While NYC mourns cops’ murders, anti-police brutality protests must continue

Ramos and LIu

NYPD Police Officers Rafael Ramos and WenjianLiu were murdered at point blank range on Saturday afternoon by longtime criminal gang member Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who traveled from Baltimore to commit the crime.

As they sat in their marked patrol car near the Tompkins Houses in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Saturday afternoon, New York City police officers Rafael Ramos, who is Latino and Wenjian Liu, who is Asian, were shot at point-blank range by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who traveled to New York City after shooting and wounding his girlfriend in Baltimore, where he had led a life of crime. After murdering the officers, Brinsley then committed suicide.

According to posts on his social media page, Brinsley had threatened to kill police officers in revenge for the murders of unarmed African-American males Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. As the facts emerge, they tell an irrefutable tale: Brinsley, a gang member who embraced a life of crime, acted alone and had no affiliation to any of the families whose loved ones were killed by police officers. While the misguided ambush of the police officers must be loudly condemned in every corner of society, Brinsley’s action should not diminish the worthy cause of the #BlackLivesMatter movement which seeks to bring attention to the scourge of police officers across the nation murdering unarmed African-Americans and Latinos. Ensuring the safety of all innocent lives is the responsibility of a civilized society.

Baltimore gang member Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and wounded his girlfriend before traveling to New York City on Saturday where he murdered two police officers as they sat in their patrol car.

Baltimore gang member Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and wounded his girlfriend before traveling to New York City on Saturday where he murdered two police officers as they sat in their patrol car.

At OnPointPress.net, we mourn the brutal and cowardly murders of officers Ramos and Wenjian. At the same time, we will always mourn the deaths of unarmed African-Americans and Latinos at the hands of police officers. In our view, no life is more important that the other, therefore all lives must be valued equally.

In that vein, we mourn the murders of: Amadaou Diallo who was executed by police officers in a hail of 41 bullets in the Bronx; Anthony Baez, who was choked to death in the Bronx by officer Francis Livotti because Baez’ football hit the officer’s patrol car; Patrick Dorismond in Brooklyn, New York;  Sean Bell who was celebrating his bachelor’s party before he was gunned down by a team of police officers in Queens, New York; Eric Garner who had broken up a fight and was merely standing on a corner in Staten Island, New York; Michael Brown, who had broken the law but did not deserve to die for it in Ferguson, Missouri; John Crawford who was shopping at a Walmart in Ohio; Tamir Rice who was playing with a toy gun in a park in Ohio, Trayvon Martin, who was walking home with candies when a thuggish, police-obsessed George Zimmerman objected, Ezell Ford, in Los Angeles, Akai Gurley, who was talking the stairs in Brooklyn, New York due to a malfunctioning elevator, Oscar Grant, who was trying to get home to his daughter in Oakland, California and the many other unarmed African-American and Latino males and females who are routinely brutalized, harassed and murdered by the very police officers who are sworn to protect and serve them.

We mourn all deaths, and we wait with interest for comprehensive, nationwide reforms to be implemented that will strengthen police-community relations, change the tone of police interactions with Blacks and Latinos to demonstrate respect rather than intimidation and racism, and we look forward to the day when Blacks and Latinos can confidently view police officers as agents who are there to protect them, like they protect Whites, and not murder them with impunity, as is often the case. So as we mourn the unfortunate murders of these innocent officers, we urge the anti-police brutality protests to continue spreading the word that “BlackLivesMatter so that the changes that we seek will become a reality–OnPointPress.net.

Ongoing protests, demands for action, only routes to meaningful change

People protest nationwide against police brutality.

People protest nationwide against police brutality.

On Saturday, December 13, various civil rights groups will gather in Washington, D.C, to demand a national response to the spate of murders unleashed on unarmed Black men and boys by White police officers, and the refusal of largely White grand juries, impaneled by White district attorneys, to indict the officers. Some supporters will march to protest against vigilante members of the public who also kill Black and Latino residents  without provocation. While still others will march to highlight members of the Black and Latino communities killing each other in a show of disregard for their lives.

Protesters in New York City march and demand change.

Protesters in New York City march and demand change.

