Matt and I are in our beloved Volvo station wagon with our two pups, on the way to Indiana to see mama Gail and enjoy the lake. When we go on road trips, we always listen to loud music, as most people do. The first album I put on when we got on our way was The Cranberries’ greatest hits album.
Zombie is the third song on the album, and although the lyrics were written about the IRA bombing in Warrington, Ireland, the lyrics hit me hard in regards to Antwon Rose.
I wasn’t expecting it, and was startled by how much the lyrics sounded like they were written about the police brutality that plagues black communities, by how much the lyrics sounded like they were written today, days after Antwon Rose was murdered by Officer Michael Rosfeld.
“Another mother’s breaking heart is taking over”
I can’t imagine how it feels to be Antwon’s mother right now. I can’t imagine what it’s like to receive a call that your baby boy was just shot in the back, MURDERED, by a police officer as he tried to run away from them in fear, unarmed.
“Another head hangs lowly, child is slowly taken... it’s the same old thing since 1916”
Antwon Rose’s life may have been taken from him permanently when those three bullets pierced his back, but the end of his life began long before that wretched day.
This brutal murder was the result of systematic oppression and police brutality that black people have been experiencing for centuries - long before Antwon was even born. This oppression takes black children, slowly. It devalues them in society’s eyes and in their own eyes, slowly. It quietly does everything it can to ensure these children will grow up to be imprisoned. To overdose. To be murdered. To be in deep poverty. It is vicious, it is calculated, it is slow, but very sure of itself.
Antwon was well on his way to escaping the worst of black oppression, with his stellar grades, charming personality, college plans, empathetic soul, incredible work ethic, and community service driven attitude.
But when you’re black, police brutality doesn’t care about any of that when they aim a gun at your back.
“But you see, it’s not me, it’s not my family”
There has been an incredible outpouring of support and the way our communities have come together in support of #justiceforantwon.
But I can’t pretend that there isn’t also an outpouring of ignorant, hateful, disrespectful, and despicable comments. Comments so destitute of empathy, they make me wonder if they were really written by human beings.
The reality is these comments ARE being written by real, breathing, flesh and blood human beings.
Human beings that say, ‘if those protesters try to block a road I’m on, I will run them over’ as if making them stop and wait in their car for fifteen minutes is a terrible injustice worthy of murder. As if they’ve never experienced real hardship and injustice in their lives.
Human beings that say ‘he’s clearly guilty if he ran’ as if they’ve never felt fear in their lives. As if none of their loved ones would ever run if they feared being hurt or killed. As if black kids that are suspected of a crime and run out of fear deserve to be immediately gunned down by police. As if they’re totally ok with cops suddenly deciding that THEY are judge, jury, and executioner.
Human beings that are LITERALLY and PUBLICLY saying “black people are so stupid” as if they don’t know why racism is wrong. As if they aren’t a part of the problem. As if black oppression is black people’s faults. As if black oppression isn’t real.
If it were their family, they wouldn’t be saying any of these things, and their hearts would be torn out of their chests and smashed into a million pieces by their own words.
Please, after reading this, listen to Zombie and think of Antwon. Pray to whatever God you pray to, and if you don’t pray to a god, send good vibes into the universe, asking not to let Antwon’s death be in vain. Empower yourself. Vote for politicians who are determined to end black oppression. VOTE, please vote. Go to any protest of this unjust murder that you can. Please. Call the Allegheny Police Department to demand that Officer Rosfeld be held accountable for murder. Please. Don’t stop talking about this after the shock wears off. Please, please, please. Don’t be the American version of the Zombies that Dolores O'Riordan wrote about in her tragic protest song. Don’t be the ones that find out that a child was gunned down in your community, sigh, and then forget about it. Do something. Please, for the love of God.
(Photo taken by myself at the June 21st protest of Antwon Rose in front of the Allegheny County Courthouse)