Police kill three people every day

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Literary-documentary essay on the freedom of blacks in the USA.

An account by William Faulkner

“Foolish nigger! Do you think there are enough Yankees in the world to beat the whites? asked her mother. Loosh was convinced that there was, that they were coming to free them, that they were already coming.

You mean they'll free us all? Will we all be free?

Yes! General Sherman will sweep the Earth and the entire race will be free!”

It was the 60s (of the 1861th century), the four years in which the Civil War ravaged the United States, between April 1865 and April 1863. They came to free them. Loosh had seen them down the road in Mississippi. Vicksburg had fallen after almost two months of siege, in July XNUMX. On the banks of the river.

The next day, it was hot. Colonel Sartoris was sitting in his shirt sleeves and socks, with his feet on the porch railing, when they saw them arrive. It was hot and the blue coats looked even hotter. They came in a hurry. They were looking for him and the colonel calmly waited for them. They wanted to know where Colonel John Sartoris lived.

Loosh was coming out of his hut, his bundle over his shoulder.

“- Loosh! Are you leaving too? said the grandmother.

- Yes I will. I was freed, the angel of God is going to lead me to the Jordan, I am no longer John Sartoris's, I am mine alone and my God's. And he went on his way, freed.

– Don't go, Philadelphia! Don't you know that this will only lead you to misery and hunger?

- I know. What they told you cannot be true. But he is my husband, I have to go with him”.

Sartoris had escaped. The cannon and the iron parts of the musket remained when they found the ashes of the house. The gate had been ripped off and everything. They set out on the road and traveled for six days. Then they saw them… a slow moving cloud of dust. Too slowly for them to be men on horseback. A burnt-out house, like theirs: three chimneys standing on a heap of ash, and a white woman with a child, looking down on them from a hut behind.

They followed. The burned houses and cotton gins, the fences torn down, and the white women and children (we never saw a single nigger) looking down at us from the nigger huts where they now lived.

“Poor people, said the grandmother.

They slept in the wagon. Suddenly they heard. They came along the road. There looked like fifty of them. We hear their hurried steps and a kind of murmur. Suddenly, I started to smell it. Blacks!

Then the sun rose and we moved on.

Let's go! Let's hear the niggers on the river, Cousin Denny said.

They began to drive along the road while the houses were still burning. It was impossible to count them. They carried children on their backs, old men and women who couldn't walk, men and women who should have been at home waiting to die. They were singing. His dream was to cross the Jordan River.

That's what Loosh said. That General Sherman would take them to Jordan, the grandmother remembered”.

“These blacks are not Yankees,” he said. The women still did not know if they were widows and if they had lost their children. They're going to blow up the bridge after the army crosses it. Nobody knows what they will do next. We left to listen to them again.

“Can you hear them?” he asked me. And we could hear them again. The hurried steps, as if singing in whispers, hurriedly passed through the gate. It's the third group tonight.

When the sun rose, we were already walking. We started to see the dust almost immediately and it seemed like we could smell them. They appeared singly, or in families, in the woods, beside us, in front of us, or behind us. Like a wave that hides the road, as water would have done in a flood. Most of them wouldn't look at us. It was like we weren't there. They no longer have to worry about the house or the money, because they burn and steal them. They don't have to worry about the blacks either, because they roam the roads all night, waiting to be drowned in the Jordan in the morning”.

Suddenly we arrived at the river. The cavalry closed the pass. They uttered a long lament, and the wagon rose in the wind; I saw men, women and children falling under the horses. We felt that the wagon was passing over them, we could not stop. Now we could see it clearly: a tide of blacks being blocked by the cavalry detachment... and the chant, all along the bank, with the voices of the women:

“Glory, glory, hallelujah! Behind us they continued singing, entering the river.

“Damn this war, damn it! They took the money, the blacks and the mules. Damn it!

Grandmother told them to go ahead.

– I suppose you all want to cross a few more rivers and follow the Yankee army, don't you? She asked them.

They did not answer.

Then he asked them again:

– Who will you listen to from now on?

- The Lady! One of them answered, after a long silence.

Then he stopped talking. He stayed there with the old people, the women and children, and the eleven or twelve blacks lost in freedom, in clothes made from cotton sacks and sacks of flour. Blacks who had lost their whites lived hidden in caves, in the hills. Like animals.

They all came back when we buried grandma. Its owners were gone. They lived like animals, in caves, without depending on anyone, without anyone depending on them, without anyone caring about their return, whether they would live or die. The slow gray rain mistreated, slow and gray and cold, the red earth in which they had buried the grandmother.

Until it all ended. All that was left was surrender. Colonel Sartoris had returned home. But the soldiers of the South, despite their surrender, remained soldiers.

They surrendered and recognized that they belonged to the United States. The war was over and they were pulling up cypresses and oaks to rebuild the house. They had lived four years for one reason only: to drive Yankee troops out of the South. They believed that when they concluded that, everything would be over.

But everything had just begun.

“Do you know what I am no longer? asked his friend, his milk brother. A nigger.

– What?, I asked.

- I'm not black anymore. I was abolished. There are no blacks any more, not in Jefferson or anywhere else.”

