POST MRR COLUMNS
by Mykel Board
"always have the police on your side...one of the things you learn in the mazes of life.” Louis-Ferdinand Céline
ARRRR-ARRRR-AH-AAAARRRR, screams “the rooster” in my talking alarm clock. THE TIME IS TEN THIRTY. I slap for the off button...WHACK... I miss it. ARRRR-ARRRR-AH-AAA, it screams again... WHACK! Got it! Caught in mid-caw.
Body point by body point... the muscle pains from yesterday's half-hour at the gym return. Back, neck, calf, thigh... Rumble by rumble, the beer from last night's Peculiar Pub adventure returns. Stomach to small intestine to large intestine to colon... pushing against the sphincter with a pain more intense than my need to sleep. Synapse by synapse, I remember that it's Saturday... a day off... a day of rest... and then...
Fuck! The second Saturday in December. A day worse than Christmas... worse than Independence Day... worse than any flag-waving, death-loving day that passes for a holiday in the United States. Memorial Day, Patriot's Day, Columbus Day, Lincoln's Birthday for God's sake... all the horrible holidays pale in comparison to this second Saturday.... SANTACON.
In 2013 The Village Voice writes, “SantaCon was a day-long spectacle of public inebriation somewhere between a low-rent Mardi Gras and a drunken fraternity party.” That was an insult to Mardi Gras. Wikipedia tells me that SantaCon started as an art project... and grew out of a Danish group that took toys from store shelves and handed them to kids as Christmas gifts... leaving it up to the store managers to pry the gifts from the crying kids' hands. A nice metaphor for capitalism... and one worth imitating.
But the American version, of course, lost its politics and became a drunken frat party. The skimpy Santa dresses worn by big-boobed girl Santas do not compensate for the trail of macho-man-shouting-girl-piss-screaming-pukesters that make the holiday unbearable... and they start at 10AM!! Santacon: a good argument against gun control.
FLASH TO FERGUSON MISSOURI: A grand jury refuses to indict a cop who shoots an unarmed black guy. The victim raises his hands and says DON'T SHOOT! After the shooting, ABC News pays the cop half a million dollars for an exclusive (rehearsed with acting lessons, paid for by the MO cops) interview about how he felt threatened by the unarmed man and IT WAS HIM OR ME!
FLASH TO NEW YORK CITY: A grand jury refuses to indict a cop who strangles a guy for selling loose cigarettes on the street. This, the result of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton's BROKEN WINDOW policy, where crimes like simple drug use or graffiti are more important than murder or the white collar theft of millions. The grand jury refuses to indict the cop although the victim is videotaped hissing I CAN'T BREATHE eleven times before he dies. The man who takes the video is himself arrested by other cops. He is not killed... yet.
FLASH TO CLEVELAND OHIO: A cop shoots a 12 year old brandishing a water pistol. Jury indictment results unknown.
BACK TO MY APARTMENT IN NEW YORK: My phone vibrates. It's an SMS from Jody:
Mykel, are you going to the march against police violence? It leaves after a rally in Washington Square Park. Moves out at 2.
Shit! I had planned NOT to go out today... I don't want to face those Santas. But these murders are just too much. I gotta put up or shut up... and I'm not one to shut up.
I stumble into the bathroom... evacuate last night's Yuengling... brush my teeth... put on my Russian navy coat and detective hat... walk over to meet Jody and go to the park. It's packed.
And what a mix! There's someone giving out leaflets from the Revolutionary Something-or-Other Party... a bunch of white college-agers with bad taste in headwear... colored young people... colored old people... signs galore, most with #blacklivesmatter someplace on them.
A lot of the signs look professional. Corporate printing with boring designs... mass produced:
STOP POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER or LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Not very exciting...
One Middle Eastern-looking guy has a sign that's more a manifesto... it takes me awhile to read it all:
Down with the racist police who kill Blacks and Latinos in America And down with Barack Obama Police Chief of the world who kills more innocent people in the Middle East with his bombs and drone missiles #Arabslivesmattertoo
I wonder if everyone being systematically killed has his own hashtag. I also wonder if, given the liberal/leftist tendency to attack each other, there's going to be a fight... or several of them. Wait, here's a guy in a yarmulke... holding up a sign... maybe something suitably anti-Arab?
