Tuesday, December 16, 2014


By Cash Michaels

            MENTALITY – Question…what do butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers born in the United States all have in common?
            Answer…. they were all born here, so they’re American citizens, imbued with the Constitutional right of free speech. That means they, and anyone else who is a citizen of this great nation, are entitled to voice their considered opinions about their government – be it local or federal.
            That’s part of their citizenship, an a long as they expressed those entitled opinions in responsible ways,…well, that’s what makes a democracy.
            Police departments are legally arms of local government, thus, citizens, who provide the salaries of all government employees and officials through paying their taxes, have a say in how they are policed.
            So why are we taking valuable time and considerable ink to point these basic rules of citizenship out? Because apparently members of the Cleveland Police Department haven’t gotten the memo about exactly who works for whom around here.
            How else to explain the inexplicable Cleveland police reaction to Cleveland Browns running back Andrew Hawkins warm-up shirt calling for justice in the Tamir Rice and John Crawford police shootings.
            Tamir Rice was the 12 year-old-boy with the toy gun who was shot instantly once police drove up on him in November. Crawford was fatally shot in a Wal-mart store when police saw him with a pellet gun he had picked up to purchase.
            Apparently Cleveland Police Benevolent Association President Jeff Follmer feels that both of these cases display his fellow officers in defensible actions, because after seeing Hawkins warm-up shirt on television, Officer Follmer fired off a nasty statement bashing Hawkins for being a know-nothing athlete, and demanding that the Cleveland Browns issue an apology.
            “It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” said an irate Ofc. Follmer. “They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”
You see stuff like this just doesn’t get under my skin, it boils there.
I get that the Cleveland cops, especially in the aftermath of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner shocking grand jury decisions, are not pleased with having their own dirty laundry being brought out into open, and certainly don’t like two recent police shootings involving their own thrown back in their faces.
Do they have the right to complain? Yes. As much as I’d like to tell them to shut up and just do their jobs…without shooting any unarmed people…it would be hard to deny them that freedom.
But what they don’t have the right to do is denigrate citizens who have a legitimate care and concern about the state of policing in their community. What Andrew Hawkins called for was done in a meaningful and thoughtful way, with a level of dignity that can only be admired.
To demean him as just a dumb jock that doesn’t know the law, and then demand an apology from Hawkins owners to show him and the world that is really boss around here, is pretty pathetic in and of itself.
The Cleveland Browns, in their response, took the high road.
"We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city. We also respect our players' rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner," the Browns said in a worthy retort to the brass and senseless police statement.
Please note that there is no apology included.
And then there’s Hawkins himself, who responded to the Cleveland demand by eloquently saying that, “A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.” Hawkins added that he felt for the families of police victims, and he had concerns about the safety of his own two-year-old son when he grows up.
"I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty and integrity. (It) wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department. It was a stance against wrong individuals doing wrong thing,” Hawkins said.
What this, and the senseless reaction to LeBron James and other NBA players wearing their “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts in honor of the last words of NYC police chokehold victim Eric Garner, reveals is a blatant hostility towards black people period. To tell professional athletes that their only mission in life is to perform when they’re told to, collect their checks, but otherwise shutup and don’t worry about the world around them unless given permission to do so, is just flat out condescending as all getout.
And to tell the organizations who hire professional athletes that they need to apologize for them, or even punish them for exercising their freedom of speech AT ALL, is diabolical at the least.
“If you won’t apologize when demanded, we get your massas to make you do it!”
Kind of makes you wonder just how these cops see the average black citizen in the street, you know, the ones without the multi-million dollar contracts.
But the police aren’t alone in the damn foolishness file.
Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera tore it with me two years ago when he openly blamed 15 year-old Trayvon Martin with his own death in wearing a hoodie the night he was fatally shot by George Zimmermann.
Rivera was forced to apologize for that by his own outraged son. But now Geraldo has done it again, getting on Fox News, saying that LeBron James should not have worn a T-shirt saying “I Can’t Breathe,” but rather, “Be a Better Father.” Rivera said that “I Can’t Breathe” spoke to victimhood, whereas “Be a Better Father” spoke to encouraging the black community to overcome fatherless families which lead to crime and despair.
Rivera’s point to similar to former NYC Mayor Rudolph Guliani’s – if blacks didn’t commit so much crime, we wouldn’t need so many white police officers in black communities.
First of all, police officers killing unarmed black men repeatedly has nothing to do with black fatherhood, or the lack of it. No one in the conservative Tea Party has any darn sense. Does that give the police the right to start killing them needlessly?
But the power of the anti-police brutality movement has forced the powers that be to come back with the only weapon they feel they have, namely smearing an entire community. Never mind that the policies of these people relating to no jobs, illegal drugs and guns and poor education have plenty to do with the black crime rate.
The long and short of all of this is that the respect that we are due is respect we are going to have to fight for. We have no choice.
I hope we’re ready going into a new year.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.waug-network.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html).
           Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

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