On November 24th I call my two oldest sons, JJ (9) and Jemal (5), into the living room. I ask them what they know about Mike Brown. They both say that he was killed by the police, but that’s all they know. So I give them the points that matter:
One of them then asked, “Why did he shoot him?”
“I have no clue,” I replied. “In a few minutes, they are going to have a press conference to tell us if they are going to charge the police officer with a crime. Did you guys want to look at it?”
They both said yes. At around 9:30, the wife turns to CNN, and we sit there watching the talking heads go back and forth with Anderson Cooper about absolutely nothing. They speculate about what’s going to happen while, at the same time, telling everyone to not speculate about the outcome. By the way, one of my next articles is going to be about how I hate TV news.
Finally, at 10:15 pm, Prosecutor Robert McCulloch comes out and holds a 20-30 minute press conference telling everyone in the world that we were stupid, the press is to blame, and Officer Wilson was justified to kill Mike Brown. In other words, there won’t be a trial. In between, my wife has a look of disbelief and anger on her face. JJ kept saying that, “He’s not saying anything.” I felt neither.
The truth is that I would have been surprised if Darren Wilson had been charged. The fact it took so long to “investigate and present” told me that something was funny; however, even if it did, I was very skeptical of the outcome, e.g., Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant.
My wife and I talked a little about it, I checked the Facebook timeline, unfriended a couple of folks for saying stupid shit, and then I worked on the script for my next film. While doing all of this, something else was bothering me, but I couldn't put my finger on it. The next day it was much of the same, and now I was getting seriously irritated. Have you ever had an itch in the middle of your back, and, no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't get your hand to the spot to scratch it? That fucking itch lasted for 2 more days.
Then, as I’m cutting the Brussels sprouts in half so that they can marinate for a while in time to be sauteed for our Thanksgiving Day feast, it came to me. In the midst of all of this anger, all of this pain, and all of this mistrust for each other; In the middle of Liberals and Conservatives battling through social media, while Blacks and Whites flee to familiar corners and arguments; With protesters in Ferguson feeling that their efforts were in vain; All of this is going on and no one has said what all of this shit is really about...precedent.
The precedent of a police officer being able to shoot an unarmed person in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, from 148 feet away, call it a justifiable homicide, and not be charged. People: this is not a Black or White issue. This is something more heinous and calculating. This is about our inevitable transition to the Police State. I know I sound crazy to you. Shit I sound crazy to me.
However, the days and nights that immediately followed the killing of Mike Brown is evidence of this in the footage of the Ferguson Police Department in full military gear (minus the tanks) accosting both peaceful protesters and the press who were there covering the story. It seemed like something that would be off of the front of the World section of The Wall Street Journal happening in a far off third world dictatorship. I sat watching videos posted by folks there on the front lines, wondering how in the hell could this happen in America and how did Ferguson get this equipment? Why is it that no one’s said anything about this? Then I Googled it and realized they had.
According to a June 8th New York Times Article, The Department of Defense has been supplying military grade equipment to Police Departments all over the country. Things like mine resistant armored vehicles, M-16’s, and silencers are what they’re going to be using to “serve and protect”.
By the way, most of these places that are buying this stuff from the government are suburbs, so if you think that “Black Thugs” from the ghetto are the only ones being affected by this, then you may need to rethink your position.
Wise the fuck up folks!
I'm not going to lie, it's been very hard to process the Michael Brown killing as a man (not just a Black one), a father (not just a Black one), and an artist; however, thanks to Killa Mike's interview on The Breakfast Club, it's even harder to process as an American citizen. I won't recap it because it would do his words a huge disservice, but one of the things that he basically pointed out is that we, as Americans, should be grateful, protective, and appreciative of the rights that are afforded to us by the US Constitution.
Fast forward a couple of days...
The wife and the kids are off to bed, and I'm hoping to be there soon also. So I wind down with my last bottle of Shock Top and music from the great Afro-French composer and violinist, Le Chevalier Saint-Georges. Then Mike Bigga's words echoed in the corner of my mind, “All of our rights are effected”.
Suddenly I changed from chilling out and getting ready for bed to stimulating my mind so that I can write this article while I still have the bug. First, I took the rest of my beer to the head, and then switched from my Saint-Georges playlist to my Beethoven one that began with “Moonlight Sonata.”
