Take A Knee, Mr. Goodell.

Take both knees. Grovel.

Ask Colin Kaepernick which team he wants to lead down the field, give him the team. Ask Colin Kaepernick how much he wants to get paid, double the salary. 

Then turn over your salary. Then resign, Mr. Goodell.

To Sandra Bland.

I watched the memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis. I watched the memorial for George Floyd in Houston. I always suspected heartbreak was bottomless but now I know for sure.

To Tamir Rice.

I watched 11,000 protesters get arrested for demanding justice, standing up for equality, putting their health on the line because they’ve seen enough brutality. And what did they get? Batons. Rubber Bullets. Tear Gas. Double Zip Tie Handcuffs. Prison Cells where Social Distancing is a Cruel Joke. A Bible Photo Op.

To Eric Garner.

It begs the question…

In 11,000 arrests, have they issued a warrant and kicked in the door on the No Knock Warrant Killers who killed Breonna Taylor?

Say Her Name.

Why do I have to ask, when I know the answer. Why do I have to shame The NFL, when I know Mr. Goodell is impervious to self-reflection. Why do I have to explain Defund The Police, when I know the only leverage applicable to White Nationalist Thuggery is violence and money and violence and money and blow me, you baton sucking pussy-ass motherfucker!

To Ahmud Arbery.

You cannot reform that which is fundamentally broken. You know what’s worse than a bad cop? A good cop who goes quietly along.

To Emmett Till.

I drove Jenna home in a snowstorm, she was a waitress who worked for me at a restaurant I was running with my brother in a Chicago neighborhood called Lakeview. I borrowed my brother’s blue SUV. It was a big truck. It munched snow for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I dropped Jenna off in front of her apartment and made my way back to Belmont, driving up Halsted. As I got near the intersection, I noticed all of the cars were either stuck in snow or sliding willy-nilly. The blue SUV was munching snow – munch munch munch – I drove past all of the cars and made a left.

Just before I got to Belmont, I noticed lights flashing behind me, so I pulled over to get out of the way. Instead of passing, the patrol car pulled up behind me. The cop approached my window.

“You don’t make a left turn behind cars, you make a left turn in front of cars,” he said. “Don’t you know how to drive?”

“I’m sorry officer,” I said. “Usually I wouldn’t do that but all of the cars seemed to be having a hard time in the snow. This car was built for a night like this. I was trying to be helpful.”

“Helpful. That’s what you call it? Helpful,” he said. “Why aren’t you in Humboldt Park?”

“Humboldt Park?” I asked. “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

To Philandro Castile.

I should let you know I didn’t know then but I do now. Time doesn’t bend, time is frozen and at the moment in time I’m writing about, with snow pouring out of the sky, with buses abandoned on Lake Shore Drive, I was still relatively new to Chicago. I didn’t know the neighborhoods by name. I was starting to feel the segregation but I couldn’t have articulated the feeling. Humboldt Park is a largely Hispanic neighborhood, gorgeous, vibrant and known for gangs.

To Botham Jean.

The cop had sized me up: cappuccino complexion, goat-tee, long hair pushed back by a snood. I cannot blame him for thinking I looked like a drug dealer, it was my aesthetic. Back then, pseudo edgy was my thing. I thought it was sexy. Truth be told, I still do.

“Get out of the car,” he said.

I got out of the car. He cuffed me and put me in the back seat of the patrol car. His partner was sitting in the front seat, seething. She was furious but I couldn’t tell you why. We both watched as her partner tore the blue SUV apart. He found nothing.

“I don’t understand,” I said to his partner. “I was driving a waitress home in a snowstorm. My brother and I run a restaurant on Belmont.”

She said nothing and in her silence I understood one thing very clearly: she was seething because her partner was out of control and it was pissing her off because she wasn’t interested in doing anything about it, which meant I was fucked.

To Trayvon Martin.

They drove me to the police station on Addison and Halsted, walked me into a small room, cuffed me to a desk. As he began yelling at me, screaming in my face, she left the room, standing just outside the door. Over the course of the next few hours, he went off on me.

She. Did. Nothing.

Luckily I was old enough to remain calm, to recognize he’d lost control of himself, to recognize his partner was totally over him but was sticking her neck out for no man, least of all me. 

To Amadou Diallo.

I was on my own and the best thing I could do was accept the abuse, stay calm and keep repeating my story, which was true, even though it infuriated him.

I made a quiet bet with myself.

I bet my freedom that eventually he’d calm down simply by exhausting himself. I’ve watched enough toddlers wear themselves out with a tantrum and that’s all that was happening in the police station – a White Nationalist Toddler was throwing a White Naitonalist Temper Tantrum – plus a gun and a badge and a partner whose silent complicity killed Christ.

There’s not much more to the story after that.

Somewhere in the night, it dawned on him I was telling the truth. Somewhere in the night, my brother arrived at the police station to pick me up in a cab, since his car was parked under a mountain of snow, somewhere in the night. Incidentally, my brother didn’t believe me when I called him.

“What kind of a dumbshit asshole cop would pull someone over in a snowstorm?” he asked.

“Please be nice,” I said. “I’m at the police station on Addison and Halsted, cuffed to a desk, on speaker phone.”

To Michael Brown.

A few days later, after I got some sleep and regained my composure, I went back to file a complaint. When I got to the police desk, I recognized a few of the officers who’d been there on that night.

“Turn around,” one of them said to me. “Turn around and walk out of here or it’s going to be a long night for you, pal.”

As I turned around, the entire police desk erupted in laughter, mocking me with impunity. And that, more than anything else, is their crime: Mocking With Impunity.

To Abner Louima.

To Laquan McDonald.

To Michelle Lee Shirley.

To Breonna Taylor.

To Fred Hampton.

They are sick. They are broken. They are out of control. They are overfunded. They are armed for warfare. And yet…

They. Work. For. Us.

Defund The Police, fire them all. Let the cops re-apply for their jobs, prove their worthiness. Stop tuning in for football. Defund The NFL, insist the owners rehire Colin Kaepernick and institute a national kneeling policy whereby any fan who refuses to take a knee during the national anthem is thrown out and fucked with a foam finger.

I bumped into the cop who arrested me a few months later, in the spring, at a bar called Frank’s. He was shocked when he saw me. I smiled at him. He smiled back.

“You were driving a waitress home in a snowstorm afterall,” he said. “I suppose I owe you an apology.”

“Can I buy you a beer?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “Why not.”

I didn’t want to buy him a beer. I wanted to go back in time, cuff him to the desk, yell in his arrogant fucking face; grab his partner by the ear in the back of the patrol car, give her fat fucking head a noogie; load a silly string machine gun with canisters of red, yellow and blue silly string, blast every baton sucking pussy-ass motherfucker at the police desk who mocked me with impunity. If only time could bend. Well guess what? I can! I can bend time…

“Cheers,” he said.

“Cheers,” I said. “To George Floyd.”