NEW YORK CITY–April 2nd, 2015–A people’s tribunal was held at the National Black Theater on 5th avenue and 125th street.The speaker’s there gave testimony to violence inflicted on them by police in their neighborhoods.
Kenneth Chamberlain JR. spoke about his father’s, Kenneth Chamberlain SR, death in White Plains, NY on November 19th, 2011. Police responding to a medical alert necklace forcibly entered his home. When they said that they did not need help, the officer replied, “I don’t care nigger. Open the door.” They then shot him bean bag rounds, and finally live rounds. He described seeing his father’s corpse and asking why this happened, in which the police officer replied, “We don’t have to tell you anything.” The police later said that the use of the word ‘nigger’ was a tactic. No criminal charges were ever filled. Chamberlain SR was a 68 year old marine corp veteran.
Later on, members of the audience recounted their own tales of police brutality.
The reason black lives matter isn’t because white lives don’t. It’s because all lives matter once black lives do. This is a concept I only really began to grasp recently. As a freelance journalist, I’ve tried to cover to the best of my ability the outrage over the killings of black men throughout the United States, but I think I’ve mostly failed. Maybe this is because I’m white, but probably not. Rather, I feel like it is more or unless the unwillingness of the general public to fully appreciate the idea that a certain section of the American population is being persecuted in a way that is so blatant and so terrible, that it is unnoticed.
There are two concepts to understand: there is racism and then there is police brutality. These two things intersect more often when it comes to blacks than any other demographic. I’ve been brutalized by the police before, but I never ever thought it was because I was inferior to the police due to my appearance or my culture. I was arrested in a white neighborhood, near white people, by white police, for trying to defend the rights of those who were protesting against puppy mills. I grew up around white people, I’ve been robbed by white people, and I’ve been hurt and hurt other white people in my past.
But when you watch the local news, all you see are ‘black on black crimes’. They are usually in areas that are poor and are mostly demographically black. More crime does happen in these areas. Socio-economic factors certainly play a roll in this. But the larger point is that white people simply cannot understand the feelings of blacks. They don’t realize that the same things that happen to blacks could easily happen to them under slightly different circumstances. They don’t consider the larger picture.
It is for this reason that I’ve decided to follow the ‘black lives matter’ protests and try to understand the activists, their feelings, and the issue at hand. I also want to attempt to grasp the reasons for why institutionalized racism is such a difficult thing to change, and what can be done to ultimately erase it.
This will be the first entry in a line of future ones about the black lives matter movement. It will be accompanied by video and photos. I would appreciate any feedback.
The trees look down on me with their heavy branches swaying. I stop myself and take a picture without thinking. I don’t know what the picture means to me until I look back at it. I just get bored of trees like this sometimes.
I stopped on the road to get cigarettes from the liquor store. It was cold so I brought my heavy jacket, but I knew it was going to be warm later. I had my backpack, my Nikon camera, my canon video camera, a sweatshirt, a spare lens, and I was going through the same streets I’ve walked since I was born. I was ready for nothing.
Beer brands and lottery tickets enter my brain as I take a picture of the sign. I haven’t learned to accept advertising as a way of life just yet, so instead I smoke.
Turning the corner, I see a man and he is asking me about Japanese cameras and if they’re any good. I have no idea and try to convey that, but he isn’t satisfied with the normal answers. He wants more, but I can’t give it to him. But still he smiles and laughs as I say goodbye, a man I probably will see again, but maybe not. I don’t know.
I pass places I used to hang out with my friend Chuck. I remember laughing a lot then–maybe smoking too much pot–but I don’t forget the pain either. Things haven’t really changed for me, even now. All I’m trying to do now is applied what I learned the previous 24 years of my life and try to make something of myself. I guess that’s why I roam the streets with a camera. I suppose that is why I’m determined to be a journalist or die trying. I’m not utilizing my school given education because my extracurricular activities taught me way more.
