The response that I've received about this blog, from my peoples who I know and don't know, is Peace. Give Thanks, repost accordingly and let's keep this moving. For those who need to know, the new album should be coming sometime in 2011, which I'll speak on next week. The album is entitled "The Sound's Of Low Class America". Somewhere in this blog I'll leak something from the album relevant to our main topic of the week. In last weeks report I wrote that there would be mistakes as a forewarning and safety net put in place to cover thy rear. Unfortunately, I had to use it sooner than I expected to when I found myself on my back firmly pressed against the net looking up at the tight rope like a fallen acrobat. My wife eloquently pointed out in my introduction I failed to mention husband as one of my many roles...(Damn!!!,Oh Shit!!!, My bad Ma). I put myself on blast to keep it 100%, as well as illustrate the fact that I have a strong woman on my side on the team holding me down and lifting me up which is Mando (short for mandatory) for me as I strive for elevation.
When I was between the ages of 10 or 12 I remember my mother talking with me about certain etiquette when dealing with police. She said, because your father is 6"7 you are going to be tall for your age. As a result of your size and color when you encounter police don't make sudden movements, resist arrest or talk slick when captured because they might beat or kill you. When she spoke it felt like the 10 commandments’ passed down from a seasoned street vet. In retrospect- it's beyond saddening to think that a mother has to have that kind of conversation with her youngest son at anytime. This conversation was my introduction to my long-standing distrust and hatred toward Police. Though I have never been beat by the police (-as I rub this wood table) I have had to put my hand on the hood of a LA sheriff's car while they accelerated burning my hands, as well as having numerous friends and family murdered by police, which hurts the soul beyond belief and perpetuates a feeling of powerlessness and rage. Growing up in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Atlanta I have seen and heard stories first and second hand of police abusing power from shooting unarmed kids in the back, in some cases throwing down a dirty strap (gun) to insinuate the killing was justified because they were armed, sodomy, extortion of drug dealers you name it. When someone in our community gets shot by the police there's media coverage (maybe), demonstrations (maybe), law suit (maybe), political education on the history, role, and function of police (close to never), the communities awareness of their rights (sometimes), police wrong doing or conviction (maybe). Never is there structural or institutional change as our meaning of society and the possibilities of change and how we fit into it get shaped into never envisioning justice being served in communities occupied by low income and people of color. We are always wrong, it’s always justified, our lives aren't worth shit and we will be brutalized and discounted at every turn all day everyday. With out pulling punches these are the clear messages sent to us as witnessed by what happened with the case of Oscar Grant and too many others that are nameless and faceless. The rebel/rider/warrior in me feels like taking one of them out, out of desperation, immediate gratification and needing to soothe the psyche, restoring dignity and humanity. Doing so would create a small feeling of justice with the overwhelming overstanding that I've made no dent or impact structurally to change the conditions. I would have to kill every cop to achieve justice, which is unrealistic. I wrote a set of songs, for a side group I was in called Semi Official on Rhymesayers with DJ Abilities, that deal with the issues of Police brutality. The songs were called Police Assassination Anthem or P.A.A, as there labeled. Part.1 is on “The Anti Album” and pt. 2 is on the B-side of the Crime 12".
Part 2 deals with the desperation and frustration of someone who kills a police officer as a political act against the Capitalistic state, then flees to Cuba:
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/02-P.A.A-Pt-2.mp3|titles=02 P.A.A Pt 2]
Part 1 deals with the explanation of the conditions that could create the character in part 2:
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/08-Police-Assassination-Anthem.mp3|titles=08 Police Assassination Anthem]
The point is to always politicize the act away from a just a killing in the same way that a riot is different from an uprising organized never disorganized. Back in the day I noticed KRS One had a gang of different cuts (songs) about police through out his career "Sound of the police”,” Black Cop","100 Guns","30 cops or more", and "Who protects us from you?" I have done my own exploration (silent competition) on this issue with the two songs previous along with:
I Self Devine-"Officer Down" with Brother Ali (Self Destruction Mixtape 2005):
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-Officer-Down-full-version-featuring-Brother-Ali.mp3|titles=01 Officer Down (full version) featuring Brother Ali]
Micranots-Rookie vs. Steel Toe" Featuring Slug ("Emperor & The Assassin" 2003):
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/05-Steel-Toe-vs.-The-Rookie-feat-Slug-of-Atmosphere.mp3|titles=05 Steel Toe vs. The Rookie feat Slug (of Atmosphere)]
I Self Devine-"Know Your Rights" (from "The Sounds of Low Class America" 2011):
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-Know-Your-Rights.mp3|titles=01 Know Your Rights]
I'm trying to see how many songs I can make about cops. I'm aiming for like 50 joints, a double CD, nah mean!!!
I gotta throw Main Source "Friendly Game of Baseball"in there for good measure ("take that, take that", in P.Diddy voice from Hypnotized by B.I.G):
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/05-Just-A-Friendly-Game-of-Baseball-1.mp3|titles=05 Just A Friendly Game of Baseball 1]
The issue of police and there role in our society is complex.
