A Time to Speak and Act for Amadou

By Margot Harry

Revolutionary Worker #1044, February 27, 2000

Wheeler Avenue was at my feet. Four white men with guns were firing. Amadou, you are about to be annihilated.

It happened so fast. The bullets froze in mid air, as if stopped by a force field. It was then that I sensed the presence of others--knew their voices and felt their torment. An army of stolen lives had gathered.

I heard the cries of 11 MOVE people, killed by Philadelphia police 15 years ago, commanding the bullets to stop. Anthony Baez, a young Puerto Rican man whose smile I know only from family photos, whose life was ended by a Bronx cop, reached out to grab a bullet and knock it down. For over 40 bullets the cops squeezed out, another victim rushed to meet it. They were so brave. Young Nicholas Heyward, Jr., all of 13 years old, shot dead by a NYC housing authority cop... Lamar Grable...Tyisha Miller...Angel Castro...Kelsey Hogan...Justin Smith...Mark Garcia...Kuan Chung Kao...Esequiel Hernandez.... They are Black and Latino and other people of color, young and not so young, speaking many languages, but now, in this moment, no one can hear them.

The bullets stared at us: hard, cold, lethal metal, issued by the NYPD, manufactured to kill--nails to hold together a system that ought to be the one dying. Rapid fire extensions from the long arm of the law. The cops come like they do every night to impose their will. To instill fear. To keep things the way they are. The night conceals nothing.

The force of the bullets is stronger than the voices of those whose lives have already been stolen. Shots tear through Amadou. A bullet pierces his aorta. His heart keeps beating but there's no blood to pump and it gushes down inside him. His spinal cord is hit. Amadou, you are falling but the bullets keep coming, a storm of steel cutting you to pieces.

There is a social uproar over Amadou's murder. Over 1,000 protesters arrested--and the guilty cops are indicted. But a trial for justice does not come from those who arm, train and deploy these cops.

The trial becomes a televised public forum for the police to justify killing Amadou. The guilty cops paint Amadou as suspicious because he looked out his doorway, up and down the street. They say he retreated from them. They say he refused to put his hands out. They say he had a gun. They say they saw him fire at them. They say they thought they were going to die. They say he took a combat stance. They fired and kept firing because they say the bullets had no effect. They say they thought one of the cops had been shot.

A thousand voices roar inside my head, enraged. They are warning us: get ready.

Amadou had no gun. Amadou could not fire what he didn't have. These cops are lying murderers, crying tears for the TV--mad that they even got indicted at all. They are killing Amadou all over again. And they plan to get away with it.

Amadou is called a "perp" (perpetrator) by one of the cops' lawyers and the prosecution doesn't object. There is common ground in portraying Amadou's Bronx neighborhood as bad, full of criminals, drug infested. They appeal to the broader public to look at Amadou through the eyes of the police: everyone is suspect. Police say they do this to protect you--the good citizens of the jury and middle America. But they are protecting something else. The prosecutors don't go for the jugular vein and tear into these cops' lies because they'd be tearing into their own skin. The system they enforce has got a program designed to keep their class rule protected. It demands the oppressed be intimidated, criminalized, imprisoned and killed. Every precinct in the city is watching. The trial is a signal: keep doing what you are doing.

I can see them lift Amadou's lifeless body. Bullets fall from his flesh and hit the steps of the stoop. There never was a gun, only a wallet. I can see officers racing through Amadou's apartment looking for something, anything to justify the life they have just stolen. I can hear the persistent police questioning of Amadou's roommate, who is not told that Amadou's been killed by cops. I can see one of the killer cops on nearby Boyton Avenue beating a young man just hours before this same cop will fire at Amadou. I can see another of these cops shooting Patrick Bailey in Brooklyn, letting him bleed to death, and being exonerated by local and federal authorities. The jury heard none of this.

They have shed Amadou's blood. They have dipped the judge's gavel in it. The court has all but handed the jury a gun and said, go ahead, shoot Amadou your ownself.

A verdict will soon come. It is time to firmly embrace the stolen life of Amadou, speak and act for him and all the other victims, and make the political price for taking these lives very high.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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