Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alas, Ferguson: a poem

I wrote this poem to express my thoughts, feelings, and concerns about the current events happening in Ferguson, Missouri, in which militarized police are cracking down hard on people protesting the shooting of an unarmed African American youth, by a police man.

Alas, Ferguson,
who would have thought that
in 2014 America, black people protesting
would be met with militarized “police” 
with tanks and automatic weapons
and tear gas and body armor—

these new “warrior cops” 
much better armed than their
counterparts in Birmingham, AL,
1963, who only had dogs,
and fire hoses, and hand guns,
and billy clubs.

In 50 years, 
we have devolved to this.

An African-American president
sits in the White House 
and fails to send in protection
to a city under martial law—
journalists kept out,
a no-fly zone,
American Kandahar.

Alas, Ferguson.
are you a sign to things to come?
Or will you be a cautionary tale
of the ugly future we, just barely, 
avoided?

The other day, in my hometown
of Fullerton, I watched as classes
of school children were parading
down Commonwealth Avenue,
following a SWAT vehicle—
a sort of weird, fucked-up
Orwellian field trip.

The very same Fullerton where,
just three years ago, 
six police officers killed 
an unarmed homeless man
who “would not comply”
and, despite video of the whole thing,
all the cops got off scot-free.

I was at the protest where SWAT teams
and a tank were sent in,
and dozens of undercover,
plain-clothed cops milled about—
watching, waiting, surveilling.
I saw them arrest people for filming
on public streets and sidewalks,

the lesson hammered home hard,
with an iron fist—
You are not free any longer,
O land of the free.
If you rise up and speak,
we will crush you down.

Alas, Ferguson.
Alas, America.

Awake from your amnesia
and let history be your teacher,
to avoid the slippery slope
down which you are sliding.

Alas, Ferguson.
Alas, America.


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