By Tony Muhammad
“There’s a war goin’ on outside, no man is safe from” – Mobb Deep – Survival of the Fittest (1995)
“Coming from the school of hard knocks, some perpetrate, they drink Clorox, Attack the Black because I know they lack exact the cold facts, and still they try to Xerox” – Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype (1988)
The legendary Chinese master general Sun Tzu said that all war is based on deception. Deceptive is a very fitting term to describe an innumerable amount of police narratives that have been given to us historically on a daily basis, especially in respects to the unjust treatment, brutality, murder and terror of Black, Brown and Red people at the hands of law enforcement in the United States. As the publisher of Urban America Newspaper in South Florida for over five years reading such police narratives became common place for me. Likewise was the unraveling of truth covered up within them. Often times the people who were arrested, shot, brutalized, terrorized or killed were presented as being crazy, as if they belonged more in an insane asylum than in a jail cell. It is the same today.
Here’s an example. In 2006 an emcee by the name of Caliba came to me with a story about how he was unjustly arrested on the beach. According to him and several other sources, Caliba ran into one of his rivals near a club in South Miami Beach. Hip Hop open mic and event organizers have for years discouraged emcees from battling in the street like that because of the constant negative run-ins that they would have with police who did not understand their culture. In the midst of the battling in this particular case, police showed up and told the two emcees to “STOP FIGHTING!” Caliba was told specifically to go across the street. Caliba complied and quickly walked across the street. However, because he was upset that his battle was abruptly ended by police with no definite winner he began to vent loudly. Police followed up by arresting him and later tasing him while cuffed in the back of a police vehicle because he refused to stay quiet. The way it read in the police report was incomplete and was phrased in such a way that made Caliba appear crazy. It read that Caliba was “fighting” with someone in the street. He was told to stop fighting and go across the street. He went across the street and “started fighting some more.” After contesting the charges in court, Caliba was cleared of the charges.
The way circumstances are today, with the high rate of police homicide on Black, Latino and Indigenous lives, many of our people aren’t as lucky to speak about the truth and reality concerning their negative encounters with police. But it is obvious that almost every time that we get the police narrative it is incomplete and made to appear like the slain was crazy and at fault. A more careful analysis of most cases in which our people are unjustifiably brutalized, terrorized or murdered, as in the cases of Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Mario Woods, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown,
Dontre Hamilton, John Crawford, Dante Parker, Akai Gurley, Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Pedro Erick Villanueva, Anthony Nunez, Vinson Ramos, Melissa Ventura, Raul Saavedra-Vargas, Rexdale W. Henry, Jesse Hernandez and countless others, we find that they were situations that could have been avoided and/or de-escalated as shown in countless of examples dealing with whites in similar or even much more dangerous circumstances.
Coherently, the recent so-called retaliatory shootings and killing of police officers in both Dallas, Texas and Baton
Rouge, Louisiana can have us easily conclude that the narratives presented by police and the media are not only incomplete, but in many ways are flawed and dangerous; meant to unjustifiably blame and target groups in our community that have historically stood for truth and justice. In the case of Micah Xavier Johnson, the identified Dallas shooter, it has been repeatedly said that he was upset with the Black Lives Matter Movement and wanted to kill white police officers, however there are no official voice recordings or witnesses that can verify this argument. All that is known, according to the police narrative, in the midst of a Black Lives Matter demonstration, is that Johnson used military tactics to shoot and kill five police officers while “taunting” and “singing” to them. It is also argued that his identity was ultimately discovered because his identification card miraculously survived a bomb detonation through the use of a robot; unusually, the first time such a military tactic of this nature has been used on a US civilian. Soon after his identity was revealed, a picture from his social media page that has been repeatedly used by the media is one in which he is wearing a dashiki. It was also said that he was in and around Black militant groups that carried weapons; making different “African-centered” groups in general targets. Within an hour of his name being released, some in
the media were emphasizing that his middle name began with an “X,” making the fraudulent claim that he went by the name “Micah X,” because he was influenced by Malcolm X and The Nation of Islam, making The Nation of Islam a target. Yet another picture that was repeatedly used by the media was one that he took with Professor Griff of the political Hip Hop group Public Enemy, making not only Professor Griff, but Public Enemy and ultimately all Hip Hoppers that are “Black Conscious” targets. Professor Griff recently held two press conferences stressing that he did not know Johnson personally and how in the digital age it is very common for fans to take pictures with celebrities and post them on their social media pages.
