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Notes from the occupied territories: Black America and the police
When the full story is finally told and, though not likely freely admitted by many, deep within the spiritual thinking of numerous African Americans, an emotional candle will be lit in memory of Lovelle Mixon, the man who, in a horrific shootout in which he was finally killed, shot five Oakland police officers, four of whom have died. They will then say to themselves, “But for the grace of God I could have been he.”
Mixon, whom family and friends say was not a monster - “He didn’t walk up and down the street killing people” - was by many accounts a marginally normal person in African American neighborhoods. But the truth of the matter is, Lovelle Mixon, who, police say, is suspected of an earlier killing and rape, represented the man to whom society had given almost nothing, the man of whom society expected nothing. Lovelle Mixon was America’s worst nightmare: the Black man with nothing to lose.
The line between those of us who have something to lose and those of us who don’t is tenuous at best. In many cases the line of separation is almost invisible. Virtually every African American has a family member or knows someone who has been to jail or prison, or remains there today. There are no economic boundaries to this truth. Is there one African American oriented church located in the Black communities that doesn’t have a ministry that outreaches to the incarcerated? Likely no.
The day before the East Oakland shootout, this writer was on the phone talking to a long time friend whose husband had been released last year from Angola prison after serving 25 years. Louisiana paroled him to California where he landed a job with a CalTrans program for parolees.
Too bad Mixon, who had been trying to get a job, wasn’t guided toward that program. But chances are it wouldn’t have done any good.