I received the following note on Facebook:
“Bro. Asa, I’m also distressed about the recent killing of Kajieme Powell. I understand Police having to protect themselves but this young man was acting erratically and after viewing the video ; it looked like “suicide by cop”. Are the cadets trained on how to disarm someone acting in a bizarre manner who is probably mentally ill without killing him. One officer years ago told me that you can drop someone by shooting them in the legs/knees/arms. He’s never had to kill anyone. They cuffed this young man and it was clear that he was down and unable to attack anyone. I guess I’m wondering given your law enforcement expertise; (when you have the time) if you can address these issues on your blog. I also understand the precariousness of doing so given your profession. I would like to see more Officers with the intelligence, common sense and expertise of Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson! I feel like you do. Thanks for hearing me out!”
Dear Sis. Carolyn,
Like you I’m also distressed by the “executing” of our Black men and boys by the police.
As a Black man, a Black father of a young Black son and a Black police officer, I have a certain… maybe even an “unique” perspective… into these situations. However, I made a conscious decision to not do a blog post, so as to add to the deluge of intellectualized placebos from all quarters, which only real and lasting accomplishment is to further desensitize our society to the genocide being committed against those of African descent… those with black and brown skins… worldwide. The Word states that “there is nothing new under the sun”. It’s all been said, discussed and debated before, as well as now. The truth is that whether it’s 1614, 1714, 1814, 1914 or 2014, the terrorism that is white supremacy continues to be unleashed upon us, ironically even more so under the administration of the first USA “black” President and his “black” Attorney General.
However, as you are my sister and I know of the sincerity of your empathy, I will offer my “two cents” to you… to spend as you wish.
In the Kajieme Powell incident, what compounds the situation was the fact that he was mentally and emotionally disturbed. I don’t know about Kajieme’s personal history, but I do know that in an effort to reduce health care costs, there is a trend to release those with mental and emotional problems into society, when they actually should be in facilities that are adept in treating their conditions, or at least monitoring and stabilizing it with medication. They are being released into the custody of those who do love them, but aren’t capable in handling their conditions if it deteriorates. It then more often than not, becomes a police problem. However, police officers aren’t trained to be psychologists. Simply put: we’re trained to eliminate a threat with extreme prejudice… which means different things to different police officers. As a police officer in Canada, we’re specifically trained that when you’re dealing with someone who is mentally and emotionally disturbed, who is armed and making threats, including asking to be killed by the police, you’re dealing with one of the most erratic, irrational and dangerous situations you will ever face as a police officer. From what I know, this training is similar in the USA. Regardless of one’s training, the response to these situations is ultimately made by the individual officer(s). This response would be influenced by a number of factors such as the officer’s upbringing, how he/she is socialized and their resulting prejudices; their views on race, class, gender; as well as their own physical, mental and emotional abilities, capabilities and shortcomings, etc.
Looking at the video, it is my belief that other interventions could have been utilized before the decision to shoot and kill Kajieme became the final solution. Disengage, back up, contact family members, his social worker or mental health specialist etc, to speak with him. Get some police shields (from Ferguson) and rush him with an officer prepared to discharge a Taser to incapacitate him. I don’t want to be a “Monday morning arm chair quarterback” because I wasn’t there, but from what I can deduce from this situation, these are some of the options I personally would attempt or discuss with my fellow officers, before deciding that I had no other choice but to shoot and kill him. However, based on the training they (and I) have received, this would be classified as a justifiable, legal response to this situation… i.e., “a good shoot”. It is my opinion that any shooting by a police officer that takes the life of an individual, whatever the circumstances, certainly should be viewed as a tragedy for all parties involved. A “good shoot” is therefore an oxymoron.
As a “black” police officer, I’m so proud of Captain Ron Johnson and how he is handling the crisis in Ferguson. I understand and empathize with the trials, tribulations, as well as the emotions he’s going through. He’s in a tough position as most people… both white and black… want him for their own self interests, to fail in bringing some peace and order to the community… a community he grew up in. It’s bad enough that his (white) superiors and (white) colleagues have been pulling stunts to undermine him every step of the way, but that’s expected. What annoys me most are the pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists, sitting in the safety of their homes, in their comfortable swivel arm chairs in-front of a computer, discrediting and referring to him as an “uncle tom”, “sellout”, “token” and “stooge of the white man sent to pacify the negroes”.
