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On Police Brutality
Leboriae P Smoore
I want to thank everybody for coming out tonight. I'm so glad to be here myself and I'm just deeply sorrowful that it's on this kind of occasion to be here concerning brutality. I've been raised as a Christian all of my life. Since a 10 year old child teaching Sunday school. And here I get to San Francisco. I've seen some of the obnoxious things I've ever dreamed of seein' people doin' to people. And it bothers me. I live in Double Rock Projects, Alice Griffith Projects. Well, that's a place where people live. Wherever people live, people supposed to treat people like people are people. And when people don't treat people like people are people, somethin' wrong there. And this is what is happening in my community where I'm stayin' at.
Police have no respect for the people that are in the projects These are poor people, they don't have respect for people outside of the Project let alone inside. But what I'm saying is that these people are people who are at a low ebb, at a hopeless state. As if to say, "Well, I'm in a project and that's all I'm gonna have in life." And this place here, I gotta do what they say do or else I'm gonna be on the street. And they can do anything they want to me because I don't have no money.
So what Lord, I don't have no money either. But I don't want them to do anything they want to do to me. Because I have a constitutional right. And because I'm poor, that don't mean that my constitutional rights are taken away from me. So what has happened, what drove me to do this painting, I saw, I saw with my own eyes, policemen shootin' a young man called Jason. They shot Jason in the neck. Jason was runnin' from the police. I didn't know what he was runnin' from. A young man. He could have been my son. He looked something like my son. First I thought it was my son. I said., "Oh Lord, don't let that be my son. Oh Lord, don't let nobody hurt him, I don't care if he's not my son. He belong to me. He's mine because he's a human being." And any time a human being get hurt, I feel like I'm hurt too, because I'm a human being. I feel the pain because they're human, I'm human and all humans supposed to feel like that. Because we are all in this together.
But Jason got shot in the neck. They shot him in the neck. And then the bullet came out through his eye and he was bleeding, unbearably bleeding. And I ran down there, lookin'. I supposed to have chronic nerve disorder. What am I doin' that for. But I went down there and I looked at Jason on the ground and then the police took his foot and stomped him in the mouth. Just like this. I said, "Oh Lord, God, what am I gonna do. Oh Jesus." I said, "Don't you do that, policeman; you stop that policeman." And he looked at me like I was a retarded person. So but I kept on hollering and the people in the community, in the projects, who saw it too, they said, "Please don't do that. Stop it. Don't do that to him!" And they handcuffed Jason. And then, not only they handcuffed him, but they were doin' terrible things to him. And just, just acting as if he wasn't even human. And I said, "Oh, we got to do something. What we gonna do?" We just kept on talking, all the people in the community just kept on saying, "Stop it! Just stop it! Don't hurt him!" And they handcuffed him. The man bleedin' to death. What is he gonna do bleedin' to death, what is he gonna do?! How is he gonna run bleedin' to death, layin' on the ground! And they got their foot, stomped him in the face, in the mouth and broke out his teeth. Broke out his teeth in the front. And now Jason, right now, Jason have to eat food. When he swallows, he's in jail now, when he swallows, his food comes through his nose. Now how would you like someone to do you like that? Human treating human like this! And this is supposed to be somebody I admire, a policeman, supposed to be people we admire, look up to! I cannot look up to nobody treating people that way! And I walked away, being a chronic nerve person like I am, I started shaking, having nervous muscle spasm, coming up all in my neck and I can't hardly move! And like I got to do something! I got to do something! I don't know what I'm gonna do! I got to do something God. I don't know what am I gonna do.
Leboriae P Smoore with her artwork, Civic Center, San Francisco
Then I start, I said, "I can paint, I can draw. I'm gonna do something God. I'm gonna get the biggest painting I can make. I'm gonna paint this man and I'm gonna tell him what I think. I know who they are! Mark Fuhrman, that's who they are. They are Mark Fuhrmans, I said to myself. And what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna put every one of them with a Mark Fuhrman head. And as you look at that painting, as you look at that painting, every one of those policemen have Mark Fuhrman heads. And I thank God for that idea. Because that's an idea that is real. They want to get all the Black people like you do a cat, you don't want the cat, so you collect them all in a bag and you put them in a bag and go dump them in the river. Or in the ocean and get rid of them. Because you don't want no more cats. So -- they just collect all the Black people and put them in a bag and get rid of them! Throw 'em in the ocean, they don't want no more Black people no mo'. Get rid of them, all Mark Fuhrman heads. So that's the idea there. And when you see those stars on 'em, look at the stars on those policeman. They're supposed to have seven, seven notches on the badges. They don't have seven notches on the badge. They have eight notches on the badges. They have eight because eight means money.
I studied numerology. And when you want money, if your name equal to an eight, that means you crazy about money. You'd probably do anything for money. But I'm saying they wanted money. Money, Money, Money, Money! Now, many people say, "You got to pay the police to get out of this." Well, a lot of rich people pay the police and they get out of the crimes. Poor people don't have the money. We don't have the money. What does it mean. You gonna kill us. Because we don't have the money. Mark Fuhrman heads up there. Mark Fuhrman want to kill us because we don't have no money. Mark Fuhrman want to kill us because we are not the nationality he want us to be. Or people who are prejudiced don't want you to be, they want you to be what they want you to be. And you can't be what you wanna be 'cause they want you to be what they want you to be. And that's not right.
I want to be me. I don't want nobody else taking me and making me what they want me to be. Let me make myself what I wanna be. So when you look at this painting here, you are looking at all characters who's destroyed the Black race. Who not only destroying the Black race, who's destroying the Poor race of people. So this is what the Whites are doing, this is what some Blacks are doing to each other too. Because I have a step-daughter who has joined the police force. She has a brother right now. And her brother is constantly being harassed by the police.
Right now, I don't know what they're throwing him in jail right now. I'm just constantly writing affidavits and affidavits. I say anytime you do it, I'm gonna put an affidavit on you. And one of these days, you gonna be in these projects. And I'm gonna be in your house, because I know how to fight law, just like the lawyer do. And a lawyer in the project, a lawyer-minded person is in the project. I don't want to be a lawyer but I have to go that way sometimes in order to stand up for my constitutional rights. And everybody in here should stand up for your constitutional rights. Nobody should be made to be done like Aaron Williams and killed like Aaron Williams, William Hankston Brian Sullivan, all these men who have been killed here. And Edwin Sheehan. All of 'em been killed by the police through brutality.
So what I'm saying to you, this painting is a message to you. It's to stand up for your rights. Stand up. As long as you sit complacent, they're gonna keep on doing what they're doing. Let 'em know that you're not satisfied with what's goin' on. If you have to make a picket sign, whatever you have to do to let them know that justice is not being served right.
And let 'em know that you are a human being. And human beings come before property. But this country says, "Property comes before human beings." We, the people of the United States got to let them know that that's wrong.
LeBoriae P Smoore is a community activist and artist and lives in the Alice Griffith Projects of San Francisco.
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