Bluebirds

by: Frederick Foote1

“He’s safe at home, as safe as you can be in the Land of the Free.” When the bluebirds of danger and death swoop in, mayhem ensues…

Night Train

“Good god almighty, girl, you lookin’ good as gold and ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Well, you in the right place, in the primo space, and at the appointed time, here on internet radio with For the Sake of Soul. This is the Night Train comin’ at you and I got blues for you, news for you, things for you to do too. Stick around Mr. Brown. Come on in Ms. Black. We gonna burn down this shack tonight, startin’ with beige, tan, mahogany and brown as in The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown, our conductor. You don’t need a ticket to ride the “Night Train.” Hop on board.”

“Miami Florida, ATL. Oh, yeah. Good to be black. Glad to be back. Hell yeah, what’s on your mind? It’s your show, let’s go. Line two, Monroe from South Bend. Kick it off my friend.”

Monroe

“Hey, listen. I’m driving home from work this — I’m still shaking, man — but this evening, and I’m minding my own business. I see three boys I know, Kenyon, Mitchell, and Santos, walking home from middle school. They go to school with my kids and it’s just a block from my house and, and this black and white, no lights, no siren cuts right in front of me. Runs right up in front of me. I hit the brakes hard and just missed them. Drove that squad car right up on the sidewalk in front of them boys just a foot or two away. Two cops, one black, one white, jump out with clubs in their hands and start beating on them boys. Just beating the shit out of ‘em. No warning. Just Bam! Wham! Bam! Ah, shit! Goddamn…hold on a minute. I just need a minute…”

Night Train

“Monroe, take your time man, take your time. We got your back, man. You in a lovin’ place, a soothin’ space. We with you through tears and pain. Take your time.”

Monroe

“I’m sorry, man. I’m not crying for me, man. Them boys, those poor boys. I lost it, just lost it. I wasn’t thinking and I jumped out of my car, and I went ahead and grabbed the nearest cop, grabbed his arm with the club. I broke his arm. I’m sure of it. Snap! Like that. I wasn’t thinking. I, I just, just seen too much of this shit. Oh, man. Oh, shit!”

Night Train

“Monroe, you in a safe place? Are you sure you want to keep talkin’? You know they be listenin’ in. You can call back later. We can take this off air.”

Monroe

“No! No, I’m gonna go to jail. I know that but fuck it. I can’t watch that shit no more. I can’t.

The other cop was pullin’ his gun when a brother I didn’t know stepped up with a twelve gauge, pumped a shell into the chamber. The cop dropped the gun.”

Night Train

“Okay, alright. Do you want to go on?”

Monroe

“Man, old men, young men came from everywhere — just everywhere — and they stomped ‘em and beat ‘em and kicked ‘em nearly to death. I just watched. I should have tried to stop it. I know that. I drove home. I hugged my wife and my two boys.”

Night Train

“Go be with your family, man. Thank you, brother. Thank you for what you did, and if there’s a god, she will forgive you for what you did, and then for what you didn’t do. I believe that.

Okay, alright. We all lit up in here. We takin’ down Monroe’s contact information. And ah, ah, shit got me all teared up. I’ll be a character witness for brother Monroe if he needs me. And, I’m startin’ a defense fund right here and now, I’ll put down the first five hundred. Hell, make it a grand. Now, Otis on line two. Go man.”

Otis

“Night Train, I’m a vet. U.S. Army. I did two tours in Afghanistan. I’m married twenty years to the same woman. I have two boys of my own. I’m a deacon in my church and I’m a police officer. I’ve been a police officer for ten years. What Monroe did was, was inexcusable. He attacked an officer of the law. He assaulted him and caused a riot that led to a great deal of bodily harm to both officers. Monroe and all the cowards participating in that attack need to suffer the full weight of the law. The two cops were heroes trying to do their jobs.

Night Train you owe those cops an apology and you need to collect money for them, and not this criminal. You should be ashamed of yourself for promoting violence against law enforcement.”

Night Train

“Otis, Otis…the history of law enforcement in the United States is a history of their violence against the black community. Them two blue belly cowards beatin’ on them boys is part of that history. C’mon, man. Listen, I respect you and all you have done and do for our country and the community, but on to the next. Line three Carmen from Glendale, the Glendale in the Grand Canyon state. Go on with your bad self.”

Carmen

“First, Monroe has a self-defense claim. He was protecting others.

Second, the police officers were committing felony assault and battery with the intention of causing great bodily harm. Police are legally limited to arresting and investigating. They have no legitimate or legal basis for punishing anyone.

Third, the police behavior, not Monroe’s actions, was the clear cause of the resulting public disorder.

Now, I do have to run. However, Night Train, you should know that the situation in South Bend is escalating. Check it out.”

Night Train

“Wait, wait hold on sister. Are you an attorney? Ok, looks like she’s gone. So, we are in the midst of something serious going down in South Bend. Is there anyone who can give us a shout out from South Bend? Leona on Line four. What’s up?”

Leona

“Hey Train! I was born in Indiana, in Indianapolis, and it is as racist there as anything you find in the South — I can tell you that. Cops beating the shit of you was common when I was there in the sixties. My advice. Stay the hell out of Indiana, it’s like Mississippi North. I was—”

Night Train

“Leona, sister, stop there. Stay on the line while I take this call from Brother Brown in South Bend. You are on the air Brother Brown.”

