Read My Script Goddamit

by Cinque Brown

I am steaming mad right now. I just spent the last two years of my existence writing a movie script. It's called "Black Skin Culprits". My Hollywood connection got it to some big wigs, who he knows in the movie industry. All of them turned down my script. Why???....because they all said it was TOO OFF BASE!!!

In 8 months, 22 directors and producers who specialize in" racially charged scripts", (four African American) read my script but there was a unanimous "belief" that the script was too unbelievable. What the hell do they know about real life, especially the trials and tribulations of an African-American male. I want you to read it and tell me what you think. Did I spend the last two years of my life holed up in a studio apt writing a script that some say was a18th century scenario created for a 1992 setting? It's not long, so bear with me PLEASE.

Okay this is what the story is about ...and I even tried to make it have a happy ending -here goes the story.

"A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that police officers in Amitaf, N.Y., did not violate the Constitution when they tried to stop every Black man in town in 1992 after a woman said she had been robbed in her home by a young black man."

Got that? Every black man in town. This is New York, mind you, not Mississippi. After hearing that a black man had committed a crime, the cops went after every black man they saw walking the streets. They dragooned black men and boys (and at least one black woman!) who were trying to use public transportation. They pulled over black guys riding in cars. They went to the State University of New York at Amitaf and got a list of all the Black students in the school, and they went after them.

These were all innocent people. The cops never did find the alleged assailant. But that didn't matter. Neither their rights as citizens nor their humanity mattered.

These were black people, and whatever you do to them is all right. They may have been masquerading as human beings, but Amitaf's men in blue (assisted by the state police) could see right through that disguise.

The manhunt began early on the morning of Sept. 4, 1992, when a 77-year-old woman told police she had been attacked by a burglar. The woman, who was white, said she never saw the man's face but could tell from his arm and hand that he was black. She said she thought he was young because he moved quickly. She said the man had a knife and had cut himself on the hand while struggling with her. He then fled.

A canine unit tracked the scent of the alleged assailant for several hundred yards before losing it. Investigators said the path of the scent pointed toward the university campus. That's all the cops had to go on.

No problem. There weren't all that many black people in Amitaf. Of the 14,000 full-time residents fewer than 500 are black. And only about 2 percent of the 7,500 students at the university are black. So the cops, smart enough to know a black person when they see one, decided to stop every black guy in the town to see if one of them had a cut on his hand.

This went far beyond the problem of driving while black. People were being stopped in Amitaf for breathing while black. Trust me, if some poor guy had innocently cut his finger while slicing a tomato for dinner he would have landed in jail.

The cops never did find their man, but they humiliated a lot of people in the process. In last week's opinion, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit said: "We are not blind to the sense of frustration that was doubtlessly felt by those questioned by the police during this investigation."

But the panel ruled that this police sweep of blacks in Amitaf was O.K., that it was constitutionally permissible, that it was not a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment or the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures. Never mind the Breathtaking totality of the sweep. Never mind that the cops were not considering any other aspect of the so-called description except race. Never mind that this would never happen to the white residents of Amitaf.

The court ruled that the stops were not racially discriminatory because, in the court's view, the cops were acting on a description that included more than just the color of the alleged assailant.

With this ruling, cops are free to harass any and all black people as long as they have in hand a complaint that a black person has committed a crime. If you are black, you are a suspect.

The ruling, which upheld a similar ruling by a lower court, grew out of a lawsuit filed against the Amitaf cops and the state police by several of the people caught up in the sweep. The case against the plaintiffs was argued by lawyers from the office of State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who had a statutory obligation to defend the state in the suit, but who made it clear that he was uncomfortable with the outcome.

"I read the circuit opinion," he said yesterday. "And I said, 'You know what? We won the case but it makes your skin crawl.' "

Okay that's it. So what do you think, BE HONEST ? Wait before you tell me let me tell you something. This isn't a script that I made up. This actually happened. This is actually a psuedo reprint of Bob Herbert's column of Novemeber 4th which ran in the New York Times. It was entitled "Breathing While Black"

Every last thing in here is true except the opening paragraph. The only thing changed from Herbert's original column is the the place. I switched the word Oneonta in every place for the word Amitaf. There is no place called Amitaf in the world. I just changed the name in case somebody who read the original article recognized the story and I wanted all, to read it again. And again and to the end, so that you can see how ridiculous these people in Black Robes and uniforms with guns are but this time when you read replace Amitaf with Oneonta or just about anywhere in America if you are Black.

Read My Script Goddamit by Cinque Brown

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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