I was two years removed from LA and incarcerated when the 92 rebellion took place. I was angry at the Rodney King verdict and mad I wasn't present to channel my outrage. When I was released I remember talking to people back home about the conditions after the initial uprising and they spoke of the possibilities of peace and unity reminiscent of the fertile conditions that allowed The Panthers to prosper in LA after the Watts uprisings in 65. I also began to hear stories leak out of officers, mainly C.R.A.S.H Unit (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums), dressed as gang members committing crimes against other gangs to instigate violence during the truce which is also mentioned in the documentary Bastards of the party. The investment in crime and more policing is big business. If there is no crime, police have no jobs. I wonder how many police are truly invested in peace and structural and institutional change vs. checking in or out doing their jobs and getting a paycheck (a functionary)? If there were factory workers working in inhumane conditions with no benefits or union they couldn't go to the police to report a crime against their employer. Yet if the workers decided they were going to organize a peaceful demonstration or public action against the factory employers demanding fair treatment and wages 9 times out of 10 the bosses are going to call the squads in.
9 steps used to seize power in a Democracy
1. Create a terrifying enemy inside and outside
2. Create force labor camps/penal detention- a place for political prisoners, repress opposition
3. Create/develop a system that creates a social class of criminals
4. Internal surveillance
5. Harass citizen groups
6. Control the press
7. Target key individuals
8. To think different or to disagree equals betrayal or treachery
9. Suspend rule of law
The role of the police
The role of police is to enforce the class, racial, sexual, and cultural oppression that has been an integral part of the development of capitalism in America. As long as this function remains, any strengthening of the powers of the police, any movement toward greater efficiency or sophistication in their methods must be seen as inherently contrary to the interests and needs of the majority of the people in this country and in any countries where the U.S police system penetrates. In The 1967 Report of the President's Crime Commission they recognized that "The police did not create and cannot resolve the social conditions that stimulate crime", and "our economy is not geared to provide criminals with jobs"
Origin of police in America
The earliest form of the modern American police lies in the southern slave patrols. Since slaves were the dominant mode of production and the plantation owners ruled the legislature of each southern state they came up with the slave codes in 1712. The slave codes provided brutal slave patrols, protected plantation owners property rights in human beings and in held slaves despite their chattel status, legally responsible for misdemeanors and felonies. The patrols, usually consisting of 3 armed men on horse back covering a beat of 15 square miles , were charged with maintaining discipline, catching runaway slaves, preventing slave insurrections, and enforcing laws on slave literacy trade and gambling. Although the law called on all White males to perform patrol services, the large owners usually paid fines or hired substitutes, leaving patrolling to the landless or small land holding whites. These whites hated the owners who controlled the best land and access to markets, almost as much as the slaves. The slaves resisted the patrollers with warning system and ambushes. When the slave rebellions reached its peak in 1811, the state militia and regular army supplemented the slave patrols. Policing in its earliest years, developed as a planter class strategy of race and class control, designed both to keep the Black slaves conquered and controlled and to make more violent and severe the contradictions between Black slaves and poor Whites. After the Civil war the slave codes reestablished policing practices changing "slave patrols" into "police stations". In the North and West, Native Americans who inhabited the desired land posed the first police problems. In the large cities like Philly, NY, Boston, and Baltimore the growing number of merchants, lawyer, wealthy urban class, and political leaders established night watches, paid for by the city to guard their warehouses and homes recruited from the class least involved in productive labor. If this is the origin of the Police, how can we expect justice or be mad or surprised out the outcomes. To make matters worse, Police weren't fully integrated until the 60’s-70’s when they needed more color on staff in order to infiltrate the new emerging groups like The American Indian Movement, Young Lords, Brown Berets, and the Black Panthers. You’re offered a job opportunity at the expense of your community and people.
On the low I think about this topic every other day, if not everyday, based on my upbringing and my collective history/memory/legacy. I think about why it is like this, how did it start and what are the possible solutions? Is a police-less society in capitalist America realistic? Do we create community police system using the same districting as the city council since most police don't live where they police? What I do know is what's in place is not working from my perspective. As well as how we respond to the issues of police brutality as a community. It's hard to get someone involved with prosecuting the police if they haven't been abused themselves. People are aware of the problems yet want no parts of it for fear of harassment. Unfortunately, people get involved after someone has been beat, shot or killed. So there's no proactive strategy in place. We usually have the knee jerk reaction to hold a press conference or a protest, when those tactics by themselves haven't been effective in 40 years. What ever the plans are, they need to have a multi tiered approach. Something aimed at visible decision makers that can shape political agendas and policies, while shaping peoples understanding of the issues and how it affects them providing possibilities and visions for change. The point of any one campaign is not just to win the specific demands, but in the course of the campaign to develop political consciousness and a sense of solidarity amongst the people involved so that we can advance toward bigger demands and broader change. Something that combines the traditional organizing, popular education, and Action education approach. Something that could engage people in action around power, develop a critical consciousness for social transformation that combines structural analysis and strategic action to shift power to advance social justice. This topic was inspired by the events taking place with Jason Yang, Fong Lee, Tycel Nelson, Abuka, Courtney Williams, and countless others.