Brown

“The shit is on! I am telling you the shit is on! Man, this some wicked shit. They done drove the cops out of here. Ran ‘em out! Like every brother and his sister had hardware and everything a party now. People dancing in the streets and soon they’ll be bumpin’ between the sheets.You need to be here man! I got to get back to you. I got to stop by the liquor store for minute. They got a ‘anything you can carry out the window’ special.”

Night Train

“Hey, Brown. Hey, man you better get your shit and go home. This ain’t gonna end well. You, know that.”

“Leona done split. Marcus on line one. Hit it dude.”

Marcus

“Hey, Train, check this out. Last year I got stopped twelve times by them dogs. I even would get stopped on Sunday mornings with my wife and kids, with them in the car going to church. The motherfuckers. Twelve times!”

Night Train

“Why were they stoppin’ you? You got a twin brother on the Most Wanted list or somethin’?”

Marcus

“It’s not like that. I drive a Bentley Mulsanne. And you know their first question, “Is this your car?” What the fuck do they think I’m doing, driving Miss Daisy?”

Night Train

“So, you rollin’ in style with a three-hundred grand plus ride and they bust your pride? Where do you live, Marcus?”

Marcus

“Just outside of Trenton. But I been stopped all over Jersey and The City, upstate New York, Maryland, Philly, Rhode Island. All over. You name it.”

Night Train

“Shit, they stop me drivin’ my twelve-year-old hoopty, but not that regularly.”

Marcus

“Well, I called ‘cause I got a message for that Uncle Tom, Trump loving nigger, Otis. One of these days, and probably sooner than later, I’m going to go off on one of you motherfuckers. And brother I hope to hell it’s you.”

Night Train

“I feel you. I know Monroe feels you. This shit got to stop. I know that breakin’ point where you gotta take a stand, be a man for a minute even when you standin’ on your own dying ground. I know that feelin’.

Leona’s back on line two.”

Leona

“They stopped me and my sister in Indianapolis two blocks from our house. My sister was twelve, just twelve-years-old. I was eighteen, barely eighteen and it was nine-thirty at night. It was December, a week before Christmas. The two of them made us get out of the car , put our hands on the hood, and spread our legs.

They ran their hands under our skirts and all over our bodies. My sister, she was trying not to cry and I’m trying to hold my temper and keep us alive…”

Night Train

“Oh, Shit! See, this shit got to stop or be stopped.”

Leona

“And we couldn’t, couldn’t tell anyone. Our father or older brother. They would have killed them cops or died trying.

I got to go. Sorry. I’m sorry…”

Night Train

“Thank you, sister. Thank you so much. We got Brother Brown back in South Bend. Go Brother.”

Brown

“Hey, can you hear me?”

Night Train

“Yeah, but why you whisperin’?”

Brown

“They got what looks like a tank with wheels and machine guns. They just, just blew away a car with the tank’s big ass machine gun, four people in the car, straight up blasted it to shit. Fuck! Coming my way — I’m out.”

Night Train

“Send up a prayer for the brother. Fuck it! Pray for us all. Line one, Karla Ray. Talk to us.”

Karla Ray

“My daughter’s light-skinned, straight brown hair, looks white. Now we live in Burbank, California, and her boyfriend’s dark-skinned. They got stopped five nights in a row just driving less than three miles from their jobs at the airport to our house. Less than three miles.”

Night Train

“What reason did they give for stoppin’ them?”

Karla Ray

“Bullshit reasons: weaving, failing to use a turn signal, possible stolen car, mistaken for a bank robber — all just nonsense.

After that last stop, I took her, and an eight-by five-head shot of my baby and a picture of her and Charles, her boyfriend, down to the police station. I created a disturbance. Almost got arrested myself. I told the chief you stop my child one more time and I will turn this mother out.”

Night Train

“The white man’s the greatest rapist in the history of this nation. Our European DNA proves his randy, raping, racist history. This nation always trying to flip the script on that shit.”

Karla Ray

“Went from there to the mayor’s office. Raised hell. She ain’t been stopped since. I pledge two hundred dollars to that defense fund for whoever needs it.”

Night Train

“Wow! You are my hero. Just how old was your daughter when this shit went down?”

Karla Ray

“Eighteen, but she was my baby. Still is.”

Night Train

“Okay, yes indeed. Brother Brown if you can give us a buzz let us know you alright. We gonna take our last call. Emmett from ATL, it’s all yours.”

Emmett

“What’s happening to us is terrorism, state supported terrorism. They use our tax dollars to terrorize us. It’s their way of keeping us in our place. They got a license to intimidate, bully, assault, abuse, rape, frame, and kill us. It’s that simple.

I have a daughter who’s sixteen and a son that is fourteen and a wife who would hurt me if I told you her age. I don’t know what to tell my kids. They can do everything right and end up like Leona and her sister or worse. There are no rules that will keep them safe. I feel hopeless and helpless in protecting my family. The truth is, I can’t even protect my own black ass.

I’d like to pledge a thousand dollars to the defense fund. Hell, I might need it one day myself.

Thanks, Night Train.”

Night Train

“Thanks, Emmett. And we just heard from Brother Brown. He’s safe at home, as safe as you can be in the Land of the Free.

The Klan done put on badges, sisters and brothers. They the bluebirds of danger and death.

I’m gonna say good night. We got to treat each other right. Remember drivin’ or walkin’ or talkin’ while black can be hazardous to your health. Watch out for them bluebirds from hell. I’m gonna leave you with, “Damn Right I Got the Blues” with Buddy Guy.

Love you all.”

 

  1. Header art by Caoimhghin O Croidheain. []

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