The two Burdens had come to Missouri, commissioned by Washington to organize blacks. were the carpet baggers. With a bag to buy the votes of miserable blacks for politicians alien to the land, who systematically broke their electoral promises.

The war was not yet over. It had just started. Before, a Yankee carried a rifle; now, instead of a rifle, he carried a wad of one-dollar bills issued by the United States Treasury in one hand and a wad of black ballot papers in the other.

Everyone was talking about elections. But Colonel Sartoris had told the two Burdens that the election would not take place with Cash Benbow, or any other Negro, as a candidate. The county men were to ride to Jefferson the next day, bearing arms. The Burden already had their black constituents camped in a cotton gin area near the village. Watched. It was all about scribbling on little pieces of paper and stuffing them in the urn.

When we got to the square, we saw the crowd of blacks, huddled behind the hotel door, with six or eight white men leading them like a herd of cattle. And Sartori's men lined up at the hotel door, blocking it.

An old black man was the doorman. Too old even to be free. And then Sartoris left. There were three shots. The first, from the Burdens. The other two from Sartoris's pistol. The herd of blacks was motionless. Sartoris put on his hat, picked up the urn and said:

“– These elections will be held in my house. Does anyone object?

America's Democracy

Democracy had begun to function. It was his inaugural act. As Faulkner recounted in detail in his remarkable the undefeated (Ed. Arx).

"- Those who want Cassius Benbow to be mayor of the city of Jefferson write "yes". Those who are against it, write “no”.

—I'll write it myself, to save time, said George Wyatt. He would write, and the men would pick them up one by one and put them in the urn.

“No need to count them,” Wyatt said.

– All voted “no”.

Colonel Sartoris and other men had organized night patrols to prevent the carpet baggers promote a black insurrection. They were from the North, foreigners. They had nothing to do there. Then he ran for the legislative chamber. He won a landslide victory.

- Times are changing. What will come will be a matter of consolidations, hoaxes and cheats. I'm tired of killing men! And he went to the duel unarmed. It was the origin of everything.

“For God's sake, damned man! Man, they shot me! I've been shot the same way before, mr. official. Please sir. police, don't shoot! Please! He said, while Thomas Lane was chasing him with his gun drawn.

– I can't breathe, I can't breathe… Black Floyd repeated, already on the ground, with the knee of another policeman, Dereck Chauvin, on his neck.

“It takes a lot of oxygen, a lot of it, to talk.

Chauvin said, while squeezing the oxygen that was left in Floyd's lungs.

- You'll kill me! Floyd said, predicting that his fate was in the hands of the police.”

Antwainnetta Edwards lounged on the porch of her Kenosha home on the shores of Lake Michigan, rocking her newborn daughter. Four days ago, the protest had erupted in the small town (with just over one hundred thousand inhabitants) where the police had shot black Jacob Blake on Sunday, August 23rd. He was 29 years old and became paraplegic.

The protests erupted into violence on Monday night and chaos erupted on Tuesday when armed white militias appeared on the streets and attacked demonstrators who were chanting. black lives matter. Two people died and many were injured. Small local businesses were burned.

“– Now we have to travel to the nearest county to buy food, while the police and armed militias control the streets. All businesses in the black or mulatto neighborhood are closed or destroyed.

Someday the bubble would have to burst. The community went from asking for help to demanding it. “In the meantime, we'll take care of ourselves. Nobody really cares about this community. It's not protected, like downtown, because black people live here. There is a perverse culture in the police forces of this country, but it is the result of racism and you cannot uproot those roots simply by getting rid of the police or voting.” “Because of capitalism, racism and discrimination, America's darkest and poorest people live precarious lives, including, on occasion, outside the law,” explains Derecka Purnell, journalist and author of Becoming abolitionists: police, protests, and the pursuit of freedom [Astra House, 2021]. The pursuit of freedom!

Black all

“- Foolish nigger! His mother had told the Loosh nigger.

– Do you think there are enough Yankees in the world to beat the whites? she asked him. Loosh was convinced that there was, that they were coming to free them, that they were already coming.

"You mean they'll free us all?" Will we all be free?

- Yes! General Sherman will sweep the Earth and all race will be free!”

While Chauvin was on trial, a white police officer killed Ma'Khia Bryant, a 15-year-old black girl, in Columbia, Ohio. She had called the police because the older children were threatening her. The police shot her four times. Who will dare to call the police now when they are in trouble?

“Even if we manage to eliminate racial biases in the police, it will not solve the problems of inequality and exploitation. If that were the case, there wouldn't be so many poor, white people in prison either. Last week, I saw a video of three police officers arresting and beating a 73-year-old white woman with dementia who was picking flowers on her way home. She had forgotten to pay for groceries at Walmart. The police dislocated her shoulder and bound her hands and feet. She was screaming that she wanted to go home and they were making fun of her,” said Derecka.

Thousands of police officers killed more than 2005 people of all races between 2017 and 82. Only XNUMX have been charged with murder or manslaughter. Despite all the changes, police still kill about three people every day in the United States, said Derecka Purnell.

*Gilberto Lopes is a journalist, PhD in Society and Cultural Studies from the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). author of Political crisis of the modern world (Uruk).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

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