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.