Another week, another suspicious death of a Black or Brown person at the hands of the police. This time in Durham, North Carolina, where the police department would like us to believe that 17-year-old Jesus Huerta was searched, handcuffed, and placed in the back seat of a police car, and sometime during that ride, while still handcuffed, he pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. This same week we found out that Tyrone West, who died in police custody five months ago, died of “positional asphyxiation,” according to a source familiar with the case.
“Witnesses to the incident and West family members alleged that officers from the Baltimore City Police Department and Morgan State University beat West to death after a traffic stop in Northeast Baltimore last July. However, the autopsy found he suffocated while being held in a position in which he couldn’t breathe.”
Not only are the deaths of Black and Brown people routinely ignored, like the approximately 42 people, including at least 13 Americans, who have been killed by on-duty Customs and Border Patrol officers since 2005. Far too often the perpetrators are cleared by the court of law, like Officer David Warren who shot and killed a unarmed Henry Glover, before his fellow officers burned the body to cover up the crime. Some are put right back on the job like Deputy Erick Gelhaus, who shot and killed 13 year old Andy Lopez, who was playing with a toy gun.
A few weeks ago I did a song and video titled, “Strange Fruit, (Class of 2013). The video’s director, Haute Muslim, decided to go a little further and do a making of.
“In creating the piece entitled Behind the Making of Strange Fruit (Class of 2013), my intention was twofold. One reason was to draw attention to the social justice issues that continue to plague society even in the year 2013. There is a clear connection between the racially motivated crimes Billie Holiday sang of and the cases Jasiri extracted from today’s news media. I wanted to visually make the connection for the viewer. Secondly, I wanted to showcase an artist and his motivation behind bringing these issues to the forefront musically. Seeing Jasiri’s motivation bring this piece to fruition inspired me to do more and to use my own God given talents to do so. My hope is that his work and the motivation behind it will challenge us all to do more or at the very least support and artist who does.” – HauteMuslim