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Archive for June 10, 2020

In Support of Civil Rights, Black Lives Matter and Reforming Police Departments


Hi. A side of me that most of you don’t know is that before I got into education I was:

a) a daily newspaper reporter who covered federal courts and as such, covered many lawsuits involving police misconduct and brutality,

b) a social activist,

c) a poet (still am).

Anyhow, with all that’s been going on, I wanted to express my support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for the overall movement for reforming our nation’s police departments.

One step I’ve taken is writing a poem in haiku format of the murder of George Floyd, which I will post here. My purpose in writing this poem is to let people who never saw the video understand what is on the video tape. I believe that it’s easier to read this poem, based on the tape, than to watch the actual footage.

So here is my poem.

The Murder of George Floyd

spring eve sundown
report of a counterfeit bill to 9-1-1
routine arrest

one squad car arrives …
two… three … three?

third car:
23 complaints
against its two cops

man sought?
seated in a Mercedes
greeted by an officer’s gun

he gets out two cops
escort him across the street

conflict —
cops order the man into their squad car
but he’s scared

says he can’t breathe
the cops nix a discussion

birdsong ceases —
cop named Chauvin tries shoving
the man into the back seat

now fallen to the pavement
the man on his stomach

Chauvin’s partner Officer Thao
scanning for anyone who might
interfere with their work

chest puffed feet wide –
as Chauvin subdues the man —
Thao stands guard

Chauvin hands in pockets
slams his knee into the man’s neck

knee-neck-pavement
death sandwich
Minneapolis style

seconds stretch into minutes
a crowd gathers

STOP! people shout
YOU’RE enjoying it he isn’t!
Chauvin sunglasses atop his head movie-star style

I can’t BREATHE! the man groans
Mama! MAMA!

Officer Thao
tough-guy stance
blocking people’s view

yet unable to block the 17-year-old girl
filming everything

five minutes the man stops moving
Officer Kueng checks his wrist:
no pulse

Lane the fourth officer asks Chauvin:
Shouldn’t we roll him on his side?

sunset’s orange deepens
yet Chauvin’s knee stays in place
the man’s life ebbs

ambulance arrives its paramedic
tests the man’s pulse nothing

still Chauvin’s knee
pins the man’s neck
to the pavement

an onlooker to Chauvin: Look at him!
He’s not responsive, bro!

nearly nine minutes
after subduing the man
Chauvin removes his knee

Officer Thao’s gaze
now                           distant

Chauvin flips the man over
his body lifeless
a rag doll

the dead    or dying    man
placed inside the ambulance  

flashing light    a firetruck with EMS help —
cops give its driver false info
for meeting the ambulance

the firetruck wanders away
under a blood-red sky

©  j rap

6.4.20

The information for this poem is derived from multiple news accounts in the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, CNN; the official Criminal Complaint against Derek Chauvin, filed 5/29/2020 by the Hennepin County (MN) District Attorney, 4th Judicial District; and the video recording of George Floyd’s arrest and murder taken bravely at the scene by citizen-witness Darnella Frazier. 

Feel free to distribute this poem, as long as you attribute it to j rap, my pen name.

josh@SingingTurtle.com