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August 22, 2014
Star Features


Young black men endangered?

There must be something really toxic between some policemen and young black men in this part of the world.

For years, Jamaicans have lamented and protested over the way in which some members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force have snuffed out the lives of many young men in this country.

There have been many sad stories surrounding the many young lives wasted by bullets fired from the guns of rogue policemen. From the teenagers who were slaughtered at a house in Portmore a few years ago, and tragedies like the killing of Robert 'Kentucky Kid' Hill back in 2009, to recent incidents where poor, black young men from all over Jamaica are needlessly gunned down, allegedly in cold blood, the message being sent could not have been clearer: don't mess with the police. This is especially true if you are young, black and poor.

Trigger-happy policeman

There was a time when I used to argue with policemen about being stopped because it always seems they do whenever I am in a hurry to get somewhere, but these days, if I am stopped, I never utter a word. Why? Because I never know what is going to set off some trigger-happy policeman looking to add another notch to his pistol. I know I don't meet all the criteria, but I am not taking any chances. I am not young, but poor and black fit me just fine right now.

Let me pause here to qualify my statements. When I refer to policemen, I don't mean all policemen. There are many policemen out there, including ones who have asked me to pull over when I am in a hurry, who have been quite courteous, and there have been several who I have personally found to be very accommodating and human during the discharge of their duties. Those are not the ones to whom I am referring here.

I am referring to those, like the ones we have seen in the USA this past week, who really don't need an excuse to take the life of a young man whose only crime is that he is either black, poor or both.

Young white men

Take for example what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, recently, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot six times by a policeman and his body left on the roadway for more than four hours, or just this past Tuesday, when 25-year-old Kajieme Powell was shot dead by policemen in St Louis, for no apparent reason. The video of the killing is there on Facebook and I believe YouTube for all to see.

Like there in the USA, you never see these things happen to young white men here in Jamaica. How many times have you heard of a young Jamaican white man being abused or killed by the police? Never!

Common denominator

So what you have, is here in Jamaica, black policemen are killing young black men, and in the USA, black and white policemen are killing young black men. The only common denominator is the police. If I didn't know better, I would be forced to believe that killing young black men is in some secret, universal police manual that is adopted by the killer cops in this hemisphere and, more specifically, in Jamaica and in the USA.

It is why I find it hypocritical when the USA takes these high-handed approaches where they call out countries for human rights abuses. What happens in that country to black men every day is in no way different from what happens here.

What needs to happen in both countries is that people need to take a stand. These murders need to stop. These are the things people must protest. These are the things the churches in both countries need to hold marches about. Yes, many are fearful. Nobody wants to die, but consider this:

When the young black men are all gone, who do you think these rogue cops will turn on next?

Send comments to levyl1@hotmail.com.

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