I'm (pleasantly) surprised. His sign says I CAN breathe, and when I do I smell racist injustice.
The best thing about this crowd is that THERE ARE NO SANTAS!!! Not one! No red-pants fratboys, walking through the crowd with dripping cans of Bud! Yowsah!
“Hey,” I tell Jody, “the crowd is thinning.”
“Look!” she says pointing to the arch. “They're leaving, walking up Fifth Avenue. The march has begun.”
“Follow me!” I yell, like Custer leading the charge against the Indians. “Full speed ahead!”
We shoulder our way through the mass of masses. Little kids in strollers... black teens in hooded sweatshirts... a gray-haired man walking arm-in-arm with his gray-haired wife... both serious and organically thin.
STOP: Before we go any further, I want to give you my take on all this police stuff.
Imagine you're on a grand jury. You're white... your friends are white... the cops are white... which side are you on? Vote to indict a cop... and your ass is an extremely well-mowed lawn. The DA, who needs the cops for his job, is the guy “presenting the evidence against the police.” I'd have voted the same as those grand juries. You can bet your grassless ass I'm not going to indict a cop. I gotta live here!
The problem is not this or that jury or this or that town-- or even this or that cop... but the jury system itself. The system of PEERS... the openness... the possibilities of revenge... retaliation. In New York, the guy who videotapes a cop murdering a man for selling illegal cigarettes... is arrested by other cops. Can you imagine what would happen to someone who actually voted a cop guilty of murder? Who's gonna trust the courts? The jury system? Not me. Make something up... sneeze... anything.. I'll vote NOT GUILTY!
It's illegal to advocate rioting or destruction, so I won't. If it WERE legal, I might say DO IT! Right now, the police get away with murder. The consequences are a few days in court, and then the life of Riley. But, what would happen if every time a cop killed an unarmed black guy, a bank got burned down? Or a different cop got shot? Murders by cops would have consequences-- real consequences-- that might have the deterrent effect the law is SUPPOSED to have. No grand juries on this one. You shoot LeRoy and BLAM, good-bye Starsky and Hutch.
Of course, I'm not saying people SHOULD do this. I'm just asking what would happen IF.
Extra Note: All cops are not murderers (though a code of silence® makes all cops accomplices). There are cops who enter the force for idealistic reasons... who really expect to help people... who have a view that the world would be a more dangerous place without them. During the World Trade Center aftermath, the compassion, spirit, and volunteerism of all the police was a testament to their basic decency. Cops are not good or bad. They're mixed-- like everyone else. Sometimes one aspect wins, sometimes another. The focus shouldn't be on these cops, but on a grand jury system that makes it nearly impossible to bring ANY cops to trial. That's what's got to change. In the meantime, all consequences for police actions now take place OUTSIDE the realm of trials and grand juries. The consequences are on the streets.
BACK TO WASHINGTON SQUARE: Jody and I shoulder our way through the crowd... past an NYPD ARE THE BROKEN WINDOWS sign and another that says:
Number of Americans killed by:
A not-bad sign shows some understanding of how things are rigged to prevent indictments: The system isn't broken... it's working.
Not a Santa in the crowd. And hey... look at that! Someone gets it right. A woman with a hand-drawn sign: We must change the law-- no grand jury.
Yeah! Now all we need is a little humor and we've got it.
“Mykel,” Jody tells me, “you can't expect humor. Those guys were murdered... You can't laugh at that.”
“George W killed a million people in Iraq,” I say. “And THAT'S funny... I can laugh at anything!”
By now we're through the arch on to Fifth Avenue.
HANDS UP! shouts a skinny white girl with a very semitic nose.
DON'T SHOOT! answers the crowd.
HANDS UP! she repeats.
DON'T SHOOT! answers the crowd.
This goes on for the next half a dozen blocks until someone I can't see begins shouting.
I CAN'T BREATHE, he says, sounding quite accustomed to chant leading.
ONE! answers the crowd.
I CAN'T BREATHE, comes the repeat.
TWO! answers the crowd.
This goes up to ELEVEN.
Then there's an older black guy with a hint of gray-streaked beard. He's holding a generic #blacklivesmatter sign. He shouts, NO JUSTICE
NO PEACE, shouts back the crowd.
NO JUSTICE, again.
NO PEACE, again.