What these pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists don’t understand, which I do, is that Captain Johnson is the shepherd keeping the wolves at bay, who are more than ready, willing and able… and are only waiting for the right opportunity to slaughter their prey. Believe me, I know of what I speak. I’ve been in policing situations where my presence and forceful intervention in certain situations, have prevented the shooting and possible death of a Black male, as well as saved some of them from being criminalized for minor indiscretions. What these pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists fail to realize, which I do, is that the military equipment deployed against the peaceful protesters was not a show of force, but a use of force. It was only by the grace of God that one of the trigger happy cops didn’t start shooting into the protesters, which would have caused a conditioned natural chain reaction by the other cops to start shooting too. It would have resulted into another Sharpeville massacre. Believe me, I know of what I speak. I was on a tactical emergency task force. The reason these same pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists want Captain Johnson to fail, why they not so secretly welcome the slaughter of innocents, is the simple fact that it will provide the needed fodder for their next Facebook, Twitter and blog rhetoric and posts, which will undoubtedly bring more “hits” and notoriety to their sites.
Let me share an article with you about the shooting and killing of a mentally and emotionally disturbed teenager in Toronto, Canada by a police officer: “The Killing of Sammy Yatim”. It’s very informative on a number of different levels. First it shows the similarities in police training, in Canada and the USA, at handling these types of situations. More importantly, the article humanizes both the victim and the officer. Too often the media, particularly social media, demonizes and dehumanizes those they see as their adversaries. We need to always remember that both are human beings with families who suffer in their own way.
Let me also share with you a post I did in 2009 entitled: “A day of blogging for Justice – Standing up against the pre-trial electrocution”. It speaks for itself and further addresses your questions.
Finally I’ll end with the words of our musical prophets Bob Marley and Peter Tosh:
God continue to bless you my sister and provide you with the wisdom you’re ever seeking.
Franz Fanon in the Wretched of the Earth said, “The last battle of the colonized against the colonizer will often be the fight for the colonized against each other.”
Rwanda’s unrepentant refusal to talk with the DRC based, Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, eat many heads up in the region. Of late, the world evidenced the tug of war between Rwanda and Tanzania after President Jakaya Kikwete proposed round-table talks. Again, despite all misunderstandings, we need to face it that the conflict in the Great Lakes needs to be dealt with. For better or for worse, nothing human is forever. For how long will we live under fear and conflicts?
Currently, the US is in dialogue with the Talibans in Afghanistan. Israel and Palestine have recently resumed peace talks. This means that any conflict, be it protracted or otherwise, can be resolved. Reconciliation is the only way forward wherever there is conflict. Rwanda as well as DRC needs to move forward given that FDLR rebels will never live in DRC forever.
I understand how Kigali feels, especially when it remembers the magnitude of the sin that FDLR committed during the 1994 genocide that wiped out about one million Rwandans, Tutsi and moderate Hutus. I know how traumatizing it is to revisit such history. Importantly though, reconciliation is inevitable shall the region aspire to have peace and prosperity. Africa’s still dependent on its former masters and other rich and developed countries. How come now that such dependent continent is embarking on creating more conflict than reducing them? Again, history is always written by survivors. Methinks Rwanda should search its soul to see to it that the conflict is solved so that life can go on and write a new history of reconciliation.
Rwanda won’t be the first country to embark on reconciliation. Blacks in South Africa suffered more than any country under the Apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela who spearheaded fight against Apartheid was jailed for long. Again, after realizing that conflict can be used constructively to avoid more destruction, Mandela was the first person to forgive Apartheid regime after understanding the way it felt about what it committed. Through talking to each other, both parts in South Africa were able to read each other’s way of looking at things. In the end, South Africa made a precedent to which almost every peace lover refers to. African sage has it that, those who fight are the ones that cooperate. No way can human beings live without differences, conflicts and all sorts of things as far as misunderstandings are concerned. On this ground, it makes sense to call upon Rwanda and FDLR rebels to talk peace, instead of harbouring hatred and vengeance. Such stance won’t solve any problem. Instead, it’ll double if not triple them.
It defies logic, for example, to presume all Hutus as genociders. How if at all those born during or after genocide did not partake in this megalomania? Hutus who did not partake in the crime feel betrayed and victimized. Those judged wholesomely feel that they’ve the duty to cleanse their names. Those born in DRC, just like those who took over after Genocide, who were born in Uganda, think that they’d go back home. This is where it boils down to scheming to deal with current Rwandan regime either peacefully or violently. This is not the situation a country is supposed to live in. Why don’t we want to learn the menacing danger refugees in Uganda caused to Rwanda? Suppose DRC stabilizes and supports FDLR to take on their home government as Uganda did? This means that another calamity is in the making. This is why it becomes inevitable for two sides to talk and reconcile. How if at all, genocide was the work of a select few in power by then? Rwandans need peace. And peace will come from reconciliation.
