Enlightened Legislation: Laying the Groundwork for Today’s Social Injustice Issues

  • Post category:Rando Bin
This isn’t the sort of song I’d normally choose to write. So you’ll understand when I say it wasn’t my choice. The song chose me.
I was working on something else entirely. An unrelated song. I had an idea for a voice sample I felt would tie the song together. A quick little message to wrap things up. I perused the internet and found a potential candidate. I listened to the first 30 seconds and decided the tone would indeed fit. The whole clip was 7 minutes long. So I hit record and went for a snack.
Upon returning, I cut out a few phrases from the first 90 seconds or so. It felt like plenty, so I didn’t even need the rest of the 7 minutes. As I was about to trash the rest of the recording, I realized it had recorded not 7 minutes, but about 15. Another clip must have auto played after the one I chose.
Of course, I was curious. I began clicking through the second recording, just to see what it contained. I’m glad a did. These messages were provocative. Even more so than the ones I had chosen. Provocative and painfully relevant. I could hardly believe the serendipity.
In fact, take a listen for yourself.

It felt like this material was delivered to me. It was impossible to ignore. I had already been working for hours. And I thought I was wrapping up. But now I had to sample this message and bring it to life through music. I had to dig in while the inspiration was so fresh.

The next hour was a sprint. I placed the voice in a new project. I programmed a beat around it. Added percussive layers. A bass line. And finally some sparse, sampled instrumentation. I worked as fast as possible. I wanted the entire creation to be born within the context of the original feeling. The feeling I got when this mystery broadcast first played back through my headphones.
The entire process took at most, 80 minutes. Now, the feeling is captured in music where it will live on indefinitely. For whatever that’s worth.

But what was the message exactly? You are no doubt wondering this. And with a hint of frustration, if you skipped the demo and haven’t yet heard it for yourself.
It is a New York Public Radio broadcast. The host announces the passing of new legislation that allows policemen more leeway in their firearm use. Before, she says, an officer was only permitted to fire his weapon in self-defense, or on behalf of the safety of a third party. She mocked the old rule for its obvious lack of sense.
Now, the officer may discharge his weapon at his own discretion.
A welcome change, according to the host. She mentions a situation “last September” in which a perpetrator escaped due to the overly restrictive old law. She begins as if she’s referencing a specific event that actually occurred. But by the end, it’s clear that she’s invented the story of the “rapist, or strangler, or what have you” to make her point. And what is her point? She believes that restricting a police officer’s firearm use is active encouragement to rapists and murderers, or anyone else that may be considered a threat.

Our collective safety depends on an officers ability to fire his gun at anyone he “knows or believes has committed a felony, or has a gun, or any other kind of deadly weapon.” 

The officer does not have to wait until he is in danger to use his weapon. He only has to *think* he is in danger. Combine that leeway with the systematic racism that has been programmed into white America to see people of color as dangerous criminals, and you begin to see the problem.
The broadcast went on to talk about the new “no sock” law “which enables an arresting officer to make it a felony if a person physically assaults the policeman in an attempt to resist arrest.” Even in the case of an illegal false arrest.
Again, the host is relieved. “It is heartening to note that the legislature has responded to the public’s wish for more police power and protection at a time when, according to the latest FBI reports, the incidence of crime and violence continue to rise at a rapid pace.”
By citing the FBI, she meant to add credibility to her otherwise unsupported claim that violent crime was on the rise. But the FBI’s motives were notoriously dubious during the late 1960s. For example, recovered Bureau documents “revealed directives that required FBI field offices to watch African-Americans wherever they went.”
“These people were enemies of the state, and in particular Martin Luther King [Jr.] was an enemy of the state. And Hoover aimed to watch over them. If they twitched in the wrong direction, the hammer would come down.” Hoover, for those unaware, refers to J. Edgar Hoover. The director of the FBI from 1935 to 1972.
And the hammer did come down on King. Hoover’s spying escalated. He “had his intelligence chief bug King’s bedroom, and then sent the civil rights leader a copy of the sex recordings.” The blackmail package included a letter in addition to the sex tapes. It’s anonymous author described King as “evil,” a “fraud,” and a “dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile.” It concluded by telling King he was finished and “flat-out suggests that the leader commit suicide.”
King ignored the threat. 
When he was later assassinated, the FBI understandably fell under suspicion. To this day though, no proof exists in their involvement in King’s murder. 
That’s not to say the FBI never murdered any Civil Rights leaders in their attempts to disrupt the movement. Internal documents show the FBI proudly took credit for killing Black Panthers member, Fred Hampton. A heavily armed team of police raided his residence in the middle of the night. Mark Clark, also a Black Panther, was on security duty at the time. The police shot him in the chest upon entry and he died immediately. When they found Hampton, he was asleep in his bed. They shot him twice in the head from point blank range. Chicago police were found to a have fired over 90 shots inside the apartment. One shot was fired by the Black Panthers. When Mark Clark died, his gun felt to the floor and discharged once into the ceiling. 
“At a press conference the next day, the police announced the arrest team had been attacked by the “violent” and “extremely vicious” Panthers and had defended themselves accordingly. In a second press conference on December 8, the police leadership praised the assault team for their “remarkable restraint”, “bravery”, and “professional discipline” in not killing all the Panthers present. Photographic evidence was presented of “bullet holes” allegedly made by shots fired by the Panthers, but this was soon challenged by reporters. An internal investigation was undertaken, and the police claimed that their colleagues and friends on the assault team were exonerated of any wrongdoing.” source
The raid would not have been possible without the FBI. One of their informants, William O’Neal, provided the floor plan of the apartment. He organized the raid. He drugged Hampton so he’d be incapacitated at the time of the murder. The FBI rewarded his successful mission with a bonus. He later admitted his involvement and committed suicide. 
Right now you’re thinking, how did we even get here? You’re right. That was quite the tangent. So let’s recap. 
Once, the law stated that a police officer may fire his gun only as self defense, or to save a third party. 

In 1968, new legislature permitted an officer to fire at anyone he thought was a felon or armed. 
New York Public Radio invited their listeners to celebrate the change. Because according to the FBI, violent crime was on the rise and these laws would help keep everyone safe. The host aligns this point of view with her identity as a proud Republican. If you disagree, you’re encouraging rapists and strangers to run rampant in your community.
But the FBI’s real objective was, in part, to disrupt the Civil Rights Movement. And new legislation gave room for law enforcement to pursue anyone they wanted, as long as they could provide an explanation for it later (and they would be investigating themselves). The story on the radio just secured public acceptance for a more draconian police force. These measures inflicted disproportionate damage on communities of color.

And they still do today.