Ahmaud Arbery, Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson, Sean Bell, Kayla Moore, Tamir Rice, Alberta Spruill, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and far too many others all have something in common. They all were innocent unarmed Blacks murdered by armed whites with impunity.
“Get murdered by whites. March. Pray. Forgive. Repeat cycle. Get murdered by whites. March. Pray. Forgive. Repeat cycle. Get murdered by whites. March. Pray. Forgive. Repeat cycle.”
That’s been the mantra of nearly all Black political and pastoral leaders since the beginning of slavery as a formal institution in British colonial America on Aug. 25, 1619. And after 401 years, it’s about time we finally come up with something new and something effective.
Despite the cowardice at worst or docility at best of our so-called Black leadership, there have been numerous instances of cultural courage by Black folks, starting, for example, 308 years ago with arguably the first orchestrated and documented revolt against brutal racist oppression. It’s known as the “New York Slave Revolt of 1712” and initially involved 23 enslaved Blacks but increased to as many as 100 armed with all kinds of weapons, including guns.
That historic rebellion laid the foundation for the fearless revolutionary abolitionist actions of Cato in 1739, the New York Conspirators in 1741, Gabriel Prosser in 1800, Charles Deslondes in 1811, Denmark Vesey in 1822, Nat Turner in 1831, John Brown in 1859, and many others leading up to the armed Black Union soldiers who, after finally being permitted to fight in 1863, turned the tide toward victory in the final two years of the 1861-1865 Civil War.
And that legally justifiable armed resistance didn’t stop in 1865. The Deacons for Defense and Justice, co-founded by Min. Frederick Kirkpatrick, continued it in 1964 in Jonesboro, Louisiana, to protect civil rights activists then established chapters in Mississippi and Alabama. Fannie Lou Hamer of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, also founded in 1964, proudly told everyone she “had several loaded guns under my bed.” Robert F. Williams, as president of the NAACP branch in Monroe, North Carolina, from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s, transformed that chapter into an armed unit. And everybody already knows about the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, founded in Oakland in 1966, but people forget that “Self-Defense” was a major part of the organization’s name and mission.
And if you think this realization of the need to lawfully arm and lawfully defend one’s self was merely a Black radical thing, think again. In 1956, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a license to carry one of the many guns he kept for self-protection and family protection at his home, which was described by an eyewitness reporter as an “arsenal.” Along those same lines, Glenn Smiley, a member of a pacifist group called Fellowship of Reconciliation that assisted in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, talked about King’s house by saying, “The place is an arsenal.”
Now let’s get back to Ahmaud Arbery. I’m enraged about his murder for several reasons. Actually, “enrage” is an understatement. I’m actually furious. I’m livid. I’m incensed. I’m apoplectic. And here’s why:
The two white conspiratorial murderers in Satilla Shores, Georgia, carrying a shotgun and a .357 Magnum handgun premeditatedly stalked Arbery like predators sadistically and gleefully hunting an animal for sport, with the shotgun wielder firing three times, hitting Arbery twice, causing two chest wounds and a hand wound that caused his death.
The Waycross County District Attorney, George Barnhill, after viewing the video of the graphic and gruesome murder involving two armed white men and one unarmed Black man, exonerated the killers by writing a letter stating that the violent homicide was “perfectly legal,” that the killers had “solid first-hand probable cause,” that Arbery had displayed “aggression” when he was confronted, that the shooter “was allowed to use deadly force to ‘protect himself,’” and that the unarmed Arbery “may have ‘shot himself’ while fighting for the [armed man’s] shotgun.” The DA really wrote all of that. Oh, by the way, one of the murderers is a local ex-cop and an ex-DA investigator and the other murderer had worked with the DA’s son in at least one previous criminal investigation. Fortunately, the case has since been transferred to Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes. She’s the first Black District Attorney in that county’s history. And she ain’t no joke. Not only is she aggressively seeking justice by pursuing murder and related charges against the two lynchers, she’s also pursuing a prosecutorial misconduct formal complaint against DA Barnhill.
It wasn’t until May 7, which was 74 days after the Feb. 23 murder that the two racist executioners were arrested. But they weren’t arrested because they murdered an unarmed innocent Black man who was legally jogging down the street in his own hometown. They were arrested only because of public outrage after the video was leaked.
You might incredulously ask how could I be so enraged and so furious and so livid and so incensed and so apoplectic about these two white guys killing this one Black guy when Black guys kills hundreds of other Black guys every year in almost every major city, something you might refer to as so-called “Black-on-Black crime.” My response would be that there’s no such thing as “Black-on-Black crime.” Think about it. When white suburban teens frequently shoot up white suburban schools or when white serial killers strangle or stab white women to death, nobody calls that “white-on-white crime.” And when Asian or Latino street gangs kill rival Asian or Latino street gang members, nobody calls that “yellow-on-yellow crime” or “brown-on-brown crime.” So why does the “Back-on-Black crime” term even exist?
Moreover, my reaction to whites killing Blacks compared to my reaction to Blacks killing Blacks is that history and current events prove that when Blacks kills Blacks, the police meticulously investigate, the DA aggressively prosecutes, the juries consistently convict, and the judges habitually jail. But when whites kill Blacks, nothing generally happens. Accordingly, when the legal system starts zealously pursuing whites who kill Blacks as it zealously pursues Blacks who kill Blacks (and especially Blacks who kill whites), I’ll end my turbulent reaction to whites who kill Blacks with impunity.
And just in case you erroneously think the violent self-inflicted Black crime that does exist is a race-based Black thing, check out the Department of Justice’s 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics report that covers 2008-2012 and discloses that poor urban whites have a higher rate of violence toward each other at a rate of 56.4 per 1,000 compared to poor urban Blacks at a rate of 51.3 per 1,000. Furthermore, the FBI points out that most murders involving a single victim and a single offender are committed by whites. In addition, the Center for Disease Control notes, as indicated by the L.A. Times, that “Rates of homicides, gun killings, and illicit drug fatalities are highest in counties where nine of 10 residents are white and where President Trump won.” Hmm.... Very interesting.
“Get murdered by whites. March. Pray. Forgive. Repeat cycle. Get murdered by whites. March. Pray. Forgive. Repeat cycle. Get murdered by whites. March. Pray. Forgive. Repeat cycle.” Nah. I don’t think so. Not anymore. Instead, as Frederick Douglass so presciently said, “A man’s [and a woman’s] rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.”
I’ve been a voter all my adult life. I’ve served on a jury before. And just a few days ago, I finally joined the National African-American Gun Association (at naaga.co), the largest Black gun rights organization in America.
Thanks, Brother Frederick.