In the case of Kansas City resident Gavin Long, according to the official police narrative he was walking in an area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana unusually dressed in a “ninja” outfit intentionally seeking to shoot and kill police. However, according to initial reports from WAFB Channel 9 news in Baton Rouge, residents said they had heard shots in the area right prior to the police showing up on the scene. Here again, a false police narrative, in this case exposed by the media itself. When police showed up, three of them were killed and another three were injured by Long. Just as in the case of Micah Xavier Johnson, Long was killed before any information could be gathered from him. A robot was also sent to him as well. In this particular case in order to make sure he did not have any bombs on his person. After his name was publicly released, a video from his YouTube channel, under the name “Cosmo Ausar Setepenra” was posted in the media in which he spoke against the killing of Alton Sterling. Despite him saying clearly in the video that he stood alone and had no group affiliation, several media sources have insidiously emphasized more the statement he made about “how he used to be a member of The Nation of Islam.” Just as in the Dallas shooting incident this poor form of journalism, which is really not journalism at all, is nothing more than what is clearly a plot to inspire white militia groups to target The Nation of Islam and other Black conscious movements that emphasize Self-knowledge and Self-development. No effort has been made to ask members of The Nation of Islam in Kansas City, Missouri or in Baton Rouge, Louisiana or even at its National Headquarters in Chicago if he was an “official member” or not. Just as a note in my own personal experience in the Nation of Islam, I have met many people in over 20 years that have claimed that were “once members” of The Nation of Islam. After I investigated in many instances I came to discover that those that made such claims had actually merely attended Mosque meetings. In some cases they had only gone as far as attending Orientation Class (where more information is given about The Teachings of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and how to become registered members). In my own personal experience, most people that become registered but stop attending after a while seldom use the phrase “I used to be a member.” Those who become registered but stop attending after a while usually use the phrase that they are “inactive.” In addition, anyone who is acquainted with The Nation of Islam know as a verified fact that
registered members do not carry as much as a pen knife. Further evidence shown that not just The Nation of Islam but Black conscious groups in general are being targeted is noted by how several media sources highlighted the fact that on another video on his YouTube channel show Long giving away Black conscious books from his own personal collection to people. Similarly to Professor Griff’s experience with Micah Xavier Johnson, it has been publicly noted that Long had attended business seminars conducted by author Dr. Boyce Watkins and Hip Hop entrepreneur Damon Dash and how consequently had been receiving email blasts from Watkins. Watkins has similarly come out publicly and has stressed that he did not know Long personally.
The fact that both Johnson and Long were dishonorably discharged from the military has been emphasized. But what is not mentioned is how many men in the military suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, often times untreated, and how experiments are often performed specifically on Blacks (and Latinos) in the military using psychotropic drugs, causing them to act in erratic ways both while they serve in the military and afterwards when they are discharged, dishonorably or otherwise. Also consider that when much information is missing from these types of narratives presented to us, it leaves much room to make the accused, who are now dead and cannot speak, appear mentally unstable; as if police are all the way “normal” when we learn of yet another incident of one of us getting shot, injured or killed.
The war that is being waged on us presently in America begins not with the physical, but with forces that impact the mind which ultimately cause us as a collective to act and react in ways desired by those in positions of power who constantly and consistently work to deny us Freedom, Justice and Equality. Our choices under such a wretched condition that we are presently in limit our perspective of reality which land the majority of us cyclically either in the military, in prison or dead. As The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has taught us, we cannot afford to lose another generation. A new cultural movement of consciousness is needed for this time that inspires us, especially our youth, to think intelligently and work on behalf of our people in the Spirit of Love and Truth! Our people cannot wait! We need this Movement NOW! In the mean time, let us practice not simply going along with police narratives. Let us come together and organize whether we are Pan-Africanists, Black Nationalists, Nation of Islam, Moors, Nation of Aztlan, Hebrew Israelites, Native Americans, etc. and learn how to write our own narratives; not just the kind that we have to work to unravel truth while living in an unjust system based on lies, but one that we write in advance for our collective benefit where true FREEDOM, JUSTICE AND EQUALITY EXISTS FOR US ALL! Unity is needed among us more than ever before because this war doesn’t affect any one particular group. In truth, it affects all of us!
Until next time, Peace and Universal Love!
Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies and Humanities in Miami-Dade County Schools for over 17 years. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference (2004 – 2009). He has also designed curricula in the area of Black, Latino and Hip Hop studies for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Patrick Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.