On the other hand...

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

This is ridiculous:

About 60 people marched and rallied in Oakland on Wednesday to condemn the police and honor Lovelle Mixon, who was killed by Oakland police after he fatally shot four officers Saturday...
"OPD you can't hide - we charge you with genocide," chanted the demonstrators as they marched along MacArthur Boulevard, near the intersection with 74th Avenue where Mixon, 26, a fugitive parolee, gunned down two motorcycle officers who had pulled him over in a traffic stop. He killed two more officers who tried to capture him where he was hiding in his sister's apartment nearby.

The protest was organized by the Oakland branch of the Uhuru Movement, whose flyers for the march declared, "Stop Police Terror." Many marchers wore T-shirts featuring Mixon's photo, including a woman identified by march organizers as Mixon's mother. The woman declined to comment and gave her name only as Athena.

Lolo Darnell, one of Mixon's cousins at the demonstration, said, "He needs sympathy too. If he's a criminal, everybody's a criminal."

Asked about police allegations that Mixon was suspected in several rapes, including that of a 12-year-old girl, marcher Mandingo Hayes said, "He wasn't a rapist. I don't believe that."

This is a familiar refrain for anyone whose come up in shouting distance of the hood. Jay-Z articulated the phenomenon of mothers swearing their slain sons were angels:

I put your crew in hard-bottoms, the preacher's like God's Got Em
He ain't did nothing to nobody, but them boy's shot em

Beyond that, my Pops published a book a few years back looking at the legacy of the Black Panther Party. He was really proud, given that he'd been a Panther. Though largely sympathetic, and maybe slightly nostalgic, the book is not a piece of hagiography. In one of the more trenchant essays, the author points out the folly of equating thugs with revolutionaries, of essentially criminalizing the vanguard. Man, just writing that sentence takes me back to 95.

Anyway it's a rather stupid pattern that's been repeated on the black left (and likely on the radical right, too) right up through hip-hop. Think T.I. nuzzling up with Farrakhan, or Eldridge Cleaver asserting that rape was a revolutionary act. It's very hard for me to imagine Malcolm X making such a claim.

A few years back, I remember this group doing "cop watches" in the style of the old Panthers. They'd basically follow cops around to make sure they weren't brutalizing anybody. I used to think cool, but are you watching for them fools who stuck up my girl after she got off the Q train? In all fairness, that sort of thinking is much less common today. But when we see it, we should call it out.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2009/03/on-the-other-hand/6991/