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T’Shaun’s Letter

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

My name is T’Shaun and I live in Flatbush. I just have a little to say about what’s been going on in Brooklyn these past couple of weeks.

For some background, on March 9th a 16-year old boy, Kimani “Kiki” Gray, was shot by police seven times and killed. I didn’t know the kid, but I live in the area, and have been to all the protests/uprisings/whatever you want to call them, and attended the funeral a few days back. Here’s my take on the situation from someone who was on the ground:

The facts of the incident are pretty straightforward and play out just like pretty much every time there is an occurrence of this sort: cop approaches a kid, there’s a confrontation, kid gets shot, cop gets suspension WITH pay. Afterwards, cop uses vague words like “suspicious” or “questionable” and alleges that the kid has a gun or knife, (which then turns out to be a wallet or a phone) and the press blames the whole thing on the victim. Case closed.

In this particular scenario there was a twist, in that the cops were undercover, plainclothes and driving an unmarked car. On top of that, they never identified themselves as they approached the group of kids that Kimani was hanging out with, despite how late in the evening it was. The rest fits the regular profile–Kimani was shot seven times, twice in the back, and was murdered on the street. Both of the cops involved in the case had been accused in prior incidents for illegally accosting people with no cause—they were never charged, however, as is always the case with the NYPD and virtually every other police force.

What happened next was no less than revolutionary. At a vigil two days after the killing, other young Flatbush residents decided that the status quo was not enough and they began, en masse, to confront the cops about their violent role in their community. By March 13th, the streets were full of black militants (NOT a bunch of white activists as the bullshit press and local centrist politicians claim) speaking out against the oppression in their neighborhoods. Since then, bottles have been thrown at cops, there have been dozens of arrests and the white activist community has indeed joined in an uneasy alliance with the black and Latino kids who started the whole thing in the first place. (Not uneasy because we aren’t fighting for similar things, but rather because there is still a deep, unspoken racism that pervades ALL of American society, including whites who are politically motivated. I hung out with some of these folks, they seemed pretty nice, but they were quite happy to find out I was a college student, that made them relax a whole lot.)

Having a bigger group of people is obviously important for change, but remembering that we started this thing and aren’t going to take directions from people who don’t live in our communities is equally important. Solidarity yes, but we need to remember who got the fire going: the people who are being beaten down not just by the system, but by the cops in front of our homes too.

So my question for you is this, Mr.Capitalism: are you scared?

Dear Shaun,

Am I scared? Of a bunch of poor black kids throwing some bottles at the most heavily armed police force in the history of the US? Scared when we’ve already locked up 2 million people and are building more prisons to house you and all of your delinquent friends for the next 100 years? Was I scared of Martin Luther King? Of Malcolm X? The Black Panthers?

I say this to you niggers people: I am not scared of you nor will I ever be. I know that the cops are here for me, to defend my property and my rights, not to protect your right to protest. That’s something they did in the sixties, didn’t we get rid of all that years ago? Stop wasting your time, go out and buy some shoes or some smart phones or whatever distracts you, that’s why we came up with all this stuff in the first place!

If you rebel, we will crush you. Beat you at your rallies, slander you in the press that I own, and shoot you in the streets if we have to. I’ll also make sure to pay off your leaders to call for “reform” or “peace,” and then once the whole thing has blown over, I’ll punish anyone who so much as suggested insurrection.

Plus, like any self-respecting businessman, I have a whole army of mercenaries at the ready. They walk me from my house to my car, from my car to my office, and then home again at the end of the day. Does that sound like someone who is scared? Cautious maybe, you know I don’t want to take any chances, but I’m not gonna be scared of you.

If all else fails, I’ll cry “law and order,” the middle class always buy that one, then I’ll flood the streets with thousands more cops and wipe you off the face of the Earth.

So, wanna call a truce?



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