“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” Is Our Song

The hash tag, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” has been the national and international words heard and seen around the world during the past week as everyone wants to know why an 18-year-old unarmed black male, Michael Brown Jr, was killed by a Ferguson, MO policeman. “No Peace, No Justice” runs a close second as the unrest since this senseless and unexplainable murder has occurred. Unable to pen anything on this event until now, I wish to share my experience with you from yesterday, August, 16, 2014.

It was a rainy and cloudy day as I found myself en route to pick up my grandson, also named Michael for a little adult male and teen bonding time as Michael was seeking to earn some money for his school supplies. Can’t mow the grass because it wet. What the heck, this is a big day for the over “sixty crowd” as we have a scheduled barbeque luncheon beginning at noon and “Big Mike” as he is sometime called, like the late Michael Brown, Jr., is willing to work, hence I thought he could help out setting up the tables, and assisting for our upcoming event. It would also give me a chance to get “inside of his head” to see and hear what he was thinking.

“What do you think about the Michael Brown Case?’ I asked as Michael settle in for our short ride. Michael is sixteen years old and will be starting his junior high year this week. He “thinks” I am his hero, but in actually he is mines. I remember him beating on the back seat of the car as his “granny” and I drove around. He would beat on anything and everything. Now some 12 years later Michael is an “accomplish drummer” with local churches bidding for his services. I have problems at church worship services as I am amazed watching him beating the drums and so into the execution of his craft.

“They did not have to shoot him in the back ten times.” Michael responded. Game on. I dig in for my openings. “Who said he was shot ten times in the back?” Michael like other teens and preteens keeps his cell phone on and is in tune and in touch with social media, especially when the girls are not texting him and the million other things that keep teenagers busy. Michael open up the door for further questions as “he” brings up the video. My Michael comes to Michael Brown Jr’s defense, stating that it was possible that the video was not even Michael and if it was it still did not justify him being killed. I asked Michael if he had heard of the old axiom, “two wrongs don”t make a right” and we parked there for a while.

“What would your granny say if she was driving down the street and observed you walking in the middle of the street?” Michael had no problem responding correctly knowing his grandmother who would say “Have you lost your mind? probably after using a few expletives deleted on him. I am now ready for digging a little deeper into his young tender mind. We switch gears and discuss the cigarillos and Michael Brown Jr’s alleged shop-lifting that was allegedly caught on camera. “If it is not yours, don’t …what?” I asked. “Don’t take it” Michael replies as he finish the statement. We have returned back to the “two wrongs don’t make a right” and Michael agrees that what we are discussing was learned at day care.Ten minutes later we are busy removing the card board packing from the one hundred new chairs that have been neatly set out at the tables. I have introduced Michael to one of my best friends, Larry, the former police chief of this city and now the director of public safety. I had explained earlier to Michael that as police chief Larry stressed that if you broke the law, you had to pay and it did not matter whose name you dropped, even if it was me dropping Larry’s name as my friend, the chief.

I am off to the local Family Dollar Store to purchase a roll of duct tape for the plastic covering on the tables as instructed by our host. It is still raining as I observed two young black male adults taking their smoke break. I take the liberty to invade “their” space as they greet me in a respectful manner which greatly surprises me. “What do you think about the Michael Brown Case?” I asked. The young brother to my left is sporting a fresh new haircut and it looks good on him. No pants sagging and both brothers appear to be no stranger to conducting an honest day’s work. Like Michael, my grandson, they respond about the unjustifiable killing, the video and others events surrounding the rioting and looting. Like Michael, the grandson, they responded to my inquiries in like fashion. How their parents would rail against them for walking in the middle of the street. Obeying their parents by not taking anything that did not belong to them.  We also discussed  the old age axiom, “two wrongs don’t make a right” as they agreed that nothing justified the police killing an unarmed black 18-year-old male. I was impressed as I left as “they” waved goodbye to me and said “thanks” I thought, “thanks” for “what.” Because I took a few minutes and asked them what they thought.

We have a little down time as I returned with the duct tape. I felt no need to duct tape the tables as there would be no draft blowing the plastic covering off of the tables.. Larry agrees with me but our host is a “hard task master.” He believed in being obedient. Well I did what he told me and purchase the duct tape. He didn’t tell “me” to duct tape the tables so I am on safe ground and Larry agrees. The rain continues and it a good thing that this is an indoor event. Our host is still gone and we have caught up on some of the work. The murder of Michael Brown Jr, become the topic of discussion as those in attendance now include Charles who is here to purchase a few tickets. Joe Jo later arrives.

Larry is a Vietnam Veteran,  a former police chief and retired postal employee. He tells how he was followed for “six months” while driving through Creve Coeur, MO, an affluent community of St. Louis County on his way to work at the postal office. He informs me and Charles how the police followed him every morning until he actually walked into the postal office. Charles explained how he was followed by the police for several months while headed home in a white community. How his license plate sticker expired and he was a day late placing the new sticker on his car. “I was stopped by the police and the police informed me my sticker had expired.” stated Charles. “”I told him that I had the sticker and showed it to him.” Charles stated that the police informed him he would be checked again “tomorrow” and if the sticker was not on he would be getting a ticket. Mind you this is before the term  “racial profiling” was coined.

We talk about the discrimination we experienced right in our community when all the black children where in one class together and all the white student in their separate class. How we had our first black school employee who served in the cafeteria. “The school district thought she was white.” responded Larry. Larry went on to tell how she had to introduce her husband as her “porter” as he was black and people back in those days could be killed if a black man was married to a white woman. Later, Lawrence, the first-born to the cafeteria employee confirmed Larry’s story about his mother and father. Lawrence became the “first black” principle of the high school and his father earlier became the first black school board member.

It is now time for me to pick up the pasta and  Michael accompanies me. While listening to the Mellisa Harris Perry of MSNBC, the topic again is on Michael Brown Jr., and the unrest and call for justice. Mrs Perry sign off asking three of her black male guest to respond in “one word” what it means to be a black male in America. The first two responded with one word a “threat.” The third male chimes in and stated “hopelessness.”  My Michael has earned money for his school supplies and I only hope that our day has been well spent and the seeds for thought have fallen on fertile ground.

Michael Brown Jr., Trayvon Martin and the Michaels and Trayvons that have came before them and the ones that will come after them are our children. They have become the retro Emit Tills of our day, as we cry out for justice. The Michael Brown Jr murder, execution, or what ever adjective one place before after his name have become an event and movement bigger than Michael. You might not like the looting and the rioting, but America’s black youth with the hash tag “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” are also saying, “we know, that you know, that we know.” Justice delayed is justice denied. There is ONE who is making a video of us ALL.