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Karmic justice

April 7, 2009

by Joseph Anderson

Dellums’ reaction when white cops kill a young Black man: A very worried Mayor Ron Dellums is jammed up by angry young Oaklanders in front of City Hall on Jan. 7, during the first rebellion protesting the New Year’s execution of Oscar Grant. He had been silent that first week. – Photo: Thomas Hawk
Dellums’ reaction when white cops kill a young Black man: A very worried Mayor Ron Dellums is jammed up by angry young Oaklanders in front of City Hall on Jan. 7, during the first rebellion protesting the New Year’s execution of Oscar Grant. He had been silent that first week. – Photo: Thomas Hawk
This perspective might be very hard for many sociopolitically naive white people to read. But it’s very important to understand the sheer depth of negative feelings that many people of color – even those with no criminal record – have against the police. This is due to lifelong and often unpredictable, almost always potentially life-threatening negative experiences, from petty to lethal, that they or their loved ones and friends, as people of color, have had from the police.

Most people of color know that the cops, and police departments as institutions, historically represent the street enforcement arm of white American racism. Indeed, the police were born out of the white slave patrols.

People of color and conscious white people have seen how cops have wantonly brutalized many members of the Black and Brown community – the police murder of Oscar Grant (who was brutally assaulted by more than just the one potentially legal “sacrifice” cop who murdered him) being just the latest in a long series of notorious cases that have become epidemic in the Bay Area and all across the nation. Such is the arrogance of police power that sometimes this police abuse reaches other communities: Asians, members of the Arab community – recently in San Francisco, women and children at a peaceful political march – and peaceful political protesters of all ethnicities.

Relatively recently, in Oakland, 11 cops were fired for falsifying a whole series of search warrants to bust into people’s homes. And the OPD chief of internal affairs was put on leave, pending an investigation for his having viciously beaten a Latino suspect in his custody to death years ago.

In the weeping and mourning over the deaths of the four cops killed on March 21, how soon we forget the Oakland Riders case: The political damage control performed there kept the focus of the investigation just on those specific corrupt street cops but did nothing to clean up the department in whose culture and corruption they were spawned.

It is said that Oakland alone in the Bay Area pays out – at least averaged over time – about $2 million a year in police brutality cases – and many more millions soon yet to come. Surely that is money that could be spent on education and job training.

Dellums’ reaction when a young Black man kills white cops: The March 27 funeral for the four Oakland cops killed by Lovelle Mixon was an apparent love fest – here Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hugs Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. However, at the request of at least one of the slain officers’ families, neither Dellums nor Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke. – Photo: Pool/Getty Images
Dellums’ reaction when a young Black man kills white cops: The March 27 funeral for the four Oakland cops killed by Lovelle Mixon was an apparent love fest – here Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hugs Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. However, at the request of at least one of the slain officers’ families, neither Dellums nor Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke. – Photo: Pool/Getty Images
American flags were officially flown at half-staff for those killed cops – summarily tried, sentenced and executed in the streets, just like they do with people of color. But no flags were flown at half-staff over City Hall by the Black mayor of Oakland for Oscar Grant or any of the other innocent minority victims of police summary executions.

Mayor Ron Dellums (and Congresswoman Barbara Lee) took a week before he (or she) said anything about Grant, and even then only in the most indirect and tepid terms, and Dellums only after his finally being confronted by the people in front of City Hall. (See YouTube videos: “Davey D Rants on Mayor Ron Dellums“; “Oakland Rebels, Mayor Ron Dellums Gets Confronted“; “OG3: Oscar Grant Tribute“; “March of Stolen Lives, Part 1” (of 3) and “Jerry Amaro Family Sues Oakland Police for $10 Million.”)

Yet Dellums immediately, personally and vociferously condemned the killings of the cops, and without any prompting by citizen demands. (And at least one cop’s family still wouldn’t let Dellums speak at the funeral. Good.) So much for “the new age of Obama” and “change we can believe in!” So much for the illusion, mindlessly repeated – wherever there is a camera or a microphone – by some of those docilized middle- and upper-class negroes who always want to gain white people’s approval as “the good Blacks,” that “all human life is equal!”

