parent. Most of the fathers had served in the military. And most people were purchasing their homes.

My preschool was less than a block from my house. The program was started and supported by members of the Black Panthers. (As a four year old, I was afraid of 'black panthers'. I had seen The Jungle Book and knew that the black panther Bagheera was not one to be messed with. And I heard the adults say that our neighborhood was filled with 'Black Panthers'.) The local headquarters for the group were a block in the other direction. My neighborhood - while somewhat integrated - was filled with militant former military men.

I lived in a peaceful neighborhood.
That was until one night when the police burst into homes looking for suspects.
Two officers had been ambushed down the street from my preschool.
The official story states that the ambush was carried out in response to the shooting of a fleeing suspect a few nights earlier.
To the police, every Black male of a certain age looked like the suspect.

As kids, we were sheltered from 'grown folk's business' but we knew something was wrong. That something was now different.
Before this incident we were taught to run whenever we saw the police - afterwards, we knew why.
The ambush was so serious that Black Panther founder Bobby Seale came to my neighborhood.

I was too young to be a suspect or to be harassed by the police. Back then, kids were not allowed to join gangs, sell drugs or do anything else that hindered their ability to just be kids.
All I knew was that it was time for us to move.
The racial environment had shifted to the point that my parents didn't want us to be exposed to the negative impact of an angry and bitter population.
We moved from the hood to the hills.

Years later I became friends with the daughter of one of the officers killed.
I knew how her father died but I never brought it up.
Years later I would become close friends to many officers, detectives, investigators and chiefs.
Years later I would benefit from the corruption and favoritism of these men in blue. (It was so bad that I could place orders for things I wanted and then have the officers confiscate items on my list from suspects and then deliver them to me. I didn't pay for the items, the cops were just showing off. I thought it was funny.)

I guess I enjoyed a level of 'privelege' some say is reserved for only a certain demographic.
I guess I've been away from the hood for so long that I no longer understand much of the Black angst.
I guess I've grown so comfortable in my connections that I can have lunch or drinks to solve a problem instead of protesting or killing.
I guess my time to be a bitter and resentful victim has passed and the best thing for me to do in this current struggle is to just sit back and watch.


brohammas said...

sitting and watching is itself a privilege... though it is a local and not broad sweeping privilege.

uglyblackjohn said...

Yeah brohammas, I know but privilege itself is NOT universal. For one reason or another I've always been treated well wherever I've lived or been. I've had people say, 'Well you can't go (fill in the blank).'. But most of the time it somewhere I have no interest in going anyway so it doesn't matter.

You visited the school I went to in Hawaii. You said that I should change my screen name to 'onlyblackjohn' after seeing the racial makeup. Even there I was treated well. That school was funny. I heard, 'I usually don't like Black people but...' so many times..... But I always replied, 'I. Don't. Care.' as I'd walk away.

I don't need a body guard or the popo to feel safe. I go where I need to be and I don't worry about it.