Songs about Victims of Police Shootings
Today is the funeral of Michael Brown – another family will come together around a grave instead of a dining table. As tragic as it is, his death is not an isolated case of police shooting an innocent person: Amadou Diallo, Kathryn Johnston, Stephen Lawrence, Jean-Charles de Menezes, Sean Bell and Trayvon Martin (whose killer wasn’t even a cop)…
Many of these cases involve plain clothes police officers – without seeing a police uniform, the victims don’t know they’re dealing with police and try to run away or fight back before being killed. This is then interpreted as “resisting the police” and used to legally justify their deaths (along with sprinkles of cocaine, of course).
In some cases, such as the murder of Stephen Lawrence, official investigations have proven that institutional racism in the police force and racial profiling were a part of the tragedy. In other cases, it’s just an open secret.
Since Creartivism is about political art, here are some of the best songs about specific victims of police shootings (along with info to learn more, of course):
A Tree Never Grown – Various Artists
We proceeded on a country road
His mother’s eyes withered swoll
Her child was never comin’ home
Said a prayer for his soul
As the coffin had closed, committed to the earth below
First seed she would sew, would be a tree never grown
Shade that was never known
After the police shooting of Amadou Diallo, Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli started a music project called Hip Hop for Respect to raise awareness about police brutality and Amadou’s murder. 41 musicians contributed, just like the number of shots fired at the unarmed 23-year-old as he was running away from the four plain clothes police officers, not recognising them as cops and thinking they are trying to rob him.
My Street Blues – Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Kathryn Johnston, an elderly lady, was sitting at home when three men with guns stormed in. Frightened, the 92-year old grandmother took her own gun to protect herself, but was shot several times. As she was dying, the men put handcuffs on her – as it turned out, they were plain clothes police officers. Then they just put some marijuana next to her corpse and showed the judge some cocaine to “justify” the murder.
NEXT PAGE: Sean Bell, Jean-Charles de Menezes, Amadou Diallo and Trayon Martin