“The good Blacks,” especially top Black politicians, will at best once again call for some kind of touchy-feely police “sensitivity training” and “dialogue” – but never for the best training: quick, effective prosecutions, sound convictions and serious criminal sentences against rogue and killer cops. But since when, right from this country’s founding when it was genocidally and otherwise horrendously established upon generations of millions of Red, Black, Yellow and Brown lives, has all life ever “been equal” in the history of America?

At least a couple of the local TV news stations have shown a servile Rev. Philip Ellinberg, some negro (probably what we Blacks call a “jackleg / bootleg preacher,” since he seems to be absent from any telephone or online directory listings) who was supposed to (and apparently did) sing for Massa at the killed cops’ funeral. Where was he at Oscar Grant’s funeral – or those of any other police-executed minorities? Where is he at the Oscar Grant Movement meetings held almost every Saturday afternoon in Oakland at the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church?

Where were the flags at half-staff, much less the state and mass media-covered funeral for Oscar Grant and all the other unarmed, innocent victims of killer cops’ vigilantism and street executions? All Bay Area people have to do is to look at all the names on the boards of the Stolen Lives Project (started by Danny Garcia) and its portable mural of names: men, women – even grandmothers – and kids shot to death, sometimes in a hailstorm of bullets, even against innocent people just minding their own business, choked to death, smothered to death, truncheoned to death, and, of course, sustain-tasered to death – and not those unhandcuffed, little, quick, light two-second tap shocks cops sometime demonstrate on another cop – with two cops on both sides carefully catching the one as he buckles – for television PR purposes: “See? It doesn’t really hurt.” Do you think that any of the Bay Area cities would even fly their flags at half-staff for just one day for, collectively, ALL of those victims of police executions?

This is especially noteworthy given that a cop who was wounded on March 21 – but not killed – by Mixon was Sgt. Pat Gonzales, who narrowly escaped karmic justice, but who, as a repeat offender, last shot a young Black man, Gary King Jr., in the back and killed him. The media lauds this cop while his repeated brutality and violence are ignored.

And cops up in Sonoma county even went and gratuitously killed the biracial kid, Jeremiah Chass, right in his home driveway, after his parents made the mistake of calling the cops to help calm down their very well-liked son, who was momentarily in psychological crisis. Over a thousand people attended Jeremiah’s memorial, but you didn’t see that on TV.

Said Jeremiah’s aunt to me, “It took three hours to get through all the stories and comments from his classmates and friends on how he touched their lives. He WAS well liked, kind, gentle and with a spirit and wisdom well beyond his years. And yes, you are right … we won’t see this on TV. To this day, the claim [by Sonoma cops] is that it was a justified killing and even a ‘heroic’ act.”

There’s a sarcastic old saying, known among Blacks, “When the White Man is hurt, evvverybody must cry.” But millions of people aren’t cryin’ over four killed cops – including even many politically conscious white people – and AREN’T MOURNING along with that state mass propaganda funeral. While the cops and the media come up with suspiciously last-minute – and technically unconfirmed – stories to try to tell us just “how bad” Lovelle Mixon was (how about research into those dead cops’ background to see how abusive and dirty they were?), many of us see it as karmic justice, regardless of what person killed the four – and almost five! – cops, all in a brief afternoon’s work.

Lovelle Mixon’s name will be legendary in the Bay Area – long after people forget the names of the four cops he killed in one afternoon. And it’s karmic justice that just as many Blacks in America have been murdered by cops during a “routine” traffic stop, these cops were killed during a “routine” traffic stop.

The cops called Lovelle Mixon “a cold-hearted individual who doesn’t have any regard for human life.” Well, the cops should know: They too, often against minorities, behave exactly the same way.

So, now, as far as many, especially Black and Brown Bay Area people feel, there’s finally karmic justice.

Joseph Anderson is a resident of Berkeley, an occasional writer of sociopolitical commentaries in various publications and a longtime progressive political activist.

9 thoughts on “Karmic justice

  1. Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA

    DOES CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE STILL SPEAK FOR *US*?

    (OR, ARE ALL LIVES TRULY “EQUAL”?)
    ______________________________________________

    “Does Barbara Lee Still Speak for You and Me?”

