Poetry Break

“Stop and Frisk” by Claudia Rankine

Daunte Wright should not have died. On April 11, 2021, a 20-year-old African-American man was fatally shot by police officer Kimberly Ann Potter. It happened during a traffic stop. Wright was going to be arrested for outstanding felony warrants, but after a brief struggled with officers, he was shot. He made an attempt to flee, but wound up crashing his car into another. He was pronounce dead at the scene.

It was said that Kimberly Ann Potter had meant to use her Taser on the young man; instead, she accidentally grabbed her gun and shot Wright once in the chest. A couple of days later, both Potter and the Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon resigned from their positions. This, however, does not make up for the carelessness of Potter’s slight.

And it seems that every time this happens, the right has to voice their song – “He shouldn’t have run.” It’s almost as if running away is a death sentence. But it’s easy to say something like that when white shooters are treated with better favor than unarmed, nonviolent black passersby.

Police cam footage from December was released showing Caron Nazario, an Army officer in his fatigues, being held at gunpoint during a traffic stop. Nazario voiced his fear of getting out of his car to which the police responded, “Yeah, you should be!”

All this comes as the trial for the murder of George Floyd controls the narrative. And it doesn’t feel like we’re growing or learning from these mistakes. As long as the police continue to get away with murdering African-American men and women, no lessons will be learned and no justice will be served.

For the seventeenth poem, I have chosen “Stop and Frisk” by Claudia Rankine.

More Claudia Rankine

Poetry Break

“Mama Said” by Isaac Nellum

As I write this post, George Floyd’s killer stands trial. Derek Chauvin’s defense tries to diminish his involvement in Floyd’s death, stating it was drugs or a bad lifestyle that caused it. But evidence is building up against that narrative. Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, saw things differently by stating: “There’s no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement” (NY Times).

Medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker also debunks the defense’s story by stating that drugs and heart disease might have aided in Floyd’s death, they were not the cause of it (Yahoo). While specialist Dr. Martin Tobin stated, “A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died” (KNSI Radio).

But so many people have heard this story before. So many more will continue to live it. A white cop, in the heat of the moment, makes a brash decision that leads to an unarmed, black man’s death. Black Lives Matters seems to have become profanity in the mouths of those who “back the blue.” And these are the same people who turned their backs on the police as the stormed the halls of Congress to overturn the outcome of a fair election.

This is why I have chosen Isacc Nellum’s (aka lebunny) poem, “Mama Said” as the fourteenth poem for National Poetry Month.