Representative Hank Johnson’s Poem: “I Can’t Breathe”

Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) recited a one-minute poem on the House Floor a few days ago:

Black men and boys killed by police.

I can’t breathe.

Impunity for the killers – no justice, no peace.

I can’t breathe.

Militarized police met peaceful protesters on their knees.

I can’t breathe.

Weapons of war – a show of force on our streets.

I can’t breathe.

Disenfranchised youth driven to violence as speech.

I can’t breathe.

Cynical media think this makes great TV.

I can’t breathe.

This cowardly Congress afraid of losing our seats.

I can’t breathe.

Half-hearted reform when there’s more that we need.

I can’t breathe.

Just thinking about the despair that this breeds.

I can’t breathe.

Black lives matter. Hear my pleas.

I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

15 Responses to Representative Hank Johnson’s Poem: “I Can’t Breathe”

  1. mgs710 says:

    Thought this was funny.

  2. Nef05 says:

    A second grand jury witness in the Michael Brown shooting has been murdered.

    Second grand jury witness in Michael Brown shooting found murdered.
    From the article: “Gray’s family believes that he may have been found alive if police had responded faster. His body was found less than a half mile from where he lived. Gray’s family had tracked his cell phone to a location near Oak Hill Cemetery in Kirkwood, but officers did not act on the information. ”

    http://www.yourblackworld.net/witnesses-of-michael-brown-shooting-turning-up-dead/#

    • Nef05 says:

      Apparently the above article is in error. While the two gentlemen have definitely been murdered, their families have come forth and indicated that neither of them testified before the grand jury.

  3. Malisha says:

    The police blaming Garner’s obesity, physical condition, behavior, speech or lack thereof, or anything else for their cowardly (four on one!!) act of murder is abominable and should be punished. It is like the police are saying Black men should be strong and fit enough to withstand any kind of punishment their lords and rulers wish to inflict upon them. The very act of saying this stuff is itself murder. Pre-paid advance-planning MURDER. If you cannot withstand whatever we choose to do, your death at our hands is your fault.

  4. ay2z says:

    And yet another article, a must read from Senior CBC Washington Correspondent.

    Title:
    “It won’t be easy reining in America’s ‘chokehold police’ In N.Y’s ‘I can’t breathe’ case: police union logic sees chokehold victim complicit in his own death”

    By Neil Macdonald, CBC News Posted: Dec 08, 2014 5:00 AM ET

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/it-won-t-be-easy-reining-in-america-s-chokehold-police-1.2862617

    Selected quotes:

    “… As President Barack Obama and other voices of authority try to reassure the nation that they can bring police abuse under control, a voice of true street-level power is speaking, too.

    That voice belongs to Patrick Lynch, and it is frightening. Americans would do well to listen.

    Lynch is the president of New York’s police union, a man described by his own organization as the most powerful police union chief in the world….

    …”If you’re speaking, you can breathe,” he told a press conference, praising the grand jury that last week refused to indict one of his members in Garner’s death. (A coroner had ruled the death a homicide.)

    Parse that statement, and the menace reveals itself.

    In the view of New York’s police union — and, no doubt, a significant percentage of street-level police officers in this country — if you can suck enough air into your lungs to gasp out that you cannot breathe, then you must be able to breathe, and therefore you’re lying, and therefore there is no reason to release the chokehold.

    Conversely, of course, if you actually cannot breathe, you wouldn’t be able to speak at all, and therefore you’d be unable to communicate that to the policeman choking you, so how is that policeman supposed to realize he should stop?

    Either way, by this piece of street-cop logic, it’s not the policeman’s fault. It’s yours. And either way, you may very well wind up dead, which is also your fault.

    NYPD union president Patrick J. Lynch, shown here in an earlier photo, last week defended the grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man being arrested for selling loose cigarettes. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

    Lynch made that clear, too….”

    (children learn this ‘logic’ early, a bigger child has learned that a game to take hold on a smaller child’s arm and uses the child’s own fist to punch the child, all while asking, “why are you punching yourself?”

    That child, and anyone else, would know the child is the game’s victim of (play)abuse and accuse, the child helpless to stop the taunting, especially if they cry out for someone to stop when it’s no longer tolerable.).

  5. Two sides to a story says:

    Awesome poem. All these protestors are my heroes. Things are awful, but a majority (perhaps a narrow one) of people are decent and kind. We can force change.

  6. JJ says:

    Great Opinion today by Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post.
    Challenging the Justice System
    The decisions by two grand juries not to indict police officers in the deaths of black men mark an opportune moment — both depressing and uplifting — to write about civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.

    http://wapo.st/12SVedJ

    • Bryan Stevenson is one of my heroes. I think he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

      I met him once and was blown away by his intelligence, humility, kindness and commitment to defending the poor and the marginalized.

      He is truly doing God’s work.

      I think of him as an angel in human form.

    • Thank you, I have the link up now. Here is another article about the system (police, grand juries and judges), worth the read:

      http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/the-american-justice-system-is-not-broken-1666445407

      • Malisha says:

        This is what I have always said about the court system, because for years I worked with activists who kept talking about how we had to fix the system. FIX it? “These judges do not need trainings,” I would say. “They need to NOT have the power to destroy people’s lives. There is NOTHING a training can do to change the mind of a judge who WANTS to do the wrong thing.”

        Napolitano, now a commentator for Fox News. Judge in NJ. Comes before him a mother of a child, father never married her, she never got $1 in support, but she wanted the father to visit and stay in touch with his child. Turns out the guy ALLEGEDLY molested the child so she tried to get his contact supervised and make him take “parenting classes.” The corrupt DYFS system in NJ decided SHE was the problem so they took her kid away, handed him over to the guy he had JUST accused of molesting him, and supervised MOM’s visits. Mom got depressed so the judge cut off all her visitation because he called her “mentally ill” by reason of her depression. THEN she won an appeal showing that there had been NOTHING proved against her to limit or deny her contact with her child. HE refused to grant her a single visit after that even though his decision was overturned. The appeals court would not step in because he had “discretion.” You know why he wouldn’t allow any more visits?

        The child had acquired a sexually transmitted disease (age 7). If Mom had access she would have found out about that.

        Kid never had another visit with Mom. You don’t think Napolitano KNEW what he was doing? He DID know. His court did not need to be fixed. He needed to be convicted of public corruption and incarcerated for 25 to life.

        Nothing is broken. We live in a police state. Laws will not change that for the average victim.

        • I believe every word. Every awful word. We do live in a police state that functions just beautifully for some of the people. And as that author points out: Nothing is broken, and that is exactly what’s the matter with it.

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