    By Henry Norr
    Wednesday March 25, 2009
    Berkeley Daily Planet newspaper
    Berkeley, CA

    [exceprt]

    When four Oakland police officers were killed last weekend, Rep. Barbara Lee wasted no time before speaking out. The very next day — on a Sunday, no less — she issued not one but two press releases expressing condolences to the victims’ families and support for their colleagues. The following day she took to the floor of the House and for more than six minutes paid tribute to these “fallen heroes,” as she put it. The press statements promptly appeared on her official website, and a video clip of her remarks to the House was posted to her YouTube channel.

    Unfortunately, she wasn’t nearly as quick to respond to some other recent incidents of violence that have concerned many of her constituents:

    • Oscar Grant. After the BART police murdered Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station, Lee made no public statement about the incident for more than a week. Only after hundreds of her constituents had taken to the streets to express their outrage — not only at the killing, but also at the establishment’s demonstrable indifference to it — did she issue a statement declaring that her “thoughts and prayers are with the family of Oscar Grant as they grieve the loss of their loved one.”

    Even then, she and her staff don’t seem to have made much of an effort to get her statement out. They didn’t even bother to post it on her website — as of March 25, it’s still not there — and the only place Google finds the text is in a Bay Area News Group blog, not even in the Oakland Tribune or other East Bay papers. (On Jan. 14 Lee issued another statement saying she was “pleased” at the arrest of former officer Johannes Mehserle. That one did make it to her website.)

    ___________

    Henry Norr is a former journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle

    .

    Reply
  2. Brown Girl from East Los

    Thank you, Joseph, for your clear analysis and for bringing to light the contradictions between how cops’ deaths are treated and how innocent civilians’ deaths are treated.
    And thank you for offering finally, a really solution!

    “quick, effective prosecutions, sound convictions and serious criminal sentences against rogue and killer cops.”

    Reply
  3. Raj Sahai

    Joseph Anderson’s excellent analytical article and its very thoughtful title reminds me about a story half way around the globe. But first about the title. ‘Karma’ is a Hindi language word which literally means ‘deed’, done consciuosly. It also alludes to the long held belief that one’s deed does not die when one passes away and it has an impact in the generations to follow.A more common religious meaning is that the soul is immortal and leaves the body after death, and carries to the next life,the consequence of the ‘karma’ of the present life.

    So now to a real life story that his article takes me back to. In India, the upper caste oppression of the lowest caste, also once called the “untouchables” is well known.Gandhi took up their cause and named them “Harijans”, (god’s people)when he began a reform movement early in his political life. The women of the “untouchables” were at the bottom rung of the entire society and subject to abuse not only by men of their own castes but were also whenever they were estranged from their spouses, subjected to sexual violence of the upper caste men.Phoolan Devi, a rebellious Harijan teenage girl married to a man twice her age was such young woman, who ran away from her abusive husband, only to meet the fate of many such women: she was gang raped by upper caste men of her village. Hurt and humiliated she ran away and joined an outlaw gang who lived in the ravines of central India’s rocky outcrops, and raided wealthy households to eke out a marginal existence. She became the leader of the gang when the male leader, also her lover was killed by the police in one of the raids. A few years later she returned to her village with her gang, found the upper caste men, some who had raped her, others who just were gathered with them at a wedding, but for her no different. She lined up 16 of them against a wall and executed them with her machine gun. She was captured and tried in court but was declared a mistrial on some legal grounds. She was later released when the State chose not to try her again, as in the meantime a socialist leader was elected the governor of the state, who hoimself a lower caste man understood the larger issue. differently. He understood that although she committed a violent crime in response to violence against her this was an act of “karmic justice” against a history of violent oppression of the harijans in general and harijan women in particular. Her act was that of a revolt against a 1000 years oppression.The state did not pursue the case again as she had been in jail already many years. She renounced violence, ran and was elected to the Indian parliament. A few years ago, she was gunned down by a youn upper caste man who stalked her home.The movie “Bandit Queen” is the bollywood version of the real story of Phoolan Devi.

    Reply
  4. Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA,

    Marty Price’s blindly pro-police commentary, “Quit Absolving Criminals”, April 15/16, 2009, in the Berkeley Daily Planet is a RED HERRING:

    Besides Price’s commentary being unprofessionally written (especially for a former assistant principle at an _educational_ institution in charge of developing young minds hopefully bound for college, but I wouldn’t want him in charge of *my* kids), it is largely a critically unsupported/undocumented, negatively Black- & Brown- stereotyping and, negatively, even entirely city of Oakland-stereotyping (including that only Black males from Oakland criticize police brutality), PRO-POLICE SUCK-UP COMMENTARY, almost entirely based on a logical fallacy: that the existence of “criminals” in the community somehow renders police abuse, brutality, and atrocities, or otherwise police corruption, beyond intellectual and moral criticism or condemnation. Obviously, Price is not capable of any deeper reflection and analysis.