They taught me how cruel people are. I walk past a bar where I played irish music for money for one day, and then was shunned and never hired back. I remember drinking in there till the bartender shot water in my face. I will never forget sneaking in with Chuck and Ivan, who decided to steal shot glasses people left and then leave. We ended up being chased by the cops, but we got away.
I walk past vacant stores under the train tracks that have been abandoned for longer than I can remember. I peak inside the empty windows of a store where I got the strings on my guitar changed for a song.
A sign reminds me I’m no longer free.
And the trash reminds me of ugliness and cruelty. I wonder how ugly and cruel I am.The electrical equipment tells me that I will shocked if I get too close. I steer away from it and end up staring at a factory that has been empty for as long as I can remember. People wait for buses here for some reason.The factory used to make feathers but I don’t know anything more than that, and nobody who lives can apparently remember.
I stop by my local police station to snap a photo of a cop car. I just can’t resist.
Our Lady of Peace school. I was there when my priest Father Larry was shot by a nut job. That’s the first thing that comes to mind, even though I went to school there for 9 years. That school taught me a lot, both intentionally and unintentionally. I never was a loner though. That’s what I just typed, but I’m lying. I guess you can say I was unintentionally lonely. But I had friends. Up until 7th grade. I had a teacher who I will never forget. She treated me like shit. I forgive her though, because she was probably more fucked up then than I am now. I’m sure in the end she repaid her torture, but its not something we’ll see or know, unless something terrible happens. I hope that never happens though.
McDonalds parking lot. Chuck tried to plant a pot seed there once. I don’t think it worked. You couldn’t pay me eat there. This elderly gentleman is staring at me like he’s never seen someone with a camera before in his life.
I start to pass a graveyard that is right in the middle of two busy roads in the Lynbrook/Rockville Centre border. I go inside and take a look around. There are a lot of lonely graves here. People who are in the earth who will never be remembered. I don’t feel sorry for them as much as I feel sorry for myself, because the struggle of living a life without purpose is more terrifying than death itself.
But I guess it depends on how you look at things. I guess we’ll find out if death ends conscious thought or not.
The people I feel bad for are those who don’t realize they are not immortal.
I come across a mass grave. The sign says that they were mostly Irish and English immigrants who died in shipwrecks of the Mexico and Bristol. 215 perished.
I walk past a farm where nothing is growing,I walk past a cable that I think could be live and I walk over the railroad tracks. I walk into Lakeview to meet my friend Keith. Before we left, I take a picture of a water bottle filled with a yellow substance.
Keith and I walk to 7/11 it takes about 15 minutes. He buys me cigarettes and I buy a drink. I sit and smoke a cigarette and talk to him about the nature of New Yorkers, English women, and London. He lived in Manchester for almost two months and is going back in June. I’m leaving for Scotland in two months, and I can’t wait to leave this place. These pictures depress me.
I take a picture of a stream. It’s pretty much , but still pretty.
We walk down the street and I’m glad that I brought my sweatshirt because it definitely got warmer. Keith and I talk about England some more. We get to Westwood train station, where I used to go with my friend Chris to play football when I was in middle school. I sometimes wonder where he is and what he’s doing.
Keith and I talk about the FBI and their terrorist plots. I feel weird typing this, but I try to keep my freedom of speech.
I get picked up after Keith goes home, and I get picked up from Malverne by John. He drives me around with his girlfriend, blasting Sublime, and singing the lyrics of ‘Wrong Way’. I snap some pictures, but its getting colder so I close the window.
I don’t want to be a priest, a prophetic wizard, or a lion tamer.
I don’t want to explain why I have to do what I do.
I don’t need to be sympathized for, laughed at, criticized, or rejected
. I don’t need a helping hand to see me through tragedy.
I don’t believe I’ll ever forget the time that I dreamt of good wishes. I don’t believe I’ll forgive what others don’t understand.
I don’t wish to be seen as arrogant, but if I am seen as arrogant, I don’t believe I care.
I don’t believe I care, because I believe that I believe I believe.
And I don’t care because I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.
I believe I don’t care.
I don’t care.
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