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A Cry for Justice

By Canute R. Birch

How does a Black man, distressed by his stalled vehicle, end up dead at the hands of White police officers? Why do you even need to raise your hands when your vehicle is stalled? Can you criminalize a stalled vehicle? And is it a crime to jog while Black? Must a Black man prove his innocence only through death?!Nonsense! We want justice! Living justice! Now justice!

But justice, why do you disappear when flashing lights appear? When suited up White men or even White women drive up, jump up, jack us up, shooting down innocent Black men? Tell me, justice: Why do you flee?

Justice, oh justice where have you gone? You have escaped the hood, the inner city, the Negro, and flown to the suburbs. No, to the rural reaches and rustic enclaves of racist White America. And there you lay in comfort while I die. Or so it seems. For I peer in the distance; I cry for your help, but I cannot see you; I do not hear you. You don’t show up at my door; you don’t show up in court.

Come back, justice, we pray you. Come to the hood; come under my hood; we ain’t doin’ nothin’ to you. Smile on us; we also need you. We humans too; God's creation. And if you don't come, they'll kill us all. They’re doing it now. And they’re not Arabs; they’re not Muslims; they’re White and many say they're Christians.

Justice, here they come: flashing lights, screeching tires, angry shouts, barking dogs; see for yourself! I done nothin’ wrong. If they’re scared of us, why do they become police? To kill us, justice?

Justice, oh justice, come quickly or I die, or my son, or my brother, or my friend, or my neighbor, just because they look like me. Climb into your chamber and declare me innocent: for whether I jog, I crawl, I stand or I fall, I lay on my back, I put my hands in the air, I cry (“can’t breathe,”), I still die, though I’ve done nothing wrong. Nothing! Nothing that I should have my life shot out, snuffed out, squeezed out, yanked out of me. I just need help. Help! Help! Help, please? Justice, oh justice. . .

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