As people of all races and backgrounds continue to take to the street en masse, blocking streets, highways, malls, businesses and municipal buildings, politicians have begun to take notice. Also, supporters in countries as far-flung as India, France and England have held solidarity protests, holding aloft banners with the timeless message: “Black Lives Matter.” There must be no tiring in the quest to elicit meaningful change in how Black and Latino people are routinely targeted and dehumanized by police officers who are sworn to protect them. The dichotomy in police relationships between the White community and Black/Latino communities require a national overall in policing strategies.

Protesters marched in 1936 for the same issue as they are marching today.

Protesters marched in 1936 for the same issue as they are marching today.

President Barack Obama’s recent request to Congress for $75 million to fund body cameras for police officers, while noble, hardly inspires comfort, given the fact that the unholy alliance between district attorneys and police officers rendered two videotapes of Eric Garner’s chokehold murder by Staten Island detective Daniel Pantaleo unpersuasive to a predominantly White grand jury. However, it is a step in the right direction. New York Mayor Bill deBlasio’s joint announcement with his police commissioner Bill Bratton that all 35, 000 New York City police force will immediately undergo re-training is also a good step, despite the cries of hysteria espoused by Petrolmen Benevolent Association( PBA) President Patrick Lynch.

“Re-training the police force on new ways of dealing with the public and better use of force will reduce these tragedies,” deBlasio said over the weekend.

Protesters stage die-in at Grand Central Station in New York City to express outrage that the grand jury failed to indict the officers who used an illegal chokehold to murder Eric Garner.

Protesters stage die-in at Grand Central Station in New York City to express outrage that the grand jury failed to indict the officers who used an illegal chokehold to murder Eric Garner.

But those steps are just the beginning of what will be a long journey towards the type of systemic change that is necessary for Blacks and Latinos to feel safe in their homeland of America, the land of the free. It is unacceptable for Blacks and Latinos to be victimized, harassed, assaulted and murdered with impunity by police officers who run the streets like lawless gangs who answer to no one. This must stop. The anguish that is felt by the families of Garner, Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, Sean Belll, Anthony Baez, Abmer Louima, Patrick Dorismond, Jordan Davis and countless others across the country needs to be assuaged.

Black and Latino children grow up fearing the police who are sworn to protect them.

Black and Latino children grow up fearing the police who are sworn to protect them.

The trauma experienced by members of the Black and Latino communities when an innocent life is cut down by police officers whose primary responsibility is to protect but whose presence engenders fear, last a lifetime.  Police brutality targeted towards Black and Latino communities need to stop and the protests, marches and acts of civil disobedience are vital actions that must be taken to keep the issues in the public consciousness.–OnPointPress.net.

“The Message” depicts the music and movement of Hip Hop (Part I)

BET's The Message is a 4-part documentary series that airs Wednesday nights at 10pm. The last part airs on June 25, 2014.

BET’s The Message is a 4-part documentary series that airs Wednesday nights at 10pm. The last part airs on June 25, 2014.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As Black Music Month nears its end, it is important to recognize the impact Hip Hop has made in society. Interestingly, it seems as if the Hip Hop movement and culture have been more accepted than Hip Hop music, itself. Speaking about the music, President Barack Obama said: “Honestly I love the art of Hip Hop but I don’t always love the message.”

The cultural impact made by those who have embraced Hip Hop can be identified through the entertainment, fashion, technology, and business worlds. Hip Hop culture has sparked creations that are worth billions of dollars, yet Hip Hop music still faces challenges in appreciation and acceptance

Public Enemy's Chuck D has used Hip Hop music to bring light to important social issues throughout the years.

Public Enemy’s Chuck D has used Hip Hop music to bring light to important social issues throughout the years, using a logo of a black man caught in the cross hairs as a message of how black men are targeted in society.

In an effort to shift the message of Hip Hop to focus on serious issues, Chuck D of Public Enemy was strategic. He addressed social issues in songs such as “Fight the Power,” which was the title song of Spike Lee’s groundbreaking movie “Do the Right Thing.” Chuck D said that his mindset during his career had been about provoking thought on the black experience so that others can see their worth and value.

“We’re trying to fuel the minds of black people to know about themselves and that’s it in a nutshell,” he said, while Russell Simmons said that “Chuck D was already a person who wanted to change the African-American culture.” That vision inspired others.

Queen Latifah has always championed social causes in her music.

Queen Latifah has always championed social causes in her music and is viewed as a trendsetter .

