Old news

I lose consciousness of ugly bestial raid
and repetitive affront as when they tell me
18 cops in order to subdue one man
18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle (don’t
you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue and
scuffle my oh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn
street was just a “justifiable accident” again
(again)

That’s from June Jordan’s “Poem about Police Violence,” from way back in 1980. The poets have been telling about this for at least thirty five years, longer than a lot of you have been alive. And if we forgot (because who reads poetry any more), there was Oscar Grant. And Eric Garner. And now Freddie Gray.

June Jordan said:

People have been having accidents all over the globe
so long like that I reckon that the only
suitable insurance is a gun
I’m saying war is not to understand or rerun
war is to be fought and won

Didn’t Malcolm X say that back around 1960? And — OK, I hear you, violence is not the answer, and I agree with you on that one. But then what is the answer? Because we seem to be hearing the same old news again.

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