|Ramblings Amid The Rumblings
1/15/2016 3:32:04 PM
By Barney Blakeney
I usually avoid writing about stuff it seems everybody and their mama are writing about. I mean, what’s the point? If everybody’s writing about it, it can’t be news. But Michael Slager’s release on bond, that’s a subject about which I feel I must add my two cents.
Slager’s January 4 release on $500,000 bond took most of us by surprise. I know I didn’t expect Judge Clifton Newman to renege on his earlier refusal to grant Slager bond on the murder charge he faces in the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. The former North Charleston cop was captured on video shooting Scott in the back as Scott ran away from him.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the supposition that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty entitles Slager to bond. But Newman’s earlier decision to deny Slager bond based on Slager’s potential as a danger to the community and as a flight risk, I thought made sense. Besides, isolation at the jail might have been the safest place for Slager.
Aside from the presumption of innocence, nothing else about the evidence against Slager made me think he should get bond. The January 7 police shooting of Philadelphia, Pa. policeman Jesse Hartnett has been described as chilling and stunning. Well, the video of Slager shooting Scott is no less chilling. So much so in fact, I wonder how his supporters among North Charleston’s corp of officers could openly stand up for Slager at the bond hearing.
I understand what it is to stand in support of a comrade. I grew up in Charleston communities where standing up for friends is expected and respected. But I learned a long time ago that you don’t stand for a friend when your friend is wrong. You don’t support injustice. Some things are obvious and Slager’s murder of Scott is obvious.
What is the public to think when North Charleston police officers stand in a show of support for Slager at his bond hearing? I’m no mind reader and I don’t know what they were thinking, but what does that say to the public? Especially a distrusting public?
The incidents of police shootings of black men by police officers around the country indicate that racial prejudice among police officers still exists. And the dynamics unfolding in the South Carolina legislature over the appointment of a state supreme court chief justice, to many, reveals that same racial prejudice exists in even higher levels of government.
Slager’s release on bond indicates to me black people should not expect justice from the law. From the legislature, to the courts to the cops on the streets, protection under the law always has and remains elusive to black folks. It’s no wonder young black folks are ready to take it to the streets to get justice.
I’m no advocate for violent response to the injustice in the courts and murder on the streets being perpetrated against black people in this community. But I’m not one to suggest that our young people who are being slaughtered by those who are supposed to nurture and protect them should not defend themselves.
Self appointed leaders in the black community may have been compromised. It doesn’t take much to compromise a negro - a pat on the head, an invitation to share lunch or a seat at the table - never mind that the decisions may already have been made. Just let a negro think he is part of the process and you’ve got him. And too many Negroes can be bought!
I don’t advocate violence and certainly I don’t advocate destroying ones own community. But I’m convinced that if not for some courageous black youths refusing to allow unreciprocated atrocities perpetrated against them back in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement would not have accomplished what it did. Peaceful marches played their roles, but so did the potential for unrestricted resistance.
Obviously our young black warriors can’t win a war of violent resistance against the superior forces they must face, so their fight must be strategic. I’ve always said the oppressor understands two things - butt kicking and economics. We won’t win the butt kicking fight, but there are other weapons at our disposal. Malcolm said it’s either the ballot or the bullet.
The upcoming elections are a time when young warriors can make their resistance felt. Arm yourself, prepare yourself to vote collaboratively to impact the future that will be yours. You also are a major force in this nation’s economy. Use that power more wisely than my generation has.
Me and them sell-outs who insist you wait on the same people who oppress you to grant your freedom will be dead and gone soon. You must create your own destiny. Be smart. And for God’s sake, be smarter than us.