I know verily that Kigali would like to respect the dead. Again, as Gerard Prunier put it in his book, The Rwanda Crisis; History of Genocide, “Respect of the dead does not preclude the efforts to understand why they died.” Such take helps us to seek truth and peace in order to avoid repeating the same in the name of preserving and honouring the dead.
Prunier goes on saying that Hutus and Tutsi were not created as cats and dogs. Allowing the conflict to shrive amidst Rwandans is but faulting God’s goodwill of endowing us with higher and bigger brains that make us humans and not animals. Sometimes, due to ignorance, fear and confusion, man can commit sacrilegious things that even an animal can’t commit. Again, once this happens, sane minds must intervene. This is why the international community formed Arusha-based ICTR. This aimed at punishing the guilty and redressing the offended. Now, if ICTR and Gacaca did punish the guilty, why then presume all Hutus as killers?
After all, genocide can be said to be the product of European eugenics, especially John Speke by proxy, that created Hutus and Tutsi for their reasons of exploiting them. It is absurd and indifference to keep on, for example, calling the 1994 genocide, genocide against Tutsi. So too, it’ll be nonsensical to keep on alleging that all Hutus committed genocide. To do away from this danger, Rwanda must willingly talk to rebels instead of feeling that the international community is forcing it to talk. The upshot is those situated out of the conflict, see it better than those involved in it.
This documentary covers Germany’s use of genocide, concentration camps and ‘extermination’ policies in Africa – decades before World War Two and their use in Europe.
A hundred years ago, three quarters of the Herero people of the German colony of Namibia were killed, many in concentration camps.
Today, the descendants of the survivors are seeking reparations from the German government. This film tells for the first time this forgotten story and its links to German racial theories.
Described by the BBC as the story of Germany’s forgotten genocide. This powerful documentary by David Adetayo Olusoga took a sensitive and uncompromising look at the tragic circumstances leading to the massacre of three quarters of the Namibia population in German concentration camps built in Africa.
The programme included graphic reconstructions and did not shirk from showing disturbing scenes which revealed the savagery of european colonial ideology put into practise.
Click on link: Namibia Genocide
Wrangles evidenced recently between Kenyan Judiciary and the executive over the ruling that Sudanese strong man, Omar Bashir, be apprehended shall he visit Kenya, left many analysts flabbergasted. One judge, Ncholas Ombija, made a historical ruling when ordered the Minister for Internal Security to see to it that when Bashir sets foot on Kenyan soil, he be apprehended and handed over to The Hague to face the music. We used to read about such rulings made by European judges, famous ones being those that were made by Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu, and French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, who in April 2008 and November 2006 respectively, indicted Rwandan President, Paul Kagame. When these two justices indicted Kagame, many people wrongly thought that this was a venue for only European judges. Now that Ombija has open Pandora’s Box for our bigwigs, who will be safe?
More on Kenyan justice, this historical ruling did not augur well with the executive. When cornered the vulture cries wolf. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs was quotes as saying that the government would not abide by the ruling of its own court. What a dangerous stance? The Minister went on saying that Kenya will abide by the position that was taken by AU opposing the indictment of Bashir. How can a free country endanger its freedom for the sake of an individual who is not its citizen? Legally and logically, the constitution of Kenya is above that of AU. Whatever Kenyans do, Kenya comes first. Even if we look at two international instruments playing in this fracas, why is Kenya upholding AU’s non-binding decision whilst it violates Roma Statutes that Kenya signed voluntarily? Why is it that Kenya wants to abuse its own new constitution before even it marks a year? Why doesn’t Kenya do like Uganda that distanced itself when Bashir was invited to a conference in Kampala. Uganda successfully avoided unnecessary legal and political wrangling.
Again, Kenya is a member of East African Community. Doesn’t it see that by doing what one of its counterparts avoided, it is offending the same counterpart? It is shocking and sad that the Minister does not get it that AU has lost its legitimacy so as to support illegitimate regimes, even when they have committed atrocities against their people as it is the case with Bashir. Many were shocked to hear such law-breaking and self-inculpatory words coming from the Minister. To add insult to injury, thereafter, the Minister for Foreign Affairs was dispatched to Khartoum to mend fences. If anything, though the government in Nairobi is still flexing its muscles, the dent… deep and humongous one… has already been made. Will it be wise for the government that came to power after vanguishing dictatorship to taint its image in the defence of a dictator just the same as the one it toppled? Isn’t this high order hypocrisy?
