by Kenny Zulu Whitmore
Blacks and Latinos in the United States have long complained of police harassment and racial profiling, but no one paid much attention until July 16 this year, when the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates at his home on a “disorderly conduct” charge – read for being an uppity Negro or forgetting his place.
Thanks to his friendship with President Obama, Mr. Gates’ experience received recognition. Harold Phillips didn’t have such powerful friends. The 54-year-old Black man from Colfax, Louisiana, was horse-playing with his sister eight days after the Gates incident. A young, white cop thought it was a fight and stopped to question Mr. Phillips. According to other witnesses, the officer slipped and fell and was laughed at. He subsequently shot the unarmed Mr. Phillips five times in the back in front of family and friends. While the shooting is under investigation, the officer is on leave with taxpayers’ money.
In the 1960s, white police officers were engaged in racial profiling as part of the now disgraced FBI’s covert counter-intelligence program known as Cointelpro, pulling over African-Americans and searching their cars for no other reason than a broken taillight – after the cops had broken it before planting evidence on their target.
Though that program was disbanded, the abuse has continued. In the last 16 months, four unarmed Black men have been murdered in North Louisiana. All the cops have to say is, “I thought he had a gun,” and the shooting is justified.
Meanwhile, torture tactics that have come to light in Guantanamo Bay have been used against us to garnish information and false confessions, including near asphyxiation with plastic bags, slamming into walls and sleep deprivation.
I know first hand what that is like, because most of those tactics were used on me in 1975 to force a confession regarding a political robbery/murder I had nothing to do with, and for which I remain in prison.
Sgt. James Crowley – the police officer who arrested Professor Gates – may have redeemed himself, but I wonder has he ever been honored for reporting another cop shooting an unarmed suspect, or ever stopped his partners from zapping a suspect with their 50,000-volt taser for nothing?
At least, for a short while, we had the face of a renowned Harvard University professor to illustrate the ills inflicted on us by police officers here in the United States – those who see Black and Latino people as a little less human than themselves. So beers have been drunk at the Big House; now what?
Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Kenny Zulu Whitmore, 86468, CCR/R.C. Upper C Tier, Cell 9, Louisiana State Prison, Angola LA 70712.