Rappers like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Sista Souljah tackled social injustices in their music and made it clear that using music as a tool to shed light on inequality was important to them. Social issues still constitute a part of Hip Hop today as shown in music by Lupe Fiasco, Common, Lauryn Hill and Mos Def. Hill has fully embraced Hip Hop music, stating: “I’m musical but I was born into Hip Hop.”

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill has carved a niche as a conscious rapper and has reaped the rewards by snagging five Grammy Awards in 1998, prompting her to say “This is crazy because it’s Hip Hop” as she collected her awards.

The issues that inspired the social aspect of the music, such as black men and boys being targeted by police and society, still exist today. This is evident in the murders of Travyon Martin and Jordan Davis, unarmed teenagers who were gunned down by armed white men who “felt threatened.” Ice Cube voiced his displeasure with police tactics as being influential in N.W.A’s anti-police anthem “F the Police.”  Ice Cube also referenced being inspired to do the music he performed with N.W.A. by the social commentary offered by artists like KRS 1 and Schoolly D.

“To me this gangsta [rap] stuff was already in the air but a group had never did it. It is unapologetically art. Just in your face. We were not looking for acceptance,” Ice Cube said. “We only wanted acceptance from the neighborhood.’

BET President Stephen Hill is proud to be able to help bring The Message to viewers.

BET President Stephen Hill is proud to be able to help bring The Message to viewers.

BET’s 4-part documentary on Hip Hop, The Message, takes viewers on a journey of the evolution of the message in the Hip Hop music and its, social, cultural and economic impact. The Message, narrated by Hip Hop star Joe Budden, gives brief accounts about the early stages of the genre, the eventual spread of the music and many challenges that faced those who supported and/or performed the music.

Hip Hop star Joe Budden narrates The Message.

Hip Hop star Joe Budden narrates The Message.

“Hip Hop is a seed planted and nourished amongst the ‘broken glass everywhere’ of mid-70’s New York. It has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon and dominant culture of at least one generation,” explained current president of music programming and specials at BET, Stephen Hill. He used the words from the original Hip Hop song “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to make his point.

The fourth and final installment of The Message will air on June 25, 2014.

Entrepreneur Steve Stoute (c) developed a similar series that aired on VH1 in February. He is pictured above with Hip Hop royalty Nas (l) and Jay-Z (r).

Entrepreneur Steve Stoute (c) developed a similar series that aired on VH1 in February. He is pictured above with Hip Hop royalty Nas (l) and Jay-Z (r).

Earlier this year, (February 24 – 27) VH1 aired its own 4-part documentary extolling the virtues of Hip Hop culture named “The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop.” That series was the brainchild of entrepreneur and advertising executive Steve Stoute, who wrote a similarly titled book on the topic in 2011. Both series discuss similar topics and illustrate how Hip Hip has grown from a local form of enjoyment to a universal method of connecting.

Female Hip Hop stars and radio personalities

Female Hip Hop stars  (from top left) Salt & Pepa, Foxy Brown, MC Lyte, Lil Kim and radio personality Angie Martinez.

As viewers watch The Message, they will be reminded of the positive and negative experiences that pioneers endured. Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, MC Lyte, Pharrell, Nas, Luther Campbell, Angie Martinez, Snoop Dogg, Queen Latifah, Rick Ross, Salt N Pepper, Kendrick Lamar, Danyel Smith, Lil Kim, Master P, Foxy Brown, Funkmaster Flex, Big Tigger, and Nelson George are some of the many Hip Hop related stars that are interviewed throughout this series. They share their insight and experiences between the many segments that touch on the birth, trials and tribulations experienced during of the evolution of Hip Hop.

The Message features interviews from some the biggest names in Hip Hop history  including (l - r) Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Rick Ross, and Nas.

The Message features interviews from some the biggest names in Hip Hop history including (l – r) Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Rick Ross, and Nas.

The Message is a worthwhile viewing experience, not to receive the total understanding of Hip Hop, but to bring back memories and spark thoughts about the current state of Hip Hop. The music has evolved, yet it continues to face scrutiny from fans and critics alike. Meanwhile the culture continues to flourish and set trends.

One thing that cannot be disputed about Hip Hop though, is it remains relevant and is still growing. The the desire for social acceptance and concern for relevance and respect that inspired the music is as relevant today as it was when the genre was introduced in the 1980s..–OnPointPress.net–

Stay tuned for Part 2 next Monday.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.