“I don't get it,” I tell Jody. “This is a march up Sixth Avenue and down Fifth Avenue. There's a permit. Nobody is breaking any windows. Nobody is burning police cars. Nobody is even stepping out of the parade route. Where is the NO part of NO PEACE? It looks pretty peaceful to me.”
“It's just a slogan, Mykel,” she answers.
A groups starts chanting THE NYPD IS THE KKK!
A few of the crowd pick it up. I look at the cops on the sides of the march. They're NOT in riot gear. No horses. No hostility. A few black cops... a few hispanics... a few women... a few black women. They're chatting with each other, guns safely holstered. They don't even look angry.
THE NYPD IS THE KKK! shout a few more people.
Since when did the KKK allow Negro and Hispanic members? The NYPD may be Wall Street, but it's not the KKK.
Uh oh, here it comes, a flash of red. My Santa-free Santacon is over.... at a protest march. This is just wrong!
Three big guys in Santa suits-- one of 'em colored. They appear to be sober. The colored guy moves to the front of the march... raises his hands... DON'T SHOOT! he says.
Yes! That's what I've been waiting for. A colored Santa.. hands raised saying DON'T SHOOT.... THAT'S funny. The whole idea of cops shooting Santa is funny. Cops shooting a colored Santa is funnier. SantaCon has done good for once.
The parade turns on thirty-second street, goes over to Fifth Avenue and starts going downtown again.
“I made my statement,” I tell Jody. “Now I need a beer.”
She suggests Old Town Tavern near Union Square. We split from the Parade at 20th Street... walk East and have a couple of Edelstoffs. We sit among the Santa-less tourists in the place. The two of us share a burger and something else. Jody pays for it all. After beer and lunch-- at least 45 minutes-- we go out again. The march is still moving down the avenue.
We join it again... for a few more blocks. The newspapers will say 25,000... seems to me it's a lot more. Near Union Square is a guy dressed in an American Flag. He wears an American Flag kerchief around his mouth and nose. The skin that shows above the kerchief is light brown. His sign: USA Your racist hypocritical judicial system must be changed.
Ah, someone else who gets it... now if only he could just make it funnier.
POSTSCRIPT: Who wudda thunk it? Four guys attack cops with a flying garbage can. There's a manhunt. Somehow, when police kill unarmed black guys, that's not indictable... but let a garbage can fly... hoooey!! I was just gonna add that to this post when:
TWO COPS ARE KILLED WHILE SITTING IN THEIR POLICE CAR. The alleged killer allegedly killed himself in a nearby subway station... denying a cycle of revenge that may start anyway. Nadav, a pal of mine who works in the emergency room here in NYC, was assaulted by cops when he tried to enter his workplace. It was the hospital where the ambulance took the just-shot police. I guess they attacked Nadav because he looks Middle Eastern. (He's Israeli.) But the cops must've been in a state of shock... where ANYBODY looks like the enemy.
The police clearly are on an easy tripswitch... high alert... and I'm having second thoughts. What if, instead of considering their actions, the police just gone on even MORE of shooting spree? What if revenge brings revenge... blacks and cops the 21st century Hatfields and McCoys? I don't know.
On the other hand, if someone were to always provide consequences for police murdering unarmed people, it might make them think twice before they do it. Riots and bank burnings may be less likely to invite retaliation than cop shooting. Of course, I'm not advocating any of this, I'm just considering the IFs.
ENDNOTES: [You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available by subscribing to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group email@example.com]
-->Give it away dept: Ten different school districts in Texas have received free... or low-cost... gifts from the Pentagon. Including 64 M16-rifles, 18 M14 rifles, 25 automatic pistols and fifteen surplus military vehicles.
Ok, just try to come in here and hurt OUR kids! I dare ya!
-->Mohammad and the Mayflower dept: Justice Ray Moore of Alabama spoke at a "Pastors for Life" Luncheon. "Buddha didn't create us. Mohammed didn't create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures... They didn't bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship."
-->You can see my... and Jody's photos of the march by clicking here.
->Keeping the Pressure on Dept: I want to thank reader George Metesky for suggesting a continuing Bring Back Mykel effort directed at Maximum Rock'n'Roll for their (firing me as a) contribution to the world of censorship. Send your comments-- to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: BRING BACK MYKEL! Let me know how they answer.