Will Kibaki uphold the constitution and serve the Kenyans that voted for him or trumple over it and serve Sudanese strong man, and for what reasons and gains? Chances are that the executive is waging a losing battle for its peril thanks to the fact that the justice made his decision based on the provisions of the new constitution. Therefore, whoever advises Kibaki should be wise to underscore the fact that, under the new constitution, nobody is above the law. If the executive is still thinking by using the past-frozen brain when the president was above the law and the executive above judiciary, needs to be told that things have long changed. Although Kibaki spoiled the party at the promulgation of new constitution by inviting Bashir, why should he add more salt to injuries? By then thanks to the euphoria Kenyans were in, he got away with it. Will he get away with it once again? The answer is nope. Logically, it doesn’t add up even make sense for Kibaki to dent his image siding with a stinking dictator indicted for committing genocide against his own peole. What transpired in 2008 seems to have not given a lesson to Kibaki and all those that think that they can take the hoi polloi for a ride.
Moreover, chief justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has already weighed in very heavily and categorically so to speak. Responding to rants that the executive were not thinking about complying with the ruling, Mutunga was quoted as thus: “The Judiciary and its officers shall not be intimidated to bend the law”. To make his message clear, Mutunga added that Kenya must choose between anarchy and the rule of the law. Suppose the executive stick on their guns, will the judiciary allow itself to be cowered or stiff its neck and therefore create a crisis especially at this time Kenya is at war with al-Shabaab? What is the right thing to do under such circumstances?
In essence, Kenya has nothing to lose by dumping Bashir. We all know that Kenya is a major economc and political player in South Sudan. Shall it keep on thinking it can serve two masters namely Bashir and South Sudan? It should not wonder when South Sudan decided to part ways with it. For the French sage has it that “les amis des mes sont mes amis”, namely the friends of my friends are my friends. What of the enemies of my friends? They are obvious my enemies.
In sum, let us face it: will the Kenyan executive seal ignore the truth and go on defending Bashir by violating its own constitution? What precedent does the executive make in the first place? What legacy is Kibaki making? It time to warn Kenya that doing Bashir’s laundry will leave it messy and stinky.
In the wake of the enormous media coverage of the uprisings and so-defined “revolutions” in North Africa and the Middle East, I am hard pressed to find any media coverage of the escalating atrocities and impending civil war in Cote d’Ivoire. The “blackout” of this media coverage I am referring to is not within the mainstream media… which is understandable… it’s within the AfroSphere itself. One can read more on Chris Brown… even on Charlie Sheen… on blogs, news sites and webzines within the Black/African blogosphere, than on Cote d’Ivoire.
The sad thing about this is that in this age of the power of social media within the creation of communities of interest, the recent histories of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Kenya are being repeated today in Cote d’Ivoire (here)… and we don’t care. It’s an indictment on all of us, from President Obama… “a son of Africa”… to those of African descent within the continent, the Diaspora and the AfroSphere. We do nothing, then we get pissed and question the motives and sincerity of the Bono’s, George Clooney’s and Mia Farrow’s of the (white) world when they take up the causes of African people.
In saying all this however, I must acknowledge and give props to Patrick-Bernard at Cry Me An Onion for his post “The Ivory Coast Saga” in December 2010. He is one of a handful within the AfroSphere with a global perspective and understanding on the importance and significance of these issues on those of African descent regardless of where we reside.
Henceforth, the first step to do something… anything… about this is awareness. Below are some resources on Cote d’Ivoire that bring knowledge and perspective to what is happening there now:
- Aljazeera: An Ivorian Miracle?
- Crossed Crocodiles: Ivory Coast – What Happened? What Next? (excellent background and references on current situation)
- The African Executive: The Ivory Coast: Unlocking the Impasse
- Pambazuka News: Cote d’Ivoire: Forces behind the crisis and what’s at stake
Post something on your blog or webzine to bring attention to this crisis. Hundreds have been and thousands will be massacred. Atrocities such as mass murders and rapes, other crimes against humanity including genocide is forthcoming. Obama and the European allies argued that they had to intervene in Lybia to prevent a humanitarian crisis… what about Cote d’Ivoire?
Enlighten those during discussions about the so-called “Jasmine Revolutions” as well as debates surrounding military intervention in Lybia, about the fight for democracy and the current humanitarian crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. This should be our primary concern.
The mainstream media may ignore the plight of the people in Cote d’Ivoire… that’s expected… our blackout of this event… is self-imposed. The guilt will be ours.