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“The whole damned system is guilty as hell!” -- Ferguson protestor.
One day after a St. Louis County Grand Jury rendered its decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, thousands of people around the country reminded me of one of the most iconic Public Enemy songs of all time: "Shut 'Em Down."
I testifiedMy mama criedBlack people diedWhen the other man liedSee the TV listen to me double troubleI overhaul and I'm comin'From the lower levelI'm takin' tabsSho nuff stuff to grabLike shirts it hurtsWith a neck to wreckTook a poll 'cause our soulTook a tollFrom the educationOf a TV stationBut look aroundHear go the sound of the wreckin' ballBoom and PoundWhen IShut 'em down
Protestors took to the streets and shut down everything from New York’s Lincoln Tunnel to Interstate 75 near Cincinnati, to Interstate 35 in Dallas. Thousands of people in cities as big as my home city of Philadelphia and as small as Topeka, Kansas were taking it to the streets.
That the Atlanta protests took place in front of the CNN building, home of Don Lemon spoke volumes to me. To say that he distinguished himself in all the wrong ways with his reporting from Ferguson on Monday night would be, perhaps, the understatement of the millennium.
Commuters trying to leave Manhattan or drive down I-75 might be angry, but I wouldn’t have been mad -- at all.
In fact, I think that it’s about damned time.
We’ve seen the movie “The Expendables: Men of Color Getting Shot By Cops” one too many times -- and taking it to the streets make a whole lot of sense to us.
There’s a common saying in communities of color when it comes to the legal system: “There’s no justice, there’s just us.”
Know why we say this? Because the police are shooting kids with toy guns like 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland. He was shot and killed on Sunday at a recreational center. The fact that the police are already finding a way to say this shooting was justified brings a more disturbing version of the “no justice, just us” meme.
Which is why Tuesday’s protests felt different to me.
It felt like folks were saying “Enough!”
It felt like people of all races, creeds and colors were tired of seeing the police, literally, get away with murder.
It felt as if the entire nation was agreeing with what the Ferguson protestor at the beginning of this column said.
The whole damned system is guilty as hell.
And it's time for Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and the myriad of dead men of color who have lost their lives deserve to have justice done. Their families deserve to see the corrupt systems of justice pay for their police brutality crimes.
Because our voices are rising up -- and until our voices are heard, it will be our actions that are shutting it down.