Sunday, December 21, 2014

CROSSING THE RUBICON: RACE AND POVERTY IN A DIVIDED NATION


"I'm putting wings on pigs
 today. They take 1 of 
ours, let's take 2 of theirs," 

#Shootthepolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMikeBrown.


Criminal Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28 typed those words on Twitter hours before assassinating officers, Liu Wenjin and Raphael Ramos in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Brinsley had shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend earlier in Baltimore.

The demented coward claimed the cold blooded  murders were in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was stopped by police and put in a fatal chokehold. 

Amateur video captured the event as Garner was heard gasping "I can't breathe" before he lost consciousness.A grand jury decision  not to charge the officer involved has led to weeks of protests throughout the United States.

I agree with Black President Obama who said said there was no justification for the killings and urged Americans to reject violence and harmful words and to instead embrace words that heal, and to seek out prayer and sympathy for the victims' relatives. 

Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton stated that  "Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in connection with any violence or killing of police is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases."

The assassinations underscore a the initial skirmishes in a potential "race war" that is ignored by the American mainstream media. The volatile polarization of race, poverty and perceived injustice is embedded in the the American consciousness. 

The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. A 2012 Pew Research Center showed that fewer Americans than ever believe in the American Dream mantra that hard work will get them ahead.

John Steinbeck  wrote in the Grapes of Wrath, “Repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed.” With each incident of a  chokehold death or indefensible police shooting followed by a grand jury decision that upholds these atrocities, the judicial system and the police become the enforcers of a perceived injustice.

This is an age where Dystopian books about the rich and ruthless preserving their grip on the poor majority have become uber popular not just with teenagers but with older adults. Is something uncomfortable ringing true? Are we suspicious of our governments and its increased intrusion into our day to day lives. 

The constant militarization of police departments in the United States must reflect a belief that something is coming. Even here on our rocky isolated outcrop in the North Atlantic, RNC recruitment videos of police training to push back riots create controversy. Why do our local police need to be so militarized? 

One can only hope that the actions of cowards and murderers do not become the rallying cry of the underprivileged, that these acts will instead lead to healing what ails society before it is too late.

 


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