I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and imagine the words forming into sentences as I attempt to explain my Killa Mike inspired view on what's going down in Ferguson, which isn't that hard really. The challenge for me is to express to suburban America (not just White Folks) how the series of events inspired by a Black kid from the hood being executed by a police officer in the broad day affects them also. I have to figure out how to convince them that law enforcement agencies with military grade equipment at their disposal is a threat to all of our civil liberties. That what happened in Ferguson can and will happen in Glendale if we don't stand together and draw the line in the sand now.
So I decided to take them on a history lesson.
After 9/11, everyone was clamboring for answers and protection. So Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a bill that was designed to “strengthen” national security. On Oct 24th, 2001, The House passed the Act 357 to 66, and The Senate passed it the next day 68 to 1. This is how The Patriot Act became law.
There have been parts of this law disputed...and rewritten...and ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court; however, the fact remains that The Patriot Act, in its most stripped down form, altered our basic civil rights afforded to us by The United States Constitution.
Think about this: It is now legal to intercept your communications without a court order. This includes hardline and cell communications, voicemails, emails, and your social media accounts. They can get your login times on your computer from your ISP.
It gives the already powerful National Security Letter even more. An NSL is a demand for the release of information and paperwork related to a person under investigation. Under The Patriot Act, an NSL can be issued for US citizens and contains a gag order. This means that you won't know that you're under investigation, and, if you do find out that you are, you can't talk to anyone about it. All of this could be done without any kind of judicial review or probable cause.
All in all, the Patriot Act is over 300 pages of complex jargon that threatens many of our civil liberties afforded by The Constitution. You would think that there would be countless hours of debate and philabustering on the floors of Congress. In reality, this law passed in 48 hours. The House passed it with 357 votes, and the Senate only had 1 vote against. Thank God for Russ Feingold.
Here's the kicker. The general public, still spooked about the destruction of the Twin Towers, embraced The Patriot Act. Congress' and the President's approval ratings went up almost instantly. Yeah, there were opponents that brought up how unconstitutional the law was, many were the politicians that voted for it; however, the damage was already done, and, even with the Supreme Court ruling parts of The Patriot Act unconstitutional, American citizens gave up their right to privacy.
Still the vast majority of Americans didn't seem to care about it because we were fighting a “war on terror.” After all, the Patriot Act was meant to protect us and catch terror cells before they attacked. “We're law abiding American citizens, not terrorists. They won't check our emails, and listen in on our phone calls.” Then we found out they did.
Last year, The Guardian published an article on how the NSA had been collecting the daily phone records of millions of Verizon customers that make calls in the US or between the US and other countries. From the court order, it seemed that it had been happening for a while and renews every 90 days, and that it was a bulk collection. Also, from the general language, many believed that the same order was issued to Sprint, AT&T, and other carriers operating or doing business on American soil. Additionally, it has since been revealed that the Feds monitor Facebook pages, phish accounts through email to gain access to cameras and listening devices on computers, and who knows what else.
Now everyone is up in arms attempting to invoke their Right to Privacy, conveniently ignoring that 13 years ago, our country gave that up because they thought it would stop “terrorists,” aka Middle Eastern Muslims.
Fast forward to now...
There are a lot of people in this country who have sided with the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Michael Brown. Why? One can only assume. Maybe they’re unconditional supporters of the police. Maybe they are anti-smoking lobbyist that didn't appreciate him purchasing that box of cigars. Maybe they believe that walking in the middle of the street should be a capital crime. Or maybe...just maybe, they don't see an issue with the police killing a Black teenager.
Whatever the reason, I would say to those people, beware the day that your son is shot while in a surrender position. Fear that when you protest, your suburban police department will happily whip out their military equipment purchased from our very own Department of Defense. Know they will fire on the crowd, at reporters, at other residents just standing outside of their home, and accuse them of being the aggressor when all accounts prove that they are not. Understand that they will disgrace and defame your son with false truths and straight out lies. Watch and listen as radio hosts and news shows help them. Believe that your elected officials, from the president (did lowercase on purpose) down to your mayor, will do nothing to stop this atrocity. Then think about how you'll feel when there are people donating millions of dollars to your child's killer to show their support.
Then think back to that month in Ferguson, Missouri when you could've taken a stand to uphold the rights that are afforded to all Americans by The US Constitution.
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.
WHO IS QUANSTAR?
Quanstar is an American indie hip hop artist, filmmaker, and writer born in Compton. He currently resides in Atlanta. He is most known for his wordplay, DIY attitude, and work ethic.
Since 2001, he's released over 15 albums, a documentary, has a comic series out, wrote and produced his first feature film, and has a cooking show with his sons.
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