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Modern Day Vigilantes: Stop And ‘Risk’

3 min read

The evolution of change is usually the result of slow transformation; the wheel led to wagons; the wagons led to cars, cars led to rockets and rockets led to video games.  The announcement of Michael Bloomberg into the race for the Democratic nomination for President will inevitably stir some issues in the African American community that his throat clogging apology will not help.  If you ask a question about Michael Bloomberg on the streets of New York City, Stop and Frisk will be the answer. As the mayor of NY stop and frisk was a suppressive and oppressive fear tactic targeted at communities of color.  The Fourth Amendment requires that before stopping the suspect, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed by the suspect.   

Fortunately,  in 2013 a federal court judge ruled the practice, expanded by then-mayor, Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s, obviously violated the Constitution. New Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered an appeal of the ruling, but the incoming and new administration dropped the appeal in 2014.  Conveniently, before a packed black Brooklyn church congregation, a week before his announcement for president Mr. Bloomberg said he did not understand what the policy meant and how it affected the communities of color. “I didn’t understand that back then, the full impacts that (police) stops were having on the Black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives. But as we know, good intentions aren’t good enough,” Bloomberg said.  Pardon my skepticism but in 2013 in opposition to the current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to stop the policy, Bloomberg said, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they say.”

I promised this story would be about evolution and it is. Donald Trump praised and promised to fulfill the Giuliani dream of harassing black and brown faces into submission, during his 2016 campaign for President.  That policy has evolved and metastasized into what has become a daily story of ordinary citizens, with cell phones in hand and wearing indignation on their sleeves stopping and demanding papers from black citizens: black kids selling water, black men moving into apartments, black parents photographing their children on sidewalks and black college kids falling asleep in study halls.  

Lest you think this is all funny and innocent misunderstandings, ask the family of Botham Jean who was shot to death by a Texas police officer while eating ice cream in his apartment.  Ask the parents of  Renisha McBride a 19-year-old black woman shot in the head for the crime of seeking help, and if you think this is a new phenomenon ask the mother of Emmett Till.  In the modern era, the nuts and bolts of the 1994 Crime Bill help construct the wheels of power that pulled the wagon of Giuliani and Bloomberg.  The car keys were passed to Donald Trump and he added rocket fuel.  His followers are looking to power the engine into the future.  

How does that turning wheel affect me…

well, I have young black men in my family serving in this country’s military, I have young black men and women as sons and daughters, and I have younger future black men and women who are in the path of those racist wheels. Evolution is a forward movement, not a vigilante movement of Making America Great (White) Again.

Vote in 2020 for Change.


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