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Too many funerals

Funeral procession for Michael Brown

Funeral procession for Michael Brown LAWRENCE BRYANT/ST. LOUIS AMERICAN PHOTO

As I watched the moment shape the justly redeemed Sharpton, my heart was heavy. How many more funerals before things really change? There are just too many funerals, too soon for our children who have not blossomed before they are gunned down by hate filled law ‘n’ order cops. 

There is no funeral like a Black funeral with a full array of celebrity-funeralizing as gospel music heightens emotions that are already boiling over. Rock it with over-the-casket shout-outs to “Spike,” Congresswomen Maxine Waters and (Benjamin) Crump, the newly anointed heir lawyer of the executed.

A bit over 15 years ago in 1999, I was literally the sole decision-maker with the family of Isaiah Shoels for the largest of the Columbine Massacre funerals with over 7,500 in attendance and a worldwide satellite feed from every major network. Isaiah Shoels was the lone Black student murdered after his killers demanded to know,“where is that little nigger?,” then they blew Isaiah’s heart out. 

It takes a certain attitude to deal with the egos and jockeying that goes on to determine who will speak and for how long during a major media funeral including who sits where and every other detail including press movement and security removal for professional funeral-goers who get out of hand.

It is all as if the body stretched out in the box is just an accessory for decorating purposes that justifies the media event another funeral.

As Sharpton exposed the attention-garnering tactics of funeral opportunists, I recall the Colorado preacher who I had to confront during Isaiah’s funeral as the preacher kept adding preachers to speak who were not on the program. That preacher told me he was just doing what the Lord told him to do. 

I told the preacher before a shocked Governor of Colorado, “Well the Lord is telling you to wrap this MF up or I will take the microphone and have you removed.” A Flint/Detroit No Bluff Zone attitude worked in the Rocky Mountains.

Neither Sharpton nor Reverend Jackson made the funeral cut in 1999. We selected Martin Luther King III to deliver words borne of family pain over the casket of Isaiah Shoels. Things change but King did sit in the front row during the Michael Brown event. Dr. Julianne Malveaux was also not in the Brown funeral line-up and for good reason.

As folk were being admonished for acting up, creating a “disturbance/riot,” Dr. Malveaux’s words echoed in my mindset: “The outpouring of rage in Ferguson streets is not a riot, but an uprising. People are rising up against police brutality, rising up against the massacre of another young man. Rising up, so hopefully another mother will not have to suffer again.” 

What is wrong with being the spark that may ignite uprisings across the land, so the firemen of the status quo can’t show up fast enough to extinguish the flames fueled by racist injustice?

Issue ownership does not belong to the family of the executed but to those who stand to lose their lives in future executions by terrorists that wear badges carrying guns.

Contrary to what Jesse Jackson says, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is available to you whether you vote or not. Voting will not stop the killing. Jail the killers. Hell, you really might have such piss poor choices that you choose to exercise a right not to vote — such is a real democracy.

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle, J.D., is political director of the Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sam.riddle or Twitter at https://twitter.com/samriddle .

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