Demonstrating respect

Taken from a Dec. 23, 2014, audio column posted by

Throughout much of modern American history, the seasons of mass demonstrations have been spring and summer.

Look at old black and white photos of the anti-war, civil rights and Black Power demonstrations of the 1960s and 1970s, and you’ll see people in T-shirts, or simply dressed in shirts and jeans.

The dress reflected the ease of the weather.

Like in old military theory, the ground (or terrain) is important when planning battles.

Now, look at today; hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people amass in biting cold: in wind, rain and even snow.

This is thus something new in social movements, perhaps enhanced by social media, but strengthened too by a deep sense that change must come to an intolerable situation: police violence against unarmed Black men and boys.

For, at the very core of every meaningful movement of the 20th century, has been the beating hearts of Black people, and let’s face it, Black folks aren’t fond of the cold.

This should give us some sense of how deeply these issues resonate in Black minds.

Now, after the shootings of two cops in New York come calls from politicians to “suspend” demonstrations, out of respect.

The question arises, who respects whom?

When cops killed Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, who showed respect for them?

Brown was literally demonized by his killer.

Garner, we were told, was too fat to survive his choking, and should’ve just meekly submitted to the attack on his life.

Tamir, a child, was “big for his age” and “scared” cops, they said.  Amazing.

According to police bargaining unit head Patrick Lynch, Garner’s killer was a “model officer,” an Eagle Scout and “just doing his job.”

Yeah — choking a man to death for suspicion of selling a cigarette. Real respectful, eh?

(By the way, the verb “lynch” comes from — we are told by anti-lynching journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, Pittsylvania County, Va., ca. 1780 — when a Col. William Lynch instituted hangings for alleged horse thieves, without trial or due process. Hence the term, lynching — and “Lynch Law.”)

A crusading reporter, Ida B. Wells would be amazed at how easily Blacks could be killed in the 21st century by police, without due process.

Her keen eye would survey New York, Cleveland, Ferguson and beyond, and perhaps she would recognize modern day “Lynch Law.”