Bob Marley’s famous song “I Shot the Sheriff” carries a great deal of meaning. We know the Sheriff should have been indicted posthumously. If only body camera footage had been used during that particular time. On the other hand, it might not have mattered given the fact that we are presented with so many short films today with police starring in recurring roles that involve the killing of Black and Brown people. The release of these short films becomes quite formulaic. The incident happens. The authorities refuse to release the movie. There is public pressure. The movies are released. We see Sheriff John Brown prototypes time and time again murdering a Black civilian using extremely excessive force. Moreover, we learn that the Sheriff Brown prototypes are still on the police force working as if nothing has happened. We see them summarily executing Black people, but no charges are filed. The screenplay usually reads: The officer(s) was/were justified in the actions taken in order to protect life.
Sheriff John Brown’s actions were very terrible. However, it is Sheriff John Brown’s worldview that is chilling and should give reason to pause and demand better. Marley said of Sheriff John Brown, “Every time I plant a seed, he says kill it before it grows.” Every type of negativity is associated with the Black community. It has been reported and recorded that we are lazy, shady, violent, prurient, stupid, crazy, lack self-control. One hundred years ago a prosperous Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma was destroyed by a mob composed of lazy, shady, violent, prurient, stupid, crazy, people who lacked self-control. Did the Black community of Greenwood destroy themselves? No. This community was destroyed by their White neighbors from Tulsa. More than three hundred Black people were murdered. Homes and businesses were burned and bombed. One can simply say that the Black community of Greenwood was razed by a White mob. To this very day, no one has been held accountable. How is that possible in a nation that prides itself on being a nation of laws?
George Orwell published a novel in 1948 entitled 1984 When it was first published, the year nineteen eighty-four seemed so far off in the distant future. I first read 1984 in high school when I was about fifteen years old. The book left such an impression, that to this very day it is still one of favorite books of all time. I keep coming back to it time and time again. One can say that the book was prophetic even if it falls just short of prophecy. Most of time when I hear references made to Orwell it has to do with surveillance aspects of 1984 and the government erosion of privacy. That idea is prominent in the book. However, there is another nefarious aspect of the books that is being put on full display by the Republican Party in America during the first quarter of the twenty-first century. In 1984 authorities constantly rewrote history in order to suit the government’s purpose. That is what Republicans are about today. I began this article with a mention about the Tulsa Massacre in 1921in which a White mob destroyed an entire Black community. The current Republican Governor of Oklahoma just signed legislation banning the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” in Oklahoma schools. Republicans do not want the real history of racial bigotry to be taught. At some point we expect them to say that the fires in Greenwood were started just like the great Chicago fire. Somebody’s cow knocked over a lantern and the whole community went up in flames along with about thirty dead souls. Of course, one of the more blatant lies being constructed by Republicans is that the 2020 Presidential Election was riddled with fraud causing Trump the election. Therefore, Republican legislators must pass laws restricting voting in order secure the vote. State legislators are also being given the power to not accept election results in the event that Republicans fall short the needed votes to win.
Another area of concern has to do with the written police reports addressing the killing of a Black person. When New York City police took down Amadou Diallo with forty-one shots and no return fire, they told us that they thought Diallo was reaching for a gun when he reached for his wallet. Why did he reach for his wallet surrounded by police? Did someone ask him for his ID? I doubt that he reached for anything at all. This is just the story they gave us. If a young girl in Minnesota, who was close to my age when I first read 1984, had not taped Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd, the police report said Floyd died due to a medical emergency. Recent video footage of Louisiana State Police killing a Black motorist does not match the police report. The police report says the motorist died or received serious injuries from a car crash. When Sheriff John Brown meets Big Brother, you get Whites in authority who are willing to destroy Black lives and liberty with no regret. They are also willing to lie about what have done.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) an is currently an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, and books: Oral Presidency and The American Political Narrative in addition to three collections of verse including Love Agnostic: The Eternal Protest.
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