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My first police memory is of 1980’s Los Angeles being 7 or 8 in the back of the big van my mama drove us all around in. her 5 kids. and this one time a cop pulls her over and her voice changes. she tells us shhhh and we r quiet. the police officers and their 500 watt flashlights come gleaming into the side windows of the van. bright lights right where I was curled up on one of the back seat captain’s chairs. i remember trying to retract my legs like tortoise appendages up into my body so that he cdn’t see how brown n baby-like i was. this one cop lookin right at me. his flashlight a white line over my body. then he talks hard to my mama. both f her hands on the steering wheel. hard talk. mean mouthed. too close to her face. n from the back seat I say.why he so mean to you mommy. or something like this. to find out why I felt so scared for us and her. n that officer shines his light back on me. tells me to shut up. cuz he kin do worse than this and kin take me outta the car and put the cuffs on me. cuz i sure do have some things to know about don’t i. n after we drive off my mama is yelling at me. saying didn’t i say. didn’t I say. what did I tell you. n then she cries. n says something like you be so careful. the world is not your friend. the police r not here to help. you must do what you kin fo yo self. and not giving them the police a reason will be one of yo life long tasks. (found out later in life that my mama was one of the U of W black student protesters that the police handcuffed n locked in the back of a storage van on Black Friday.) this is what I knew first. and then the DARE to keep kids offa drugs campaign. skeptical. alla dis to say that when people question Mumia’s innocence and his assertion that he’s ALWAYS been innocent i think about how n this america cell phones have cameras and hips have cell phones. and the news runs 24 hours everyday. even christmas new year’s n Juneteenth. n how. it’s only recently that the idea of black lives matter took hold of a hash tag. n the Chicago police is paying reparations to people they systematically strategically willfully knowingly committed heinous acts of terrorism n barbarism against. alla these years later i think about the bodies n rivers. i think about alla the families that will not ever receive reparations from alla the police departments n prison systems who did and r still doing terrorism on the bodies n souls of their loved ones. dis is what I remember. a grown man threatening to put handcuffs on an eight year old girl. Free Mumia.
copyright 2015 Vanessa German