12/7/03

'Good police procedure' in Cin. City

By Mumia Abu-Jamal fromn death row

"Here we go again," laments a Cincinnati religious leader
as local and national TV stations broadcast the harrowing
footage of cops beating a black man, striking him with long
truncheons perhaps two dozen times.

The Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr., pastor of New Jerusalem
Baptist Church, is not alone in that sentiment.

Cincinnati is but the latest of a long train of abuses, this
latest is based on that often-used pretext: 'the Big Nigger
Defense.'

It was used in the infamous beating of Rodney King in L.A.
(one of the cops charged spiced up the imagery by likening
him to a "gorilla"). A decade before Rodney King became a
household name, a man named Delbert Africa was beaten,
rifle-butted, and repeatedly kicked while giving up after the
1978 Phila. police assault on the home and headquarter of
the MOVE Organization.

Initially, the city's police chief denied Africa was beaten
(in fact, all the men were beaten that day) but the videotapes
made it difficult to disprove Delbert's pummeling.

When a trial took place, the cops took the stand to
announce they were in fear of Delbert because of his
muscles. (The judge would dismiss the jury and proclaim
them 'not guilty', *ignoring videotape evidence*!).

Now, a man named Nathaniel Jones is beaten to a pulp
on tape in Cincinnati. When he dies, the first thing the
corporate media proclaims is his size. On some early
reports, Mr. Jones was described as "nearly 400 pounds."

It took a day or so to shrink to around 350 lbs. Still,
we see the rudiments of the BND: 'Big Nigger Defense.'
Six cops, each armed with a variety of weapons, were
threatened by the BND syndrome.

Of course, almost predictably, drugs have been
introduced into the case.

If it were not so tragic, it would be almost comical.
One is reminded of a stand-up routine by comedian
Dave Chappelle. He describes cops beating a Black
person into the concrete. The cops get together, and
one tells the other, "OK--let's just sprinkle some crack
on 'em, and get outta here."

The line never fails to score laughs from the audience.

It is so deep in American consciousness, that it's
become a national, private joke.

It is a joke that stems from something deadly serious.
And it stems from a national problem that shows no
signs of abatement.

For far to many men and women, it is no laughing
matter.

There is not a social explosion in the last half of the
20th Century that did not stem from events of just this
nature. From Watts of 1965 to Los Angeles of 1992,
the trigger has been the same -- police violence against
Black people. Courts have issued judgments up into
the billions (in total), but to no avail.

Like cancer, it goes on and on... and on.

It matters not a whit what color the police chief,
or mayor is.

It matters not whether there is a police accountability
board or not.

It matters not whether there is a Republican or
Democratic Administration in power, nationally, or
locally.

How many politicians, whether they are running for
president or dog catcher, have raised the issue? How
many have offered anything close to a solution?

The solution will not come from City Hall. Indeed,
often, City Hall is the problem!

The solution will come from the people themselves,
who organize themselves to make a difference,
directly.

Our history provides many examples of average,
everyday people, organized to change social problems.

That time has come again.

Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking
about justice."
- Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of four books:

  • Faith of our fathers:
    An examination of the spiritual life of African and African American People
  • Live from Death Row
  • Death Blossoms
  • All Things Censored.

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues.
His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most
Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]

Write to Mumia directly at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370