In this opinion column, Alex Horton, a gentleman who served two tours in Iraq at the height of the fighting recounts a raid on the apartment he was occupying in Virginia. Horton survived his encounter and was able to convince the officers there was nothing wrong. He then compares his training and the different strategies used in Iraq with those of the officers in Virginia. The long and short is that community engagement in both places saves lives, while an aggressive protect-the-badge-at-all-costs approach costs lives, generally those of civilians.

Nicked from a followup tweet, Horton notes ‘Some folks said being white helped. Probably true. Cuffs weren’t tight. They were cordial after I said I taught a college course.’

Indeed, whiteness probably saved Horton’s life, given his description of the home invasion he experienced.

I don’t have much to add to the current debate on police tactics and brutality. The world in which Sandra Bland was murdered a couple of weeks ago is the world I grew up in. The LAPD’s record on race relations was appalling and only started to become less so in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating. And even then, the changes started to occur only because of a recording. I look forward to the day when all police behave as though their actions were part of the public record, whether or not their actions are recorded.

The Son of Baldwin page on Facebook cross-posted what I saw as an excellent response to murders of black people in police custody. Actually, he posts them daily, but a couple of days after Bland’s death, he shared a post from Diallo Kenyatta who suggests the Black community do four things to combat these murders. My feeling is that, as with the Civil Rights movements of the 60s, we should all participate in these. Kenyatta’s posts are also well worth following as well.

  1. Cancel the following Pro-Sport season, shut that shit completely down. We would not watch one game, hold one gathering or party, spend one red cent on any sports memorabilia, for an entire season for every single atrocity. Every single Black Ball-Chaster that played in a “Shut Down Season,” would permanently be Persona non grata in the Black community and culture; permanently. We could also develop the Pan-African Games, and Black Community Leagues the keep the talent and resources that emerges around sports within the Black community. We could do without even missing out on the athletics we love because there are countless opportunities to play and watch sports in our local communities.
  2. We’d target the biggest corporation or industry for any particular product or service for permanent sanctions. We’d, as a Race stop buying Nike; we could wear any shoe but Nike; then Adidas, then Puma, and on down the line. As we start our “Trickle Down Sanctions,” we invest the millions in savings in Black owned manufacturing infrastructure in Africa and the African Diaspora. We’d do the same for computers, cell phones, essential services, clothing brands, furniture, food products, etc. If they keep committing atrocities we keep adding permanently sanctioned companies, while preparing to fully replace the products or services with one offered by a Pan-African, cooperatively owned enterprise.
  3. We’d Implement a Holiday Divestment Program. We would shut down any holiday, refuse to observe or spend one fucking dime for every atrocity they commit, We don’t show up for the parades, we don’t buy presents, we don’t buy chocolate bunnies, or Valentine cards. We shut down and divest our time and money from any holiday that followed any atrocity. If that means we have to abstain from any Western Holiday, or Observance day, so be it; we take the funds we would have spent on that shit and roll it into building the Pan-African, cooperative manufacturing and service economy. We can also take that time to develop Pan-African Holidays, Rite-of-Passage Celebrations, Ancestral Feast and Festivals. We could strengthen our current cultural festivities and develop even more if we are not fucking around with European Whole-Lie-Daze anyway.
  4. For every one Black atrocity we can vow to divest from and close 1-10 non-Black owned businesses within our communities and vow to replace them with a Pan-African, cooperative enterprise; such action would only cost a few dollars per household.

I’d be surprised if we had long to wait for the next such atrocity, but I’m absolutely willing to put my money elsewhere in concerted effort with such boycotts.

Part of what we hear in the debate over police on civilian brutality is that the police have the right to protect themselves. I absolutely agree with this to a point. Members of the police force used to sign up, ostensibly, ‘to protect and serve’ (the motto of the Los Angeles Police Department). Now it seems that departments far and wide (though probably not all – there are a *lot* of police departments in the US) offer live action video games to officers (and in one case I read of recently, though can’t seem to cite in the moment, donors to the department). As a nation we buy into it because we consume this steady diet of fear. Is there that much to be fearful of? Real crime is at per capita levels not seen since the 60s. Less than one half of 1% of Americans were victims of violent crime in 2011 and 2013 ( On the other hand, in the first 204 days of 2015, there were 204 mass shootings – crimes in which more than four people were injured by guns.

There is very little will at the top of the media food chain to lead a charge away from violence. The old editorial maxim, ‘If it bleeds, it leads,’ is truer today than it was when it was popularised in the late 80s. (I was sure the phrase had to date back to the 60s, though it was coined in ’82, the sentiment goes back at least to the days of Heart’s yellow journalism.) As with Kenyatta’s boycott, the only thing that will truly change the argument is our pocket books. Think of all that could be done with the hours we spend on line and in front of the TV.