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A Folk-rap-rock Police State Opera for Ferguson & beyond (with libretto)

We all must be hearing music when witnessing militarized police assassinations and crackdowns on protests, journalists, and dissidents of any flavor.  Here are some of mine. Were I a victim of the same rather than an observer, they might be different; who can say?  What do you hear? 

And let us please, not forget Jackson State, two killed and twelve others shot by National Guard and many other ‘security agencies’ two days later; few were even aware of it.  LA 1992 after the Rodney King verdict, 50 dead, 2000 injured before it was over.  Detroit ’67, Watts ’65, Harlem ’64…and the beat goes on.  But it must stop.

#TWIBnation (This Week in Blackness, apparently), one of the few black journalist organizations on the ground in Ferguson.  Warning: it’s hideous, but all sound, no video.  You may be feelin’ this afterward:

Seen on Twitter:

 “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

~ Commander William Adama (Battlestar Galactica)

And close to: “Why do white people keep telling us how we should act in the face of all this racist shit?”

A new heart-rending release by J Cole:

Beyond Ferguson?  Oh, yes; police have been murdering all sorts of rabble with virtual impunity: Latinos, First Americans, even many white homeless and mentally ill.  It’s not just a race war, it’s a class war.  And any of might be next, a point lost of far too many because they are content with the status quo so far, no?

Who will protect us from the people who are supposed to protect us?

Rarely though, in all the fray, have I heard the capitalist system itself mentioned at being one of the main causes, save for Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report.  Given that I believe it is, I went looking for both music and thoughts to ballast that idea.

From, a couple snippets:

The events in Ferguson, Missouri over the past ten days mark a political turning point for the entire country. The immense scale of social inequality, the ruthlessness of the financial aristocracy, the disintegration of American democracy—all have been exposed in the execution-style police killing of unarmed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown and the vicious crackdown on protests that erupted in response.

At the heart of all the social and democratic issues raised in Ferguson is the nature of the capitalist system. No struggle against inequality and the police state apparatus in America can be successful unless it is based on the understanding that what is involved is a struggle against the entire social and economic order.  [snip]

Obama’s by now ritualistic references, repeated again on Monday, to ‘one united American family’ with a ‘common humanity’ cannot hide the reality of life in the United States. These platitudes are issued by a president who has worked to further enrich the corporate and financial aristocracy through a redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top on a historically unprecedented scale. As for ‘humanity,’ it was Obama who issued the immortal lines at a press conference earlier this month that ‘we tortured some folks,’ while making clear that nothing would be done to hold accountable those who ordered or carried out the torturing.

Regardless of Obama’s demagogy and lies, social and political reality finds expression in popular consciousness. The anger on the streets of Ferguson is an expression of sentiments felt deeply throughout the country. It is an anger over not only police violence, but over unemployment, poverty, inequality and the relentless assault on the social conditions of the entire working class.

And of course I went to the great Boots Riley:

‘My relationship with OPD has been like one big diss
Long arm of the law, grips my dick so tight it’s hard to even piss
So I forgot ain’t even got a pot to do it in
Up at the church they’re tellin me it’s because I live in sin
So I grin, but nevertheless my mind won’t dwell
I must be trippin cause I thought I was livin in hell
Capitalism is like a spider, the web is getting tighter
I’m struggling like a fighter, just to bust loose
It’s like a noose asyphyxiation sets in
Just when I think I’m free it seems to me the spider steps in
This web is made of money made of greed made of me
Of what I have become in a parasite economy’

Yes, when one is considered chattel for the cradle-to-prison pipeline profiteers, scarcely worth educating in many inner-city areas, participation in the voluntary military de facto jobs program’, or in any way ‘disposable but annoying’, you may be a target of the Kill First; Brook No Questions Later’ po-po’s., whether local, state, DEA, FBI, or what have you.

Michael Franti (the early version of himself) saw it more globally, and traveled to Iraq and the West Bank (iirc) to bear witness; he wrote his pain.

And yet, there are those with some measure of hope for the future as solidarity builds nationwide and worldwide.  In ABQ and Oakland, constant and increased pressure will be needed to effect true justice in policing.  Perhaps as more and more are affected by rotten policing, and awareness grows that we sincerely must be each other’s keepers…


 ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’

~ Desmond Tutu

Cross-posted soon at Café

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