    In fact, the working-class and poor Black and Brown communities can be (and in fact is) often victimized by _both_ civilian criminals AND the police, who also often behave like, or often are, (legalized) criminals themselves. To Price, all (Black, Brown, Asian or sometimes even white, male or female, young and old) victims of police abuse and brutality are just “criminals” who got and get what they deserve. (Like, if you’re below 50, Black or Brown, casually dressed, and drive a late-model or new car: you’re obviously an unemployed car theif and drug dealer about to commit a home invasion.)

    Marty Price’s arrogant, dismissive, and name-calling (but then he accuses others of being devisive, which apparently means anyone who disagrees with Price), barroom level, red herring, verbal attack on Anderson, Allen-Taylor, and Damu, about “criminals” in the Black & Brown communities is _utterly irrelevant_ to the issue of police wrongdoing — which, after all the victims of police brutality and even police murder, Price doesn’t say a single word about, and evidently won’t even acknowledge that any police brutality ever even takes place: that speaks for itself.

    Were Oscar Grant, or Jeremiah Chass, or Amadou Diallo, or Sean Bell, or any number of other innocent victims of police murder alone (not counting all the other forms of police brutality), criminals? Are Joseph Anderson, Douglass Allen-Taylor, Jean Damu, Walter Mosely (who spoke recently in Berkeley), and all the other educated (some very famous) Blacks, let alone Sheridith Maresh, Henry Norr, Maris Arnold, who’ve written about police abuse and brutality, criminals? Neither Joseph Anderson’s or any other Berkeley Daily Planet commentaries “absolved” any criminals. So, Marty Price’s diatribe against them is logically _irrelevant_.

    (But, note, when whites commit multiple or mass murder, even against many more people, like at Columbine, the white media and white commentators are always looking for some circumstantial, social or institutional context too.)

    Reply
  5. Der Kosmonaut

    Two points:
    1) “his (Chass’) parents made the mistake of calling the cops to help calm down their very well-liked son, who was momentarily in psychological crisis.”
    If I had a dollar for each time I heard a statement like that. When I was involved in anti-police brutality campaigns in the 1990s in New York, I often heard stories of police brutalizing and killing people after their relatives called the police on them. Why do we do this? Why do our people also call the police against our families and loved ones? What possesses people to do this? Why do our people, all of whom know how the police are, always pick up the phone or hail a police car against our relatives when there is no physical danger to our lives? I myself, would never call the police for anything. I made that mistake once when my fascist landlady locked me out of my apartment illegally. Against my better judgement, I called the police for help only for them to verbally assault me. I would never ask a police officer for directions even if I were hopelessly lost. Please people! We must stop calling the police to deal with our domestic quarrels when our lives are not in danger!
    2)This one is directed to James. You are just a member of the Thought Police. You are wasting everyone’s time with your bullshit.

    Reply
  6. Nicollette

    As a biracial woman with a hispanic husband, I can say I’ve been the victim of sexuality harassment at the hands of the police, and witnessed harassment against my husband, today I learned that in my state of Washington ANOTHER 4 cops are dead, and I say KARMA IS A BITCH, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!! I’m so happy I found this site, keep up the great work!!!! My anger diminishes over past experiences against myself and family after reading your beautiful site, AND learning what happened to those 4 dead Parkland, Washington cops!!!! Mmm-hmm, damn STRAIGHT my brothas and sistas!!!!

    Reply
  7. Nicollette

    As a biracial woman with a hispanic husband, I can say I’ve been the victim of sexual harassment at the hands of the police, and witnessed harassment against my husband, today I learned that in my state of Washington ANOTHER 4 cops are dead, and I say KARMA IS A BITCH, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!! I’m so happy I found this site, keep up the great work!!!! My anger diminishes over past experiences against myself and family after reading your beautiful site, AND learning what happened to those 4 dead Parkland, Washington cops!!!! Mmm-hmm, damn STRAIGHT my brothas and